I got a bright green coat for Christmas. That whole gray color scheme was so last year. Green is such a great color - friendly and warm, with a touch of sass. Good thing my coat is warm - literally - because last month, I wore my brand new coat to the March for Life.
On January 22nd, 1973, a poorly written piece of law passed our Supreme Court, legalizing a procedure that would apparently make life easier for mothers and fathers who just needed more privacy in their personal lives. This bill outlawed "State criminal abortion laws ... that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved." (1)
I'm not going to take this space to present what I think is the very compelling argument for the humanity of the unborn child and the reasons why the unborn must be protected by law. The case for life has been argued many times by authors much more eloquent and articulate than I. (2)
Instead, I want to take this space to examine a controversial cultural phenomenon. I think that everyone can agree that abortion is a sad reality in our country. I use "sad" very intentionally. Here comes the controversial part:
No one is pro-abortion.
While that is probably a pretty controversial statement, I would absolutely stake my money on it. No one thinks that choosing abortion will make a woman really deeply happy, right down to her core, with the kind of happiness that every woman deserves. Lots of people think that abortion is a necessary evil, an option that women have to chose. No woman really thinks that abortion is a good, healthy, wholesome or holistic option, a choice that will make her feel more loved, more integrated, more herself.
That's why I say that no one is really pro-abortion. That's why the pro-abortion movement is called pro-choice. And now here's the cultural phenomenon.
People still choose abortion.
Why? Because they feel alone, neglected, scared, abused, worried, anxious, desperate, dead inside. Women feel helpless miserable, lost and victimized. Men feel powerless, confused and terrified. Unexpected pregnancy, adverse prenatal diagnosis, health issues, rape - the pain and the emotional toll that these challenges take is unbelievable. Abortion hits people at their most vulnerable: always afraid and often alone.
I think some say that especially in light of all of this suffering the March for Life is unfeeling and callous because it draws so much attention to such a sad reality.
So why does the March for Life exist? If the yearly March really only existed to point pious fingers at people who feel desperate, I certainly wouldn't go. That kind of March would be unfeeling and callous. On the other hand, if the March is just a chance to tell those distracted law makers in Washington that ending abortion is a priority for American voters, then forty two years later, the March would be a failure because abortion is still legal.
But the March still exists and men and women are still choosing abortion? Why bother marching then?
The March for Life is a chance for solidarity.
According to Dietrich von Hildebrand, solidarity is "the capacity to transcend oneself in order to suffer and rejoice with others." (3) Standing outside in freezing weather with hundreds of thousands of strangers really does bring people together. Shared suffering, shared vision, shared passion - this is solidarity.
Life is not easy.
A couple months ago, I wrote a blog post about Courtney Lenaburg, a young woman with special needs who was making her difficult final journey accompanied by the love of her family. Courtney passed away on December 27, 2014. Her family was at the March: mother, father and older brother. (4)
Kristan Hawkins, a well-known pro-life activist and mother of three, has a son with cystic fibrosis. This past year, the Hawkins family moved from Norther Virginia to Minnesota, leaving jobs, home, family and friends in order to be close to their son's medical specialists. Kristan Hawkins was at the March. (5)
Two years ago, 13-year-old Ashley chose to keep the child she conceived after being raped by her older brother's friend. Ashley gave birth to Aiden and continued her studies. Not only did the 15-year-old Ashley have to face her rapist, but she also suffered the loss of her brother who was killed in a tragic hit-and-run this past year. Ashley and Aiden were at the March.
Pro-lifers are often labeled as unfeeling, hard-hearted and naive. They just don't know what real problems people are facing. And that's just not true. Life is hard and pro-lifers understand that - deeply. Choosing to give life, affirm life, and carry other people's lives in our hands, hearts and bodies can be as frightening as it is beautiful. Solidarity challenges us to help one another, to share one another's burdens, to acknowledge how frightfully hard life is, but how good it is that we exist.
We are not alone in pain and hardship. We don't live our lives alone.
Life is good. All life is good. Every life is good. All. The. Time. And I think that's a fact that we can all agree on.
1. Roe v. Wade
3. Dietrich von Hildebrand, Fundamentals of Morality, text.