I leave the March for Life happier than when I came every year – Here's why

The annual March for Life in Washington commemorates the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, which was handed down on January 22, 1973. Hundreds of thousands peacefully march for those who have no voice, for the women who have been harmed by abortion, for families missing children. I’m one of those women who fall into all those categories.

By some estimates, over 60 million human lives have been taken by abortion since the legalization of abortion. Yet, the March for Life is often filled with the joy of young people –thousands and thousands of teenagers and young adults – who have endured hours on a bus from all over the nation to come to Washington to celebrate life. Why are they so happy? Why do I leave the March for Life every year happier than when I came?

Hope and gratefulness are the reasons. Gratefulness for the life we have and the life we’ve given and hope for the future, to live in a world where abortion becomes unthinkable.

HOW THE MARCH FOR LIFE AND THE WOMEN'S MARCH VALUE WOMEN DIFFERENTLY

I’ve been honored to speak from the main stage at the March in the past and will do so again this year. It’s a thrilling sensation to look out into the crowd and see the unabashed enthusiasm for the pro-life position, for the protection of the most vulnerable among us. It’s not just a rally to commemorate one of the most destructive legal decisions ever written; it’s a powerful, beautiful demonstration of a generation who has lost friends, siblings, and even their own children to abortion. It honors the memory of those lives who have been taken and celebrates the survivors of abortion.

If you talk to the attendees at the March, some will say it’s their first time, that they wanted to come after they heard about it from friends. Others will say it’s their second or third time, that once they experienced the March, they had to come back year after year and be energized by others who shared the same passion for the defense of the voiceless and the desire to help those harmed by abortion.

My first March for Life was in 2010, three months after I left my job in the abortion industry as clinic director at a Planned Parenthood in Texas. It was intensely emotional, shocking in many ways, especially the outright love I saw in the faces of people who I once considered enemies. These weren’t the people who dressed in the Grim Reaper costume outside my clinic (thankfully). This crowd was overwhelmingly young, energetic despite the terrible tragedy they were rallying against, and above all, they were hopeful.

It’s this hope that carries them through the year until they meet again. They hope for a more loving society that cares for women facing unplanned pregnancies, that supports them through a difficult time in their lives and that encourages them to have their child and pursue their education or their career. They hope for more workers like myself to leave abortion clinics so there are no more people willing to assist and perform abortions.

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This hope does not disappoint. The joyful faces swimming in a sea of hundreds of thousands today will hear that their prayers and love will have helped nearly 500 abortion workers leave their jobs in the past six years. They will hear that the power of ultrasound technology has saved an untold number of babies from abortion and converted many others to the pro-life position.

And more than hearing, they will see they are not alone in their convictions, which is perhaps one of the more compelling reasons pro-lifers attend the March for Life. Sometimes this position can be lonely and isolating, especially as the culture continues to divide, pitting sides against each other.

This year I’ll be marching for two people as I’m pregnant with my eighth child. It is a joyful and grateful occasion to get ready to welcome another little one to my family but I’ll also be remembering the reasons why we have to be marching in the first place. I’ll look for my friends in the crowd and still be amazed I’m marching with many, many people who were once on the other side of the fence at the abortion clinic where I worked. And I will hope that one day, maybe soon, we’ll be marching in celebration of when abortion is unthinkable in our nation.