What would compel someone to take an eight hour round trip on a bus to spend two hours outside in a Chicago winter to walk only a couple of blocks? The answer: to defend life at every stage in a culture that actively dehumanizes several vulnerable populations and denies the right of life to many. On Sunday, January 15, Ben (my husband) and I joined thousands of other pro-life advocates from around the Midwest in Chicago’s Federal Plaza for the March for Life-Chicago.
The event started with a variety of excellent speakers; there were religious leaders, congressmen, an abortion survivor, a woman who changed her mind about abortion, a student leader, and a co-owner of the Chicago Bears. It was great to hear a variety of perspectives and mentions of the value of life at different stages. The rally began with a prayer. The love of Christ was present in the words of all, whether they spoke about Christ directly or not. Several speakers presented a consistent life ethic. They touched on health care, immigration, assisted suicide, and concern for anyone affected by abortion.
My favorite speaker was Gianna Jessen. She is an abortion survivor who is both a pro-life advocate and disabilities rights activist. She radiated joy and love for Christ and empowered the people in the crowd. Ms. Jessen also reaffirmed the value of the protestors and told them that they are loved.
I loved looking around at the Plaza seeing the diversity and feeling the energy. There were so many different groups represented there. Families, religious life, and high school and college groups attended. I also encountered organized groups like Pro-life Wisconsin (I was fortunate enough to get a ride to Chicago with them) and Feminists for Life. The March for Life held true to its intent of being peaceful and prayerful. What struck me was everyone there could’ve been justifiably angry. Instead, the rally and march were full of hope, joy, and proclamations of love.
There were protesters across the street from the plaza. Estimates state that there were between 100-200 people protesting March for Life in comparison to the roughly 6,000 marchers. I want to add a disclaimer here: I recognize that these people are by no means representative of the pro-choice movement. I simply want to recount my experience and perceptions. Though they were protesting “anti-choice” people and the “March of Lies,” a number of them were holding signs that were condemning Trump, and there were some LGBTQ+ flags. To me, it seemed like there was a lack of awareness that not all pro-life advocates are Trump supporters and that pro-life advocates have a variety of political views.
The protesters were angry and there were quite a few signs with vulgar language. It seemed like rather than trying to actually make a difference, they were just there attempting to rile us up. I say this because they used rude language, shouted at us, and attacked certain religious beliefs. Though (from my perception) they closed themselves off to any conversation, I do hope they heard the speakers who addressed several of their concerns and misconceptions. More importantly, I hope they heard that they are loved, valued, and never beyond redemption.
It was an incredibly powerful experience to march with thousands of other pro-lifers through the streets of Chicago. Hearing the songs, the cheers, the exclamations of hope, was so empowering. Though it was a long day, it was absolutely worth it to march with so many wonderful people standing for the rights of the unborn while also reaffirming the value of every human life.