Changing Prolife Movement

Fr. Peter Daly

Parish Diary

February 3, 2010


Fr. Peter Daly talks about changes in the pro-life movement he has observed over the years of attending the pro-life march. 603 words.


            I participated in the March for Life this year. I think it was my 15th time. The March has been held 36 times since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

            It seems to me that there have been subtle changes in the March and the pro-life movement over the years I have been participating.

            Many things are the same, of course.

            The geographically, the march still covers the same ground, beginning at the Mall and ending at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

             Morally, the march still has the same objective. We want to change our society and our laws so we will reducing the number of abortions in the U.S.

            But some of the atmosphere around the march has changed since I first participated in 1979.  

            First, the March is more of a Catholic show.

            Nearly every banner around me was from some Catholic group. There were a few evangelical and Orthodox Christian groups. I only saw one group each of Anglicans and orthodox Jews. The overwhelming majority of marchers were Catholic.

            Second, the March is getting younger.

            In the past there were a lot of grey heads in the crowd. Now the grey heads seem to be mostly on the podium. Today the crowd is made up of thousands of teenagers and young adults.  Their signs say that they are generation that “survived Roe v. Wade”.

            Young crowds are very enthusiastic. They are filled with chants and rhythms. This crowd was no different. Youth is the time of life for idealism. The pro-life position is the idealistic position regarding abortion. It calls for self-sacrifice and reverence for others. The pro-choice position, by contrast, is laregely self centered.

            The tide of public opinion is shifting, especially among young people. They are increasingly pro-life. The march reflects that youthful dimension.

            Third, even though the march protests a Supreme Court decision, it seems to be more about changing minds than changing laws. Creating a culture of life is by definition more of a cultural struggle than a legal struggle. If we want to create a culture of life, we must change minds and hearts.

            Some new groups on the pro-life scene are emblematic of this tonal shift.

            One of those groups is called “Silent No More.” It is composed of women who have had abortions and are now willing to discuss the pain and trauma that followed. This group also includes men who participated in abortions and now regret their lost fatherhood.

            The night before the March for Life our parish held a pro-life rally. At the rally we heard from Leslie Dean, a member of “Silent No More”. Her message was about telling the truth and leading people to willingly choose life. She was promoting the idea that every pregnant woman and potential father should see an ultra-sound image of their baby in the womb. Once they see the baby moving its arms and kicking its legs, they will choose life. Surveys reveal that more than 96% who see the ultra-sound image choose life.

            A step like requiring the ultra sound image is less about the compulsion than it is about persuasion.  It is less about legislation than it is about information that leads to conversion of heart. It says that we have confidence in the truth. The pro-life position is the truth.

             Ultimately I think that this is where the pro-life movement will be victorious.