Youthful Faces of a Culture of Life

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Yesterday the House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that’s passed the House a few times now, seeking to make the Hyde Amendment permanent.

Listening to some of the worn “war on women” accusations from those opposed during the afternoon debate frankly felt colder than the air outside the Supreme Court last week.

Congresswoman after congresswoman spoke about human rights in the most personal terms. North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows spoke a little hesitantly at first – abortion is clearly not the issue that got him into politics – but movingly talked about his own child’s birth. Meanwhile the Democratic side of the aisle insisted that this was an “assault” on women’s rights (one Democratic congresswoman insisted it was a male-led attack, seemingly missing all her sisters on the other side of the aisle), as they do. Did Cathy McMorris Rodgers look like she was a pawn in a war on women last night? Or is she a mother trying to be a good steward of her country’s future, galvanized by the delicate humanity of her own children, including Cole, her son with Down Syndrome.

A week ago today, tens of thousands marched on Washington once again, to mark the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, now 41 years ago. (I talked about the March and the reality with New York’s Cardinal Dolan, March president Jeanne Monahan, and Frank Beckwith of Baylor, among others, all published last week.)

One of the reasons it drives me crazy that the media ran with segments on a “war on women” that isn’t being waged by week’s end is the fact that this could and should be a renewing time, a time of actual progress. We can do better than the rule of Roe, and youth are certainly on fire to do something different. I spoke at the Students for Life of America convention last weekend and you would have thought you were at a rock concert — held at a mega Baptist church in Maryland, it had over 2,100 students even in the snow, even though it was loctated outside of D.C. proper and not all that easy to get to. 

Addressing the rally before the March, my friend Patrick Kelly, of the Knights of Columbus and the March for Life, said: “You are the new faces of the culture of life.”

As with every year, these high-school and college students were enthusiastic, truly celebrating life.  

These are kids who feel a responsibility. They see not only the cruel, unnecessary evil of abortion, but they see the pain of women and men, often desperate or afraid, in need of support, and like Eleanor McCullen, the women in the Massachusetts buffer-zone case before the Supreme Court, they want to do something to help. They don’t just want to win a political debate for the sake of winning what they know to be right; they want abortion to be unthinkable. They do things like get baby-changing stations in campus bathrooms because they want to help mothers who need support.

The courageous women who have had children who were conceived in rape – and their children themselves — have the power to change the world. Through their own testimony and through the testimony of their children. They are not hard cases. They are people. Right in front of you, looking you in the eye, breaking down talking points and political platforms. 

I wrote about these women I ran into in my syndicated column this week

The entire Franciscan University of Steubenville was at the March for Life. I’m on an advisory board of their leadership program and could not have been more grateful to have that small association yesterday. So many dedicated, deeply spiritual young people, who understand civic responsibility.

Pope Francis, by the way, is beloved by these young people. They are listening to him and know they have work to do in helping people see more than what Rolling Stone sees!  

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some of these photos from what I saw at the 2014 March for Life, but here is recap of some of it:

Can you feel the cold?





The Catholic cardinal of D.C. welcomed other religious leaders:

I’m thinking she might abolish abortion:


Take a look at some of the faces of the self-described “Pro-Life Generation” (Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America talks more about that here):




They came in thanksgiving:


Snapshots of the crowds along the route:


At a number of points, I wished I were taller:


Families were there:



They made their presence known outside the Court: 


They came from Florida:


And from my alma mater, the Catholic University of America: 


And from St. Louis:


And they came from Chicago:


And from Indiana:

And from Pennsylvania:


They came from Michigan:


And from New Orleans:


And from North Dakota:


They came from Oklahoma:


And from Ohio:


And from New York:


And from Tennessee:


And from Texas:


And from George Washington University:


And from Human Life Review in New York (much to Governor Cuomo’s disappointment, the New Yorkers went back home after the March):


They stand for life:

See the World Youth Alliance video here.

They have messages they came to deliver:


Adoption was the theme of the March this year:

They are ecumenical:


They are public servants:


They serve God by making room for life:


Mother Teresa is an inspiration:


As is Pope Francis:

They gather in prayer (28,000 at the Verizon Center the morning of the march and another 6,000 at the D.C. Armory; 10,000 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Catholic University the night before):


They welcome:


They see humanity:


I believe her:

Carol, a New England high-school student of a Catholic Voices USA friend of mine summed up the attitude of so many people marching for life last week: 

Being pro-life is not just about babies, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about seeking out the people who are ostracized, people who are suicidal, victims of the death penalty — showing them that there is love and support and that this life is worth living.

That, as it happens, is Pope Francis’s point. Go out to all the vulnerable and love. And of course, that means never leaving the unborn and their mothers to death.

Or as this sign says:

America, what have we been doing for 41 years?

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