The world's largest pro-life event is set for today in Washington, D.C., and Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) tells AFN the spirit will be a little different this year.
"Instead of marking the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which could have been very possible, we are celebrating the first year without it," she says. "I expect this to be a jubilant, joyous celebration of life."
Since last June, when the Supreme Court struck down Roe and returned authority over abortion to individual states, 12 Republican-governed states have implemented sweeping bans on abortion, and several others seek to do the same. However, pro-life ballot measures were defeated in Kansas, Michigan, and Kentucky, and some state courts have blocked several bans from taking effect.
So as efforts are underway to help women in pro-life states either get abortions out of state or use the abortion pill for self-managed procedures, Tobias recently likened the situation to "the old wild, wild West," saying, "Everything is still shaking out."
One thing she predicts will be the same is that the March for Life crowd of hundreds of thousands will be dominated by young people who want to stop losing their brothers and sisters to abortion.
Once it is over, Tobias says the marchers will return home with a heavy workload. She says the march and the activities leading up to and following it are designed to motivate participants to rise to the challenge.
"We need to make abortion unthinkable," she submits. "We need to convince women that killing their children is not going to be the answer, [and] we need to convince women not to travel across state lines."
So while she recognizes that pro-lifers "do have a lot of work ahead of us," Tobas is certain the movement is determined, and she believes the coming years are going to be "great" ones.
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
Many of those returning home after the March for Life will continue their celebration on Sunday, when many churches will recognize "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday." Carolyn Doyle of Life Matters Worldwide tells AFN the purpose in the designation is to draw support for life "from womb to the tomb" and remind churchgoers that abortion takes a human life.
The first responder, says Doyle, is the Church. "No matter what denomination or whatever, they have a responsibility to hold life high, to remind people how God regards life," she shares, "and [God] tells us to guard and to honor life, to value life, to cherish life, to love one another."
Many pastors are expected to preach on the value of life and to motivate their members to take a stand. That, according to Doyle, is a key.
"We have our individual responsibilities – and that's to love our neighbors well, to love people who may find themselves in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy," she adds. "How we respond to them can be truly life-giving or life-taking, quite honestly."
In January 1989, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. In that proclamation, Reagan called upon all Americans "to recognize the personhood of every individual and to defend the life of every innocent person from the moment of conception until natural death."
This story was updated to include comments from Carolyn Doyle of Life Matters Worldwide.