No Shades of Gray
A life of dedication to life.

Nellie Gray in 2009


One of the most striking elements of the annual March for Life is the crowds of young people. Well, that and the fact that the marchers persist even when it’s sub-zero weather, or sleeting rain, or blowing snow — marchers have endured all of these during the annual commemoration on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Both of these factors represent a tribute to March for Life founder, Nellie Gray. The founding generation may have aged, but Nellie still communicated her commitment and passion for defending life to a new generation. While feminists wonder why young women increasingly don’t want to identify themselves with “feminism,” every year that Nellie marched up Constitution Avenue, past the Capitol, to stand in protest in front of the Supreme Court, she was surrounded by eager young faces, chanting and singing and eager to proclaim themselves pro-life. So much so that they were willing to come and march even in the worst conditions.

While some of us (not me, of course!) might have voted for marching in balmy breezes, Nellie rallied the movement around the importance of the January 22 anniversary. And her presence on that stage represented another indictment of the feminist movement. While the self-styled defenders of women’s rights were proclaiming the centrality of abortion to female empowerment, Nellie walked away from a legal career following military service in WWII, to actively defend the most defenseless. That’s what real feminine power looks like.

— Charmaine Yoest is president and CEO of Americans United for Life.