A Few Observations from the March for Life
On the bus from Bethesda-Chevy Chase down to the Mall, a lady named Josepha passes around an ad in the Washington Times. It lists 92 Catholics in Congress with pro-abortion voting records, along with the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of their bishops (click for PDF poster.
Donna offers to provide a list of the fax numbers of all the chanceries in the U.S. Then Donna and Josepha begin to argue about what line bishops should take on admitting openly pro-abortion politicians to Communion. Josepha protests that that would be judgmental (“Exactly” Donna interjects) and thinks it is a matter of conscience and divisive and how could we know what is in another’s heart?
Donna quotes Canon Law 915: “Those who…obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Communion.” She explains that canon law prescribes a graduated sequence of communications and admonitions. When the person remains publicly obstinate, he has declared himself out of communion. The discussion continues as we walk from the bus to the Ellipse. Josepha and some others have a hard time grasping the idea, but they finally realize that it is far from being divisive. Refusing Communion to an obstinate public sinner is not only logical but necessary for unity, and part of an effort to effect reformation.
It’s cold, mostly overcast, windy, and raw during the March. Piles of snow from two days earlier are everywhere. Not the coldest March I’ve been on, or the snowiest, but colder and snowier than most.
The marchers seem more Catholic every year. There are fewer banners from Protestant churches or Jewish groups. It’s also, I’m glad to see, a young crowd. Lots of high school and college kids. I walk with a contingent from Christendom College in Front Royal, Va. Part of the way we say the Rosary and sing Latin hymns.
Behind us are Youth 4 Life from North Carolina. They are chanting
Our toes are numb
Our buns are blue.
We’re Pro-Life . . .
How about you?
and What do we want
How do we want them?
The Washington Post
will manage to find some counter demonstrators to photograph, but I see only one group. They are standing on the curb opposite the Natural History Museum holding two big banners, black with bold white letters. One says “Don’t have sex with pro-lifers”.
The March ends, as always, in front of the Supreme Court building. The crowd disperses slowly, having to squeeze through on the sidewalk between street construction and the buxom sea nymphs in front of the Library of Congress.
We head down First to C St., S.E., where some pro-life members of Congress are having a reception for marchers at the Capitol Hill Club. We seem to be the second shift. There are only whispers of Important Names in the air, the refreshments are pretty well grazed out, and the GOP Team Leader travel mugs go before I can get one. But soon the coffee urns are refilled, fresh baguette baskets, cheese spreads, and crudité are set out, and we can doff our parkas for a while and network. Chris Smith
(R-NJ) shows up. He says the usual “wonderful marchers” stuff, and adds that he met his wife on a Right-to-Life March. It’s an auspicious time for the anti-abortion movement, he says. Tomorrow the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act
(S. 51, H.R. 356)” would be introduced. It will require that women more than 20-weeks pregnant seeking an abortion be informed of her fetus’ ability to feel pain and offered an opportunity to have the fetus anaesthetized before it is ripped to pieces.
If Google is to be believed, the MSM took no notice, though not everyone
understands indirection (not to say the rare irony) in politics.
About 5 o’clock, we walk back to the Supreme Court. As we trudge up First St., a Capitol Hill woman strides between us and mutters “It’s my body, dammit!” We are puzzled, because there is nothing to mark us as RTL marchers. We finally decide she wasn’t even talking to us, just reacting to a pile of “Respect Life” placards in a trash can by the subway entrance.
At the Supreme Court., more than a dozen women who regret their abortions have gathered. They are from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign
, a project of Priests for Life. Some had abortions thirty years ago, some a few years ago. Many had been teenagers who were pressured to have the abortion by parents, boyfriends, and boyfriend’s parents. A good number had been adults. The phrase “blob of cells” occurs again and again. The girls were told “it’s just a blob of cells”. Older women, even nurses, told themselves that. The clinic staff told them “You’ll feel fine tomorrow”.
After the abortions came drug and alcohol abuse, depression, promiscuity, infertility, miscarriages, inability to bond with children. This is the language of abuse, of post-traumatic stress. There are a few men among them, grieving for the child they had not protected. Some are fathers now, but the abortions had killed the earlier relationships.
As it gets dark and cold, they step up on the podium and tell their stories. They are in various stages of grief and reconciliation. It is after seven when they finish.
The little crowd almost blocks the broad sidewalk. Most pedestrians squeeze through quietly, but some make a scene. One young woman starts singing “Walking in a Winter Wonder Land” half a block away and keeps it up at the top of her voice as she walks past with an exaggerated jauntiness. Another young woman speeds up as she reaches the crowd, grating loudly “Just get out of the way”.
Two very young women—college age—pause to listen for a moment. I see the placards they are carrying. One says “Roe v. Wade saves lives”. The other says “A blob of cells vs. a woman’s life. That’s a choice?”