The Reason We March for Life

Civility Is Not a Strategy

Last Friday was a great day for pro-lifers. It was also a great reminder of why we treat all of our opponents with respect—even if they don’t return the favor.

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John Stonestreet

You really have to see the time-lapse video to get a sense of the scope. Last Friday a river of people flowed past the U.S. Capitol building on their way to the Supreme Court, marching on behalf of those whom Washington, D.C. has long treated as invisible. The 44th annual March for Life drew an immense crowd—hundreds of thousands commemorating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and for yet another year, praying for an end to abortion.

But this year, the mood was noticeably different. More hopeful. Even excited. As Vice-President Mike Pence said in his address to the crowd—the first ever from a sitting vice president—it was “the best day for the March for Life in more ways than one.”

So much has changed in the space of the last twelve months. I remember last year’s march under the clouds of a looming snowstorm and an uncertain legal future. More recently, the discouraging Supreme Court decision striking down common-sense safety regulations on Texas abortion clinics even had some in the media announcing “the end of the pro-live movement.”

It seemed, as a writer at Vox put it last year, “the culture wars are over and the winners are roaming the countryside looking for survivors to shoot.” How long ago that feels now with a pro-life majority in Congress, and a president who at least seems interested in keeping campaign promises to fight for the unborn. As Vice-President Pence told the crowd on Friday, “life is winning again in America.”

And then there was another speaker you might have heard of: a guy named Eric Metaxas, who contrasted the March for Life with the recent Women’s March which excluded pro-lifers. “This is the inclusive march,” he said, “where as long as you are alive and a human being, you are welcome!”

And then he did something that, to be honest, I think only Eric could pull off. He led the crowd in praying for Madonna, who topped the hysteria of other celebrities at the Women’s March by flinging profanities from the podium and saying she longed to blow up the White House.

“Jesus told us to pray for our enemies,” said Eric. “And we’re crazy! We do it!”

daily_commentary_02_01_17Eric’s theme was one I picked up on later that evening in my speech for the Evangelicals for Life conference. With the pro-life momentum in Washington, the temptation to look at those on the other side of this issue with contempt and even to seek revenge is going to be strong. But the response we must give is one of civility and gentleness.

Whether it was Eric, Vice-President Pence, or the hundreds of thousands of marchers invading the nation’s capital, I saw the best and brightest of the pro-life movement demonstrating love and compassion. Not only for the smallest victims of abortion, but for those taken captive by the hollow and deceptive philosophy of the pro-abortion movement.

Why civility? Well, certainly not because the other side reciprocates! And not because it’s “a winning strategy,” either. We do it because it’s right, because we embrace the core conviction that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. We see our opponents in the abortion debate not as enemies to be defeated, but as victims themselves of bad ideas—captives that need to be set free.

As Vice-President Pence said, we want our movement to be known for “love, not anger…compassion, not confrontation.” That’s why we marched, and that’s why countless Americans will continue to descend on the capital year after year to make their voices heard until Roe v. Wade is overturned for the bad law it is and we see an end to the greatest injustice of our time. God willing, that day is near.

Eric’s speech—and mine as well—are featured this week on our BreakPoint podcast. Please, come to BreakPoint.org to find it, or simply subscribe to the BreakPoint podcast on your smartphone.

Further Reading and Information
The Reason We March for Life: Civility Is not a Strategy

As John said, we are all made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with civility and respect, no exceptions. Click on the links below to listen to Eric and John as they present the reason we march for life. The podcast is here at BreakPoint.org. And for pro-life resources, download the "21 Days of Prayer for Life" prayer guide here, and check out the books from our online bookstore.


Eric Metaxas, John Stonestreet podcast
2017 March for Life events

Respecting Human Dignity Through Civil Discourse, video
John Stonestreet | Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

21 Days of Prayer for Life, pdf
prayer guide

Click here to get to the 21 Days of Prayer for Life on your mobile device.

Available at the online bookstore

The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture
Scott Klusendorf | Crossway Books Publisher | March 2009

Why Pro-Life?: Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers
Randy Alcorn | Hendrickson Publishers | November 2012


Partial response to GP's 2nd comment
To answer your question about the Florida murder of a pregnant woman: "If this woman had stated that she did not want the child, even before witnesses that could testify, would that child suddenly lose its status as person, and would Markeith Loyd be free from the charge of the murder of the child?"

I'm not a lawyer either, and I don't know what Florida law says about this matter. But I live in northern California where one Scott Peterson was convicted of the murder of his wife, Laci, and unborn child Conner. During the time between Scott's arrest and his conviction, the local TV news media repeatedly explained the law in California against murder, as it applies to fetuses. They said the state considers a fetus to be a person, for the purpose of applying the murder law, if his/her mother wants him/her. That's why she can legally have an abortion and neither she nor the abortionist is arrested for murdering the fetus. Scott could be arrested for the murder of his unborn son Conner because he was a person, and he was a person because his mother Laci (before she herself was murdered) wanted him.

If Florida has a similar law (and I rather think it does, since all state laws against abortion, like it or not, were effectively wiped off the books when the Roe v. Wade decision was pronounced), then the answer to your question, as far as state law is concerned, is yes.

I am pro-life and as such, largely agree with your comment. I'm just giving what I believe the state law says about your question, like it or not (and of course, I don't).
Don't be angry?
John - you quote Mike Pence as saying that the March for Life is a time to show “love, not anger…compassion, not confrontation.” Well, I am angry that people made in God's image are being slaughtered 'willy-nilly'. And I believe God is too. So I would prefer to say that the March should be a place where we show our (and God's) anger in a loving and compassionate way, confronting God's enemies with a fuller understanding of God's appraisal of abortion. Remember, the cross is where God's wrath and mercy meet! We should be showing both, mindful that mercy triumphs over judgement. Incidentally, on Saturday 11 February, I hope to participate in the Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) March for Life. The Queensland Parliament will shortly debate law changes to not only decriminalise abortion, but to make it illegal to demonstrate against it. Please pray!
Government officials obligated to Constitution's p
We should insist that our government officials support the Constitution as they have sworn to do.
Under the Constitution, the Supreme Court has never been authorized to enact laws nor to amend the Constitution. I think to write or speak of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is a mistake that hinders the return to the basic protection of innocent human life recognized and affirmed by America's founders and the Constitution.

While I share your goal of protecting innocent human life, I caution you against giving ground to the enemy (of life) by using the language to indicate that the Roe v. Wade accomplished legalizing abortion or making the deliberate killing of innocent unborn human being legal.
The Roe v. Wade decision was a wrong opinion about a particular case. According to the Constitution of the United States the Supreme Court is not granted any authority to make or enact laws or to amend the Constitution (Articles III and V). Furthermore, the Constitution affirms: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” (Article VI, Section 2) The Judges (and Supreme Court) are therefore subject to the Constitution. Article VI also states: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…."
The purposes of the Constitution are stated in what we commonly refer to as the preamble:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Certainly, the practice and principles of abortion on demand violate several of the se stated purposes; obviously abortion on demand does not establish Justice; the deliberate killing of innocent human beings is a major violation of Justice. Neither does abortion on demand insure domestic Tranquility, for its practice rips families apart and harms communities; neither can abortion on demand provide for the common defense nor promote the general Welfare, for it puts the general class of unborn human beings at risk for their lives. The practice of abortion on demand certainly opposes the securing of the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and especially to our Posterity.
Furthermore, the Fifth Amendment affirms that “No person shall … be deprived of life … without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment likewise asserts, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
The Ninth Amendment states: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The Tenth Amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
At the conclusion of Article VII the Constitution states it was "done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth”; in so stating, the signers of the Constitution acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the founding of the United States of America with the Declaration of Independence. The original Constitution was in concert with the principles stated in that founding document, which acknowledged "the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Therefore, the Supreme Court was wrong in the Roe v. Wade opinions, going against the plain text and and meaning and stated purposes and principles of the Constitution, and the Justices who voted for it should have been subject to discipline. "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour” (Article III, Section 1).
Justice Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Court in Roe v. Wade. In his first paragraph he acknowledged, "The Texas statutes under attack here are typical of those that have been in effect in many States for approximately a century.” At best the Court took lightly the provision of the Tenth Amendment, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Justice Blackmun acknowledged at the beginning of Section VIII of the Opinion, "The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.” However, the Court argued for the right to privacy as applying to allowing a pregnant woman under certain conditions to terminate her pregnancy (that is kill her child), even citing the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment. Under Section IX. A. Justice Blackmun acknowledged: "The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person' within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, [p157] for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument.” The Court chose to disregard the unborn child as a person, even though unborn children had been regarded as persons having rights for some time. For instance, Justice Blackmun acknowledged that "unborn children have been recognized as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, and have been represented by guardians ad litem” (Section IX. B.). The majority of the Justices also promoted a vague "right to privacy” unstated in the Constitution to take precedence over the inalienable right to life.
In recent developments in Florida, Markeith Loyd was arrested. in the process of his being eventually apprehended he murdered a police officer and another died in trying to help with his arrest. Markeith Loyd was charged with the murder of his pregnant girlfriend and with the murder of her unborn child. If this woman had stated that she did not want the child, even before witnesses that could testify, would that child suddenly lose its status as person, and would Markeith Loyd be free from the charge of the murder of the child? I think not.
Under Section VII, Justice Blackmun stated, "Three reasons have been advanced to explain historically the enactment of criminal abortion laws in the 19th century and to justify their continued existence.
The third reason is the State's interest -- some phrase it in terms of duty -- in protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception. [n45] The State's interest and general obligation to protect life then extends, it is argued, to prenatal life. Only when the life of the pregnant mother herself is at stake, balanced against the life she carries within her, should the interest of the embryo or fetus not prevail. Logically, of course, a legitimate state interest in this area need not stand or fall on acceptance of the belief that life begins at conception or at some other point prior to live birth. In assessing the State's interest, recognition may be given to the less rigid claim that as long as at least potential life is involved, the State may assert interests beyond the protection of the pregnant woman alone.
I do not think that the statement, "Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception,” implying as it does a doubt as to the existence of human life from conception could really find any real or realistic reason or evidence at the time of the decision. There is certainly no doubt now that from the moment of fertilization there is life and that life is human.
We the people should insist that all our officials, including judges, abide by and support the Constitution. Remember, in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, with regard to Creator-endowed "unalienable rights," “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”
I am not a lawyer, but I am a citizen, and I think that as citizens we can and should insist on protections for all innocent human life and adherence to the Constitution as written.
Please see America’s Party Leadership Pledge: http://www.selfgovernment.us/leadership-pledge.html
Why call Roe v Wade a law?
You say: "until Roe v. Wade is overturned for the bad law it is and we see an end to the greatest injustice of our time." Why do you call this unjust and bad opinion law? As new nominee for the Supreme Court said Neil Gorsuch, "It is the role of Congress, not the courts, to write new laws." When you refer to a court decision as a law or the Roe v Wade opinion as legalizing abortion you give undue ground to the enemies of (protecting) innocent human life, and to the false concept and ideology of judicial supremacism. The Supreme Court has no authority to amend the Constitution, and the Constitution has given n authority to the Supreme Court or other courts to make or enact laws.