Around two-hundred thousand passionate pro-life advocates are gearing up for a visit to our nation’s capital Monday to join in the annual March for Life.   It’s the left’s worst nightmare because the majority of the crowd will be under the age of thirty.  This movement is not going away anytime soon.

This year’s event marks the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the U.S. Supreme Court’s most devastating and destructive ruling — and celebrates a year of unprecedented pro-life victories.

Concerned Women for America and our college chapters’ Young Women for America will be joining with our own events.  But as we enter into 2012 and continue the fight for life, it is crucial to remember that changing legislation without changing hearts produces limited success.

Thanks to our Founding Fathers and the principles laid out in the documents that are the foundation of our country, including the Declaration of  Independence, Americans are guaranteed that every individual, no matter how young or old, possesses the inalienable right to life, a right endowed by our Creator.  The Justices of the Supreme Court got it wrong when they ruled in against life in Roe vs. Wade, and we must continue to challenge their decision on every possible front.

After all these years what the mainstream media refuses to understand that the breadth of the pro-life movement, however,  is that our opposition to Roe vs. Wade goes way beyond just changing the law.

The heart of the pro-life movement is not really the courts or the Congress or even the state legislatures.  Those are the brains.

No, the heart of the movement is encapsulated by all the millions of volunteers who toil away in anonymity, working to support and defend life.

They work to support the unborn in faith-based charitable organizations like the estimated 4,000 Crisis Pregnancy Centers throughout the nation and a branch of Young Life called YoungLives located in 200 communities worldwide.

They offer ongoing support, resources, and counseling to women in a crisis pregnancy.  These private programs supply everything from diapers and bottles to love and respect for scared pregnant teenagers and women who would otherwise consider abortion as their only option. Additionally, these loving groups offer practical care giving training for parents, educate the public on compassionate alternatives to abortion,  and offer unconditional grace to women suffering from post-abortion trauma.

The culture against which these volunteers fight was epitomized last week in the news story of sweet, three-year-old Amelia Riviera.  Amelia was denied a kidney transplant because she has Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome, a cognitive development disorder.  Apparently, doctors don’t see the benefit of a transplant, because in their eyes it might not improve Amelia’s “quality of life” enough.

But therein lies the problem.

Human beings have taken it upon themselves to decide which lives are worthy of living and place little value on “inconvenient” or “imperfect” lives.  Why do they think they have the right to make that decision?

To end abortion we need to change the culture ; to change the culture we need to change hearts.

Clearly, pro-life polices are a necessary step towards ending abortion, but their purpose transcends telling a woman what she can and cannot do.  They are vital tools that educate women and change society’s attitudes toward unborn babies and the heinous “choice” of abortion.

During the past year, we have made tremendous gains for the unborn in policy.  The Guttmacher Institute, a “reproductive rights” (i.e., wildly pro-abortion) research center, admits the pro-life initiative made record-breaking success in legislation by passing 1,100 new restrictions on abortions.

Texas successfully passed a sonogram bill which requires a mother see and hear the heartbeat of her baby before she can opt for an abortion, and six states have imposed “fetal pain” bills that deny abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

As a result of recent pro-life initiatives attitudes are definitely changing, and life is being celebrated more and more.  A recent Gallup poll revealed that 51 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, while only 42 percent describe themselves as “pro-choice.”

While we’re working to change minds, we need to change hearts as well.

Women are essential in ending the assault on the unborn because, in the end, it is a mother who must ultimately cherish the growing life in her womb.  A mother is a child’s first line of defense.

One mother chose to celebrate the life of her baby and extend grace, even when it meant risking her life.  While pregnant and working as a missionary in the Philippines, she contracted a life-threatening infection.  Doctors told her that she should abort her baby, because it was increasing her health complications and, they believed, the child would be stillborn.

Pam Tebow chose life, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Tim, who has grown into an admirable, well-respected athlete and role model to millions.

Why did Pam choose the life of her child over her own?  It was because she holds a deep reverence for life and adheres to the higher calling of a God Who instructs her to love mercy and embrace grace.  No earthly law could instill these values.

As we continue the fight to save unborn lives, we must embrace grace and extend it to one another.  Yes, it’s time society offer grace to the innocent unborn, but it is especially crucial that we offer grace to those who have been suckered by the abortion industry into making irrevocable mistakes.  I know it seems cliché, but consider the effects:

Bernard Nathanson was a champion of the pro-abortion movement and an abortion doctor who committed an estimated 75,000 abortions during the 1970s.  Then, Nathanson witnessed a sonogram capture the abortion of a baby, who winced and struggled away from an abortion utensil.

Almost immediately after he witnessed the sonogram, he quit performing abortions.

Sadly, he spiraled deep into guilt and depression — until a friend told him about God. Nathanson accepted God’s grace and went on to become one of the most effective pro-life advocates in the health care industry.

We are winning the fight, and a renewed focus on restoring a culture of life has never been more important.  Start now.
Celebrate life. … Embrace grace. … End abortion.

Penny Young Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.