Two unexpected things happened at the 47th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. this year. These developments might well change the nature of the whole debate.
Those of us who regularly attend the March for Life seldom find the unexpected. Quite the contrary, we expect our hundreds of thousands of marchers to be ignored by major media. We expect to be insulted by liberals everywhere. We expect unfilled promises from faithless politicians. All these things have not changed the debate these 47 years but only served to increase our resolve.
However, on January 24, 2020, the unexpected did happen. Some of our prayers were answered, which should give us much hope.
A President Speaks
Of course, the most unexpected event at the March was the personal appearance of President Donald Trump. He is the first sitting president to join pro-lifers in the 47 years that we have marched to the Supreme Court.
Past presidents have avoided participating in the March. Even conservative ones have managed to be out of town. However, this was the first time the country’s President has come on stage.
This appearance signals that the fight against procured abortion has taken on pre-eminent importance in the United States. It is mainstream.
Without question, the President’s address sent a message to the pro-life movement in America to continue the fight. However, it also encouraged all those who defend life worldwide. Everyone saw the leader of the world’s most powerful nation defend life.
The myth that abortion is “settled law” was shaken to its core by the President’s appearance.
“Made in the Holy Image of Almighty God”
The second unexpected thing at the March for Life was President Trump’s framing of the debate. Pro-abortion advocates have long sought to frame the abortion issue as a matter of women’s “reproductive rights,” health and choice.
They have avoided at all costs the discussion of abortion’s moral and religious dimensions.
The President would already have been a success if he had limited himself to defending innocent human life. However, he went far beyond this. He mentioned the baby’s immortal soul, adding that “every human life—born and unborn—is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”
He further declared that “Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God.” He acknowledged God as Creator when he said that “When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation.”
In making these statements, the President recognized the inherently religious, moral, and Christian character of the abortion debate.
Taking Control of the Debate
By recognizing the unborn child’s immortal soul, we frame the debate as a religious issue. We affirm that procured abortion is an attack on the holy image of Almighty God, as seen in the unborn child.
Thus, there is a battle taking place between those of God and those opposing God’s creation. There can be no compromise with this Culture of Death that desires the annihilation of the innocent unborn—precisely because each human being is a unique reflection of God’s divine perfections.
As much as some might try to frame the issue otherwise, this religious and Christian perspective is the one that most resonates with those Americans who fight and march for life. Religious symbols, statues and messages are found on the banners and signs of those who march. Hymns, rosaries and prayers are on the lips of many who protest. We march for life and babies, but above all for God.
God Must Be at the Center of the Debate
That is why the abortion fight is so important. By standing firm in our conviction about procured abortion, we keep God and His Law in the center of the national debate. This is changing the cultural and political landscape. Indeed, even the President speaks about it.
When we put God in the center of the debate, unexpected things happen. We can expect more.