A Contrast of Character at the March for Life

Written by Richard C. BakerThe 5th annual March for Life Chicago—one of many being held nationwide to remember the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision—took over the Loop on Sunday, January 13, 2019. In the 5 years that the March has taken place in Chicago, I have watched it grow from just a small crowd to an estimated 7,000, filling the Federal Plaza and spilling over into the surrounding streets, before taking to the route through the Loop. Groups from all over the Midwest: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and Missouri, all joined to commemorate what has been called the deadliest mistake in Supreme Court history: Roe v. Wade; and to combine their voices in support for the sanctity of all human life.

With them, the pro-life marchers brought the joyful presence of hope, and their signs and disposition reflected this message. See a sample of their signs below:

(From left: "Your Body, My First Home" "Illinois Loves Life" "Save the Baby Humans" "Peace Begins in the Womb")

Also in the vicinity were some 200 pro-choice protesters with their signs emitting hate and hostility:The contrast between a pro-life march and so many others is stark in both method and message, and that was on full display in Chicago. From my perspective as a participant for these last 5 years, the March for Life is more like a joyful parade than a protest. As Cardinal Cupich stated of the March’s message: “We’re taking a step once again to ensure that all human life is safe and that everyone’s part of the human family is respected.” The crowd was predominantly young and hopeful, listening respectfully as speaker after speaker reiterated the theme that we are all unique and valuable from day one and also speaking of the wonder taking place in the formation of little lives being knit together daily in their mothers’ wombs.

Before the march began, there were many speakers in Federal Plaza: some students, some parents, some religious, and some political. Republican Congressman Darin LaHood, was courageously joined by Congressman Dan Lipinski who declared: “I’m a Democrat. We all have our differences. But we all agree science shows us life begins at conception. There is nothing more important than protecting life. We’ll keep working and fighting until there are no more abortions.” Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation spoke with gratefulness for the courage of his mother who, in dire circumstances, chose not to kill him in the womb, but allowed him to live and enjoy the life God had given him. Another speaker, a young mother holding her young daughter on her hip, spoke of the joy and grace she found in following the advice of a prolife counselor who persuaded her not to have an abortion.

Standing on the Eastern rim of the Plaza across Dearborn Street, the pro-abortion protesters were in stark contrast. While few in numbers, their tactic was to shout angry mantras into bull horns and beat drums to drown out the pro-life speakers. As this brief clip shows, you can hear them desperately trying to drown out the pro-life message:

As the Sun Times reported of one of the counter protest organizers, a 19-year-old Columbia College student:

“I helped organize the counter-protest because it’s important to me to stand up for my right to determine whether or not I want to start a family,”… “It’s also important because neo-Nazis and white supremacists find cover among the Pro-Life protesters, with their view being women should be incubators to perpetuate white supremacy.”

I looked in vain for the neo-Nazi and white supremacists being sheltered in the pro-life crowd. After it was all over, I balanced the images and experiences I encountered at the March and was struck with the prophet Moses’ admonition to the Jews about to enter the Promised Land: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you and I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”. Deut. 30:19.

Listen to my podcast with Kevin Grillot, Vice President of the March for Life Chicago, to hear more about the future of the pro-life movement and how we can effectively respond to the opposition.

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