As we have been preparing for the 51st annual March for Life, and the second post-Roe anniversary, our organization has been reflecting on what ‘theme’ or message our culture most needs to hear right now. The false narrative around abortion – whether it be through mainstream media or the entertainment industry or academia — is that abortion is empowering, healthy, and necessary. Such a fear-based message convinces mothers facing an unexpected pregnancy that they are alone, incapable, and ill-equipped to handle motherhood. We disagree, and hold that choosing life is empowering, and that love saves lives!
Mother Teresa famously said that abortion is profoundly anti-woman: all of the mothers and half of the babies are women. I shudder at the number of lives lost – tens of millions – tragically taken by abortion. At the same time, I am reminded of the heart-wrenching testimonies of mothers I’ve met who, in regret of such a choice, are now left to manage their pain and grief.
But for the pro-life movement, this darkness is not the final word. In fact, we know that when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy, she most needs to hear that ‘you can do this!’ and that ‘I will be there to help you!’
For decades, the pro-life movement has done just that – empowered and supported women – through a heroic network of over 3,400 community-based maternity homes and pregnancy resource centers around the nation that help women overcome fear, anxiety, poverty, addiction, abuse, and more, while showering mothers and babies with resources, love and a familial community that many have never experienced.
One such example is Gina Tomes, founder of the maternity home Bethlehem House in Omaha, Nebraska, who spoke at the 50th annual March for Life. The fruitfulness of Gina’s work with moms facing unexpected pregnancies amazed me. Bethlehem House has successfully broken cycles of brokenness, substance abuse, homelessness, and more in over 1,200 women, children, and families. Homes and centers like Gina’s do far more than merely help women embrace life. Most focus on providing the resources, love, and support necessary to help women, children and families live happy, successful lives.
Similarly, local pro-lifers often coordinate diaper or clothing drives or baby showers to benefit their local pregnancy care center. Maternity homes host regular joyful ‘family’ dinner nights where the mothers laugh and cook with their children and new friends. These organizations not only save lives, but they transform the lives they touch for generations.
Shawnte Mallory, for example, was once a homeless expecting mother whose experience at Mary’s Shelter in Fredericksburg, VA, enabled her to choose life, achieve stable housing, and become a certified nursing assistant in addition to becoming a trauma counselor and a student of theology. Far from being the ‘exception,’ women like Shawnte are increasingly becoming the ‘rule’ thanks to the courageous, selfless work of pro-life advocates.
Consider also the inspiring stories of Danielle, Mikaela, Da’Chiron and Tammi, to Claire, Mary Pat, Kathleen, and so many others, which powerfully show that love truly does save lives. They also highlight the reality that the pro-life movement’s story is one of redemption, hope and joy. It’s a story of over 800,000 lives saved since 2016 alone. It’s a story where women lift up other women and empower each other to give back so that others also find hope and support when facing an unexpected pregnancy.
Pregnancy Care Centers and Maternity Homes are the very backbone of our movement; the leaders and volunteers behind such centers heroically work to build a culture of life. The courage that inspired so many men and women to look beyond themselves in serving others will sustain our movement as we continue lovingly walking with women and providing them with real choices and hope for a better future.
In light of these beautiful truths, the most fitting theme for the 2024 March for Life and the pro-life movement in this moment is ‘Pro-Life: With Every Woman, For Every Child.’ Our theme will serve as a compelling reminder of what the pro-life mission is all about – not just for our marchers, but also for those who oppose us, who I pray will one day join us in our work to build a culture of life and love.
Very soon, on January 19, 2024, pro-life advocates from all over the nation and world will fill the National Mall and march for moms and babies through the streets of Washington D.C. I look forward to that day – when young marchers are brimming with excitement and joy, when the bagpipes, student cheers and prayers rise up once again announcing our presence, when the wind-pinched smiles of the old mingle with those of the young, when the laughter of children can be heard from block to block, and when the cheers of the crowds echo throughout our nation’s capital and across generations with a simple yet powerful message:
No woman is truly ever alone, because the pro-life movement is here walking with every woman, for every child.