On Friday, for the fiftieth yr in a row, tens of 1000’s of anti-abortion proponents gathered in Washington, DC, to reveal their dedication to “defending the lives of the unborn.” Initially created to protest Roe v. Wade, the 1973 US Supreme Court docket resolution that established the constitutional proper to an abortion, the March For Life has lengthy included distinguished conservatives, native activists, and busloads of college kids from Catholic colleges, all decided to finish authorized abortion.
However as a result of the Supreme Court docket overturned Roe in its 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group resolution, relegating the ability to legislate abortions to particular person states, Friday’s march—occurring simply two days earlier than what would have been the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark ruling—was not like those who got here earlier than it. “Whereas the march started as a response to Roe, we don’t finish as a response to Roe being overturned,” Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life Schooling and Protection Fund, informed the gang. “We are going to proceed to march till abortion is unthinkable.”
With the landmark Supreme Court docket battle behind them, anti-abortion activists now should resolve what to do subsequent, navigating the numerous competing goals among the many broader motion. Are emergency contraceptives thought of abortifacients or not? What about contraceptives usually? Ought to abortion be permitted in circumstances of rape, incest, or to guard the well being of a mom?
Marie Miller, a protestor from Texas, tells me she gained’t be happy till there’s a nationwide abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. Her signal says “Save the harmless child! Slaughter the rapist.”
— Abby Vesoulis (@abbyvesoulis) January 20, 2023
Galvanized by the Dobbs resolution, many March for Life protestors expressed having a renewed sense of power and objective. Members of the Catholic clergy chanted the “Hail Mary” as they marched previous the Smithsonian. Two blocks away, a jumbotron display replayed graphic movies of fetuses being dismembered, that includes textual content overlays stating, “That is her solely child image.” Outdoors the Supreme Court docket, folks knelt down to hope as girls close by on microphones shared tales of abortions they regretted.
“I simply need to say thanks a lot to the Supreme Court docket,” mentioned first-time march participant Beth Eddy, a 68-year-old from Columbus, Ohio.
Whereas former president Donald Trump was the one sitting president to ever take part within the annual occasion, this yr’s speaker checklist skillfully prevented any marquee MAGA associates, and as at all times, quite a lot of spiritual leaders participated, together with Rev. Franklin Graham, an American evangelist. Additionally included within the lineup had been Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, who together with Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, launched federal laws that might ban abortion after 15 weeks gestation.
“Clearly a new nationwide debate on abortion has begun as lawmakers on the state degree particularly act in a short time,” Smith mentioned, mentioning the states the place legislators are attempting to ban abortion as early as six weeks. “Regrettably, the pro-abortion tradition of denial, a modern-day ‘flat earth society’, continues to disrespect child ladies and boys.”
With the judicial battle of toppling Roe behind them, nationwide laws has turn into a extra essential purpose for the anti-abortion motion, and this purpose was mirrored within the route of the march itself. As a substitute of marching on to the steps of the Supreme Court docket, because the group has completed for 49 years, the protesters walked across the Capitol Constructing, the place they hope US lawmakers ultimately will vote to limit the liberty to decide on country-wide. Congress is “the brand new entrance in our battle for all times,” March For Life organizers famous on their web site.
The Home, lower than one month into its new session, already handed a invoice laying out felony penalties for physicians who fail to attempt to revive infants born after an tried abortion. Federal legislation already requires medical doctors to offer life-saving care to infants born alive throughout or after a failed abortion try, however the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Safety Act” would make clear what varieties of medical intervention are required and create penalties for medical doctors who don’t comply. A fetus surviving an abortion is extremely uncommon since 93 p.c of abortions are carried out at or earlier than 13 weeks gestation and earlier than viability. Republicans now management the Home of Representatives, however such anti-abortion laws will go nowhere within the US Senate, the place most laws requires 60 votes to cross, and the place Democrats presently have a 51-49 majority.
With Congress deadlocked, March For Life is devoting a lot of its ongoing efforts to native battles. Regardless of Dobbs, abortion remains to be authorized in 38 states—one thing March For Life needs to vary by increasing its organizing efforts. Because the protestors marched away from the Nationwide Mall, clutching rosaries and singing, giant audio system echoed above to remind them of their subsequent purpose. “State marches are extra essential than ever,” a voice blared.
However profitable these state battles gained’t be simple. Pew Analysis Heart reviews that 62 p.c of the nation helps authorized abortion in all or most circumstances, and abortion rights had been a profitable challenge in all six states by which they had been on the poll within the 2022 midterms.