By Michael P. McKeating, J.D.
Chesterton Academy of Buffalo
During the nine-hour bus ride from Buffalo to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life, one of the students raised an interesting question. Essentially the question was, “Why are we doing this? What’s the point? Abortion is still legal, and Roe v. Wade has not been overturned.”
It is not a frivolous question, and it provoked some thought. Are we accomplishing anything?
The answer is, although it is important, even imperative, to work in the legislative arena trying to change laws and the judicial arena bringing about respect-life change through these processes, the battle is not ultimately won in either of these spheres. The battle is won in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.
This is good news, because change of minds and hearts is something the March for Life can and does affect.
There is evidence that the battle is being won in this capacity. Pro-life and anti-abortion sentiment has been growing steadily in this country. A recent nationwide poll conducted by the Marist College in January 2015 shows that 58% of Millennials, or Generation Y, believe that abortion is morally wrong. 51% of the 30-44 age group, Generation X, also opposes abortion on moral grounds. The younger generations are more pro-life than their parents and grandparents – the baby boomers.
These are the highest percentages of pro-life sentiment in decades.
Medical professionals tell us that the increased availability of ultrasounds, through which pregnant women can actually see their babies, has had a profound effect in motivating women who are on the fence to choose life. This is again supporting evidence that the battle is being won at the interpersonal level – contacting and changing hearts directly.
When human hearts and opinions change, grassroots-driven legislation will follow. We are seeing that state legislatures and state courts are restricting abortion in various ways, such as parental notification laws, licensing and regulation laws, laws requiring access to counseling and ultrasound, etc.
A recent article in the Huffington Post, a liberal, pro-abortion publication, lamented that 54 abortion clinics in 27 states had closed in the past three years due to various legislative restrictions enacted as a result of pro-life action. According to a February 2, 2014 story in the New York Times, in 2011 abortions fell to the lowest point since 1981.
Anecdotally, when I attended my first March for Life in 1997, there were an estimated 100,000 marchers. This January, the consensus is that there were more than 250,000. Each one of those marchers, animated by their experience and the witness of others, returns home and witnesses to countless friends, neighbors and family members.
Yes, we are accomplishing something. We are changing minds and hearts – one at a time.
To see more photos from the Chesterton Academy of Buffalo trip to the March for Life 2015, click HERE.