2015 March for Life in Washington D.C.
Source – Franciscans of the Immaculate, CC SA 2.0.
The March for Life, held each year for a half-century, should be a celebration now that Roe v. Wade has fallen, but those who oppose abortion still plan to march.
The usual route of the March for Life goes down Constitution Avenue, ending at the U.S. Supreme Court, however, this year there’s a detour, reports the Washington Post.
This year’s march won’t go to the Supreme Court like previous years. Instead, it will head to the Capitol, a route modification acknowledging that Congress is a new focus in the abortion wars.
“That is sending a very clear message to members of Congress that there’s still a need for a federal role to protect unborn children and their mothers from abortion,” said Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of government affairs at the prominent antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and a former member of Congress.
As for the anti-abortionist crowd, while declaring the Supreme Court’s decision in overturning Roe v. Wade a victory, many now want to focus on pushing more stringent restrictions.
Others want to focus on bolstering the social safety net for parents and families. To that end, prominent anti-abortion leaders have signed onto a new statement urging “significant changes in public policy,” according to the New York Times.
These different agendas have led to a precarious time for the movement that was once unified around ending Roe.
The first march in this new era of abortion policy is focused on “commemorating this historic moment,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
But it’s also about a strategic assessment of where the movement should go next, Mancini said, emphasizing the role both the federal government and states play. The movement is hoping that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will pass legislation restricting how early in pregnancy women across the country can obtain an abortion, even though such legislation won’t make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate.
So, this means that the states will end up playing a major role in abortion rights or abolishing abortions. As FOX4 points out, many states have been successful in passing and advancing bills concerning abortions.
Thirteen states have nearly eliminated abortion access while others have expanded it and enshrined protections into law. In November, voters affirmed abortion rights in every state where the issue was on the ballot, including in conservative states like Montana and Kentucky.
Historically, the march has been “the place everybody had to be if they were anybody in the pro-life movement,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, the author of several books on abortion law and politics.
The March for Life
In the 1960s American public opinion on a variety of issues, including sexuality and abortion, changed. It became much more common for people to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage. The rise of out-of-wedlock births, contraception, and abortion became controversial political issues.
In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that it was indeed constitutional for a woman to terminate her pregnancy, thus leading to the creation of a vigorous anti-abortion movement, according to March for Life history.
The first March for Life, which was founded by Nellie Gray, was held on January 22, 1974, on the West Steps of the Capitol, with organizers claiming 20,000 supporters in attendance. The march was originally intended to be a one-time event, in hopes that the United States Supreme Court would reverse Roe v. Wade immediately a year after its ruling.
As we know, that didn’t happen, leading to this Friday’s 50th March for Life.