The 2020 Chicago March for Life: Is Social Activism Beneficial?

Pro-lifers gathered at a rally at the Daley Plaza before marching

Over the weekend, an estimated 9,000 right-to-life supporters gathered in Chicago to march on behalf of the unborn and mark the anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade. Marchers came from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa to participate in the largest Midwest pro-life gathering. Wisconsin Right to Life sponsored two busloads of members to join the ranks.

Pro-lifers attended an outdoor rally in less-than-ideal weather conditions to hear from a wide variety of pro-life speakers. President of the Chicago March for Life Dawn Fitzpatrick, Cardinal Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Dr. Karen Deighan, Congressman Lipinksi (D – IL), and abortion survivor Claire Culwell all shared personal testimonies pointing to this year’s theme: Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.

After a rousing chant led by Dr. Pat Castle of Life Runners, marchers embarked on a half-mile, snowy journey down Michigan Avenue.

As expected, counter-protesters made an appearance at the event. Kept separated by the Chicago Police Department, about 100 pro-abortion advocates stood on a corner near the rally with signs reading “TRUMP PENCE OUT NOW” and “my body, my choice.” Their chants and signs did not deter the pro-life crowd marching by, however.

After concluding the rally and march, supporters were invited to a convention, banquet, and dance to end the day.

But what was the point of all this? Was it necessary?

I have always sat firmly in the camp that time can be better spent on engagement and education instead of social activism. This march, however, changed my perspective. Marches for Life are engagement. They are education.

After the event, most major media outlets were reporting that approximately 1,000 people participated in the day’s events. That is a gross underestimate. According to the event coordinators, over 9,000 people attended the march. 9,000 people from all over the city, all over the state, all over the region. 9,000 people from differing religious, socioeconomic, and political backgrounds. The demonstration of this diversity in our unity around life was educational.

Even though media coverage was undoubtedly bias, Chicago was able to see the humanity of pro-life advocates and the engagement of the community. Many cars driving by the rally and march route slowed down to honk, wave, or give a thumbs up. Police officers stationed along the route witnessed a cheerful and appreciative crowd. And maybe, just maybe, a woman considering abortion saw a sign that changed her mind for the better.

The March for Life is not a violent protest or futile activism. It is a unified effort to bring attention to the dignity of human life. By demonstrating to our communities our willingness to stand up for the unborn, empower women to chose life, and promote alternatives to abortion, we build a culture of life and love.

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