The famous 1973 Supreme Court case affirmed a woman’s right to receive an abortion up through the third trimester of pregnancy. Today, abortion remains a heated debate here in the nation’s capital and across the country.
Nellie Gray, a staunch Catholic, founded the first March for Life event in 1974 and went on to organize it annually until her death in 2012. The new pro-life leader, Jeanne Monahan, took the helm for this year’s event, bringing some surprising changes to the world’s biggest anti-abortion protest.
The March for Life has always been comprised of nearly 50 percent young people under the age of 18, due to the fact that many Catholic schools send students to D.C. to take part in the event. March for Life organizers are looking to harness that youthful power now more than ever, in the hopes of turning the annual rally into a year-long political force.
To do so, this year’s March for Life organizers hired a full-time lobbyist and social media manager to help expand the event’s base from Catholics to all concerned Christians. Their second goal is for the march to branch out in terms of its political focus, moving from just Roe v. Wade to all laws dealing with abortion and birth control. As a result, yesterday’s rally was as much about Obamacare and the right’s claim that it subsidizes abortion as it was about the 1973 case.
With these expanded goals, though, comes a necessarily expanded budget. For years, the March for Life operated on just a $150,000 budget; yesterday’s event reportedly cost some $780,000.
Part of this budget went towards developing a robust social media presence to keep those unable to attend the March for Life still actively engaged in the event. There is an Instagram account that shares photos of the crowds in D.C. as well as homemade signs supporters have submitted using #WhyWeMarch, as well as a robust app, Twitter account and Pinterest.
To keep the atmosphere lively at yesterday’s March, organizers did away with the traditional abundance of speeches from politicians and religious figures, opting instead for a spirited concert by Matt Maher, a popular Catholic singer-songwriter.
Despite all the trappings of an upbeat rally, yesterday’s March for Life rally was still, at its heart, a protest. Marchers chanted slogans such as, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, abortion has got to go,” and “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?!”
Politically, there have been some big changes in America since the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade. And not in the direction one might think.
While those claiming complete opposition to abortion has hovered around 30 percent throughout the last 41 years, state restrictions on abortion have dramatically increased. There are fewer abortion clinics in America today than there were in 1973, and fewer abortions as well. 2010, in fact, saw the fewest abortions in America since the practice began.
Then, in 2011, 92 state laws restricting abortion were passed in the United States – double the number that have been passed any time before or since. Overall, more abortion restriction have been passed in the last three years than in the entire previous decade, suggesting that the pro-life movement is gaining significant traction in state legislatures across the country.