Hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., last Friday to take part in the March for Life, the largest pro-life demonstration in the nation.
The march's legacy began with the 1973 landmark Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, and it takes place on or around the Roe anniversary every year in Washington, D.C.
And it isn't confined by borders. In a tweet published by the March for Life, one marcher said he had come from as far away as Holland to stand for life and characterized abortion as a "global issue." March for Life culminates in Prague, Paris, and Warsaw every year, but you'd never know it because of what little coverage it receives in the media.
Students chant and march to the Supreme Court at the 2020 March for Life. Photo by Samantha Sullivan
Busloads of students were chaperoned into the city by teachers, youth pastors, and parents to march for what they believe is the gravest human rights injustice in our lifetime: abortion. In fact, I shared a plane ride from Dallas to Washington with a group of Catholic high school students surely on their way to the march.
To be frank, I felt like a "boomer" at all the events I covered Thursday and Friday. Everyone was so young. I was officially one of the "old" people in the room. Nevertheless, I tried to blend in to absorb as much of the expo as I could while pretending I wasn't completely baffled by how young this movement is.
The March for Life 2020 formally kicked off with a youth expo Thursday morning at the Renaissance Hotel in D.C.
A panel of quick-witted, hysterically funny women spoke to a room brimming with teens. Their goal was to equip them with the information they need to challenge modern feminist dogmas about abortion by invoking first-wave feminist arguments against it.
Guest panelist, pro-life author, and former Cosmo writer Dr. Sue Ellen Browder called on pro-life women to take back the 'f-word': feminism. Everyone in the room loved that.
Christina Francis, board-certified Ob/Gyn and pro-life speaker addressed the March for Life Youth Expo at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo by Samantha Sullivan
March for Life's theme this year was "pro-life is pro-woman," and pro-life women are intent on reclaiming the narrative modern feminism hijacked.
First-wave feminism taught us that "the crime of abortion" was bad for men and women but there's no Ying to this Yang like modern feminists would have you believe. Early feminists rejected abortion outright in newspaper editorials where they debated infanticide's prevalence and prostitution.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini gave opening remarks to a room packed with teenagers before passing the podium on to the expo's keynote speaker and pro-life legal scholar, Erika Bachiochi. Bachiochi opened the discussion by questioning the authenticity of reproductive justice in an impassioned speech to an attentive young audience.
From left to right: Katie Yoder, Dr. Sue Ellen Browder, Christina Francis, Marcy McClusky, Brandi Swindell Photo by Samantha Sullivan
This year marks the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920 fortifying the gist of this year's theme.
Bachiochi cited several early feminist scholars throughout her speech who rejected the idea of abortion, including Victoria Woodhull, a leader of the women's suffrage movement, and the first female to ever run for president.
Before delivering her closing remarks, Bachiochi encouraged young people to think carefully about how to respond personally and culturally to abortion.
Then a panel, led by Katie Yoder of National Review, took on the topic of abortion's impact in the culture war. Michelle Williams, who justified her abortion for success at the 77th Annual Golden Globes Awards, served as just one of the examples.
One of the bubbly panelists, Brandi Swindell of Stanton Healthcare, a life-affirming clinic dedicated to unexpected pregnancy care, proudly donned a purple pro-life sash as a symbolic gesture to reclaiming feminism.
Swindell dubbed it "the purple sash revolution."
Brandi Swindell of Stanton Healthcare Photo by Samantha Sullivan
After the panel was an expo with dozens of pro-life organizations from around the country who offered resources to women seeking abortions or have had them.
One thing Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby fail to mention is that there are options available to women seeking abortions as well as after care for those who have had them. The business of abortion has become a predatory practice driven by misinformation. It also preys on the most vulnerable: women and children. But there is a faithful momentum within the pro-life movement that strives to reach women who fall prey to the abortion lobby's death grip.
Swindell of Stanton Healthcare, which opened in 2006, said she strategically places life-affirming clinics near Planned Parenthoods throughout the country, and her efforts have paid off. She told me she has saved more than 1,000 babies who would have otherwise been aborted.
What the media don't tell women is that there's an overwhelming sense of hope within the movement that doesn't seek to harm but uplift. If you ever have the chance to attend this march, you'll realize that out of the gate. Every message was a message of compassion for women who've been convinced by Planned Parenthood, Hollywood, and our culture that abortion is their only alternative.
At the expo, teens were reminded about the importance of relating and respecting those whose views on abortion differ from their own. That's what makes this movement so different. There's a lack of vulgarity, anger, and disorder.
On Friday, when I arrived to the march, it wasn't what I was expecting. Despite the grave issue that is at stake, pro-lifers embody the unwavering sense of hope that abortion will end in their lifetime.
A spokesperson for the March for Life told me the march usually attracts 100,000 attendees per year but estimated that number would be larger this year with President Trump in attendance.
Pro-lifers gather to witness President Trump's address to the March for Life. Photo by Samantha Sullivan
The first group I interviewed at the march was a group of teenage boys from Detroit Catholic Central High School in Michigan.
"Why do you march?" I asked.
"I love this experience. It's one of the greatest weekends of the year, and I'm just happy to be here," a student told me.
Another student said he disagreed with abortion because "you basically take away a soul, a soul that was a gift from God."
The most poignant answers — which I believe differentiates the pro-life movement from any other movement — was their response to the advice they'd give a woman considering an abortion.
"I would tell her that I love her and I respect her. But I encourage her to go deeper, to look into her heart and to realize that it's way more than just a choice. It is life," one pro-lifer told me. Much of the answers echoed the same sentiment.
And although the march attracts an estimated 100,000 attendees per year, it receives little coverage from major news outlets.
According to the Media Research Center, the major networks dedicated a total of 28 seconds to the historic march. "ABC World News Tonight" gave the march 15 seconds, and "CBS This Morning: Saturday" gave it 13 seconds. NBC ignored it altogether.
While major news networks were blatant about downplaying the momentum of the march and the significance of the first-ever presidential address at the March for Life, CBS News online was unquestionably intentional when they aired an interview with Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson instead of President Trump's speech.
In a similar manner, NBC's "Today" featured an interview with "SNL" star Aidy Bryant who was given airtime to tout an episode that featured an abortion in the second season of her Hulu show, "Shrill."
"CBS Evening News" aired an interview with a woman who had lost her frozen embryos in a nasty divorce battle while ignoring hundreds of thousands of people who marched peacefully — and prayed and sang and danced — all the way to the Supreme Court to champion the right to life.
Contrast the media's treatment of the March for Life to the Women's March and you'll notice a glaring disparity.
In its inaugural march in 2017, ABC, CBS, and NBC dedicated 127 times more airtime to the Women's March than they dedicated to the March for Life.
The combined total among the three major networks for that year was one hour, 15 minutes, and 18 seconds for the Women's March. The March for Life that year got 35 seconds — 22 of which were dedicated to a group who attended the march and found themselves caught in a blizzard on their way home.
In 2018, President Trump addressed the March for Life via satellite, yet ABC, CBS, and NBC dedicated 25 minutes and 24 seconds to the Women's March and a mere 3 minutes and 46 seconds to the March for Life.
If you noticed the lack of "pink p***y" hats in your newsfeeds this year it's because the Women's March in Washington, D.C., went nearly unnoticed due to a drastic drop in attendance. The first march was one of the largest in the nation's history, coming in at 500,000 to 1 million attendees. This year's march didn't even hit the figure they expected when they applied for a permit of 25,000 — because half were no-shows.
If attendance at the March for Life dwindled, it'd be a story worthy of a push notification in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
However, the story of the March for Life couldn't be more different than that of the Women's March — or any march for that matter.
The pro-life movement is thriving while the Women's March is dying.
If the abortion lobby can't mobilize a youth movement the way the pro-life movement has, what future does grassroots abortion really have?