March for Life
January 21st, 2014
02:24 PM ET

Six surprising changes to the anti-abortion March for Life

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - For decades, the March for Life has followed a familiar formula: Bus in thousands of abortion opponents. Protest in front of the Supreme Court. Go home.

But this year, in addition to braving snow and bone-chilling wind, the March will move in a different direction, says Jeanne Monahan, president of the anti-abortion group.

Long-winded political speeches? See ya.

An exclusive focus on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that lifted restrictions on abortion? Gone.

A hipster Catholic musician, evangelical leaders and March for Life app? Welcome to the protest.

And those changes just skim the surface.

The March for Life, billed as the world’s largest anti-abortion event, is remaking itself in deeper ways as well, says Monahan.

For its first 40 years, the march was marshaled by Nellie Gray, an occasionally irascible Catholic who had little use for modern technology, political compromise or the mainstream media.

Gray died in her home office in 2012 at age 88. A short time later, Monahan was named her successor at the March for Life.

While abortion opponents praise Gray’s legacy, there’s a popular saying around the March for Life’s Washington headquarters: “We’re a brand-new, 41-year-old organization.”

The goal: to turn their annual, one-day demonstration into a potent political machine.

Abortion rights advocates say they’re skeptical that March for Life leaders can convince more Americans to join their cause. Since 1989, the percentage who want to overturn Roe has barely budged above 30%.

“It’s an impressive show,” Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, says of the March for Life. “But at the end of the day, they have failed dramatically at their goal.”

Still, even O’Brien expressed respect for his foes’ new plans. “It’s pretty clever, actually.”

With that in mind, here are six big ways the March for Life is changing this year:

1) 9 to 5

Since 1974, the March for Life has made a really loud noise every January 22, the anniversary of Roe. V. Wade.

Estimates of the crowd’s size vary, but it seems safe to say tens of thousands have attended the protest each year.

Organizers estimate that at least 50% of the marchers are under 18, as busloads of Catholic school kids descend on the capital from across the country.

But some abortion opponents complain the March for Life had morphed in recent years from a political demonstration to a photo op.

Ryan Bomberger, an anti-abortion activist who is speaking at march events, says the protest needs to find ways to harness its youthful energy throughout the year.

“You’ve got all these young people with energy and passion and the desire to do something about the injustice of abortion. But what do they do when they leave the march and go home?”

March for Life leaders want to turn its young protesters into citizen lobbyists, much like Tea Party partisans and the Obama campaign did with their troops.

The key to that, says March for Life's Chairman of the Board Patrick Kelly, is to keep them engaged throughout the year, including through social media. (More on that later.)

In addition to Monahan, an experienced Washington politico, the March for Life has beefed up its Washington office by hiring a full-time lobbyist and social media manager who will also lead outreach to evangelicals, a big and politically active constituency.

The focus this year will be combating the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which requires most companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees. Abortion opponents say that some covered services are tantamount to abortion.

2) If You’ve Got the Money, We've Got the Time

For decades, the March for Life subsisted on a meager budget: Just $150,000 a year, according to tax filings from 2009-2011.

But new Washington offices, lobbyists and social media managers don’t come cheap. Fortunately for the March for Life, a donor who was a friend of Gray’s bequeathed $550,000 to the organization last year.

That, along with a more robust fund-raising campaign, has allowed the March to increase its budget from $252,000 when Monahan took over in 2012,  to $780,000 this year.

“We are professionalizing the March for Life,” said Kelly.

3) With Arms Wide Open 

Though various religious groups oppose abortion (many support abortion rights as well) the March for Life has come to be considered mainly a Catholic event.

Catholic clergy offer prayers, Catholic politicians make speeches and Catholic school kids fill out the rank-and-file.

Monahan says this year will different.

The March for Life has hired a full-time staffer devoted to bringing more Protestant evangelicals to the protest, and they hope to see that effort bear fruit this Wednesday.

They’ve tapped James Dobson, founder of the evangelical powerhouse ministry Focus on the Family, as a keynote speaker. Dobson and his adopted son, Ryan, will talk about adoption, an issue close to the heart of many evangelicals.

4) The Hardest Part

For the first time in its 41 years, the March for Life will focus on an issue besides abortion on Wednesday.

Through Dobson and other speakers, the march is also promoting the idea of “noble adoption” as an alternative to abortion.

“Adoption is a heroic decision for pregnant mothers who find themselves in a difficult situation,” says Monahan. “We want to eliminate the stigma of adoption and encourage women to pursue this noble option.”

The spotlight on adoption dovetails with new focus within the anti-abortion movement on crisis pregnancy centers, which urge women to carry their pregnancy to term.

Critics charge that the centers divulge false medical information about abortion and deceive unwitting patients into thinking they provide abortions, only to advise them otherwise. Supporters say they help women through financial assistance, counseling and adoption referrals.

5) Wish You Were Here

Despite the youth of many March for Life participants, the group’s website had been decidedly Web 1.0.

Under Monahan, that has changed dramatically.

The group posts Instagram pics of chilly protesters trudging through snow at past marches on Throwback Thursdays. They upload posts about prenatal development to Pinterest and tweet throughout the year, including this one about the difficult choices pregnant women sometimes face.

For the more technically advanced, the March has developed an app that connects to a 360-degree camera so folks can follow the protest from home. The app also has anti-abortion information, links to articles about adoption and tips for lobbying Congress.

“We have to find a way to take those boots on the ground and talk to them throughout the year,” says Kelly. “And with Facebook and Twitter and other social media we have the tools to do so.”

The March is also hoping for a high-profile social media endorsement on Wednesday: Monahan says she’s asked the Vatican to send a tweet from the Pope in support of the March for Life.

UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, Monahan got her papal tweet.

6) Yakety Yak

Imagine listening to politicians drone on for hours about their voting records in the chilly January air.

Fun, right?

Monahan didn’t think so either, so she’s trying to accomplish a minor miracle: limiting the speaking time of politicians at the pre-march rally.

Only a handful of politicians, including House Majority Leader Eric Canton, R-Virginia, and Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Illinois, have been invited to speak. They’ve all been asked to keep their speeches to a just a few minutes.

“In past years our rally has gone on for two or three hours and people lost interest,” Monahan says.

So, instead of boring speeches, the rally this year will feature a live concert by Matt Maher, a Catholic singer-songwriter with a huge following among young Christians.

So, will all this make any difference?

Clearly, changes are afoot this year at the March for Life. But what effect, if any, will they have on the larger anti-abortion movement?

Not much, says Ziad Munson, a sociologist at Lehigh University and author of the book “The Making of Pro-life Activists.”

The March for Life hasn’t really been politically influential since the early 1990s, says Munson. Meanwhile, other abortion opponents, like Catholic bishops and National Right to Life Committee, have led the charge.

“In effect, what we’re seeing is a new organization within a movement, not a new approach,” he says. “I don’t think the March for Life is likely to make inroads that haven’t already been made.”

Monahan is more optimistic.

If the March can recruit even a slice of its youthful protesters into citizen activists, she says, it might be enough to tip the balance in a country deeply divided on the morality of abortion.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Bioethics • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Politics • Women

soundoff (1,983 Responses)
  1. Jeanette Taylor

    We should all be worried about the planet - over-population is the crux of almost every problem – overfishing, taking over habitat, poluted water, poluted air, poluted ground, etc, etc, etc. Think about how the resources are being used and abused... the solution is birth control and, unfortunately, abortion. We have to start thinking of the BIG picture - the planet...

    January 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
    • Sampson

      Birth control is most definitely the answer; odd that these same anti-abortionists are also often anti-birth control.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Alias

    Let's say – just for discussion- Roe V Wade was overturned.
    That would not make abortion illegal. It would leave it up to each stste to regulate in its own way. That would not accomplish very much, as some state would be performing all the abortions.
    Roe V Wade was a compromise. It allowed abortion with restrictions and guidelines. Maybe what the protesters should be doing is to change those restrictions? Or would that require people to abandon their blind emotional stances and think rationally?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Which is why certain GOP-controlled states are introducing artificial barriers, such as the clinic must have admissions privileges at nearby hospitals.

      January 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    when does life begin?
    this short film should clear it up:


    January 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      This video actually misses my favorite bit at the end with the Protestant couple.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
      • Nexus974

        A classic skit!

        January 22, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Honey Badger Don't Care

    The xtian god of the bible condones slavery. I don’t know why these people are protesting. Guess they're not "real" xtians.

    January 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Phil Ward

    Life is precious defend it!

    Babies to grannies life is worth living and defending.

    January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You're absolutely right, and that is an evolutionary trait. Not Iron Age myth.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
    • Econ301

      Do you use hand soap?

      If so you are killing single celled organisms for your own convenience. Perhaps you should practice what you preach about defending precious life.

      Or is all life not equal in your eyes? If so then you've allowed for a distinction which some people could use to justify abortion (after all not all life is equal....)

      January 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
  6. B

    Women have a right to create life and take it away. It's our choice. Most of these abortion choices, are because of some sort of hardship. Why aren't we following gendercide in Asia and India? Killing a baby before or shortly after birth simply because it is a girl, and not a boy, which they believe brings wealth and prosperity to the family. What about those babies?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • Pick and Choose?

      You seem to have a problem with killing a baby because of its gender – but you consider it your "Right" to kill a baby because of personal convenience? And the Catholics are the hypocrites??? REALLY???

      January 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Alias

        B just knows the difference between a small group of cells and a human being.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

        Look up the definition of baby.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • Observer

        Pick and Choose?

        You seem to have trouble figuring out the difference between a breathing, live-in-the-outside-world BABY and a developing embryo that floats in a liquid.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • Logic.

      “Women have a right to create life and take it away. It's our choice.”

      Listen to what you are saying! Do you honestly believe a mother should be able to murder her toddler because he's too much of a burden? Babies/toddlers are arguably FAR MORE of a burden than a fetus, and yet we use that as an excuse to kill them while making child abuse illegal.

      January 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    If expelling a blastocyst is the same as infanticide, then digging up an acorn is the same as felling an oak tree and squirrels are the world's greatest lumberjacks

    January 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
    • Bootyfunk


      January 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      THIS is the world's greatest lumberjack.


      January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • Mr. Richard Feder

      I am Pro Squirrell Abortion, and I vote.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin


        January 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • GeneticsLesson

      Doc, I love your lack of intelligence. First, you dumb down human life to plant life and then you make some correlation between the natural world (eating/foraging) and the killing of defenseless children. Oh, and don't give me that nonsense that it is not human..From the time that the two cells joined together, the map was drawn. The resulting genetic material was not destined to be no less than human. Sure, as it passed through development it may take on the appearance of simple cellular organisms, even at one point fish-like, but map its genetic code from day one and you have a human, not an acorn, or even a squirrel. And to say it is somehow not alive at some stage i to say that the very organisms you folks try to compare it to are not alive..How much more simple do we have to make it?

      January 22, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Who are you to declard one form of life as more important than another?

        A Candid Conversation between Two Species

        The Man: I am the predilect object of Creation, the centre of all that exists…
        The Tapeworm: You are exalting yourself a little. If you consider yourself the lord of Creation, what can I be, who feed upon you and am ruler in your entrails?
        The Man: You lack reason and an immortal soul.
        The Tapeworm: And since it is an established fact that the concentration and complexity of the nervous system appear in the animal scale as an uninterrupted series of graduations, where are we cut off? How many neurons must be possessed in order to have a soul and a little rationality?
        – Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Recollections of My Life

        January 22, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
        • GeneticsLesson

          Doc, You make some of the most ignorant statements. I am human. You are human. We eat what we kill, be it plant or animal. That is nature. Sorry, I can't talk to tapeworms. Can you at least try to make some sense?

          January 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Dilapidated Emu

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Apparently when we say we believe all men are created equal, we really mean all men are born equal. Up until then, you don't have a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. So much for unalienable rights. The type of arguments that are used to justify abortion are very similar to the arguments used to justify the slavery of the African people. After all, they aren't really "people". I've seen them compared to parasites, even chickens in this very comments section. You know, black people were once referred to as monkeys to help with their dehumanization.

    What we are talking about is basic human rights trumping individual women rights to... what? Commit murder? Of course, to do that, we have to say the human fetus is in fact not human and therefore it is neither murder nor is the fetus protected by human rights.

    Honestly, I'm just blowing smoke at this point. The only people interested enough in this issue to read the comments are so polarized that they will either agree with me or be vehemently exposed and even the most logical argument would not sway either side. That isn't to claim that my argument is the most logical, nor even remotely more logical than other arguments here. I am just trying to point out that both sides are equally close minded and that we have all wasted our time posting these comments.

    January 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      "I'm just blowing smoke at this point."

      You don't say?

      January 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
    • Alias

      Opinions formed on emotion rather than reason are not likely to be changed by an argument based on reason or logic.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
  9. Greybeard

    Why does everybody link pro-choice to pro-abortion? They are not the same. I believe it's the woman's right to choose for herself. If she chooses adoption, great. If not, I still stand by her because it was her choice. Nobody is for abortion, they are for a woman's right to choose. Why don't we put restrictions on men and make vasectomies illegal. Why isn't this a topic at the march?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
    • Econ301

      Because Greybeard the Pro-Life croud realized that if they called there movement what it really was, Anti-Choice, no one would follow them.

      Pro-Choice is not Pro-Abortion, it's exactly what it says, the right to choose.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
    • Mina

      Comparing abortion to a vasectomy is like comparing removing asphalt to shoveling snow off a driveway. I'd respect the analogy a lot more if you compared vasectomy to tying the tubes, or maybe the extreme of hysterectomy. But this is a human life people are arguing about. There's no other way to incubate a human life than in a mother's womb. If a toddler trespassed your house, do you have the right to "choose" kick the toddler out? Pro-choice leaves the possibility for pro-murder or pro-negligence in the minds of pro-lifers. I have never seen any pro-choicer that seriously engages with this argument. Nothing but ignorance that puts the choice of an individual over the endangerment of the life of a human being.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        "I have never seen any pro-choicer that seriously engages with this argument. Nothing but ignorance that puts the choice of an individual over the endangerment of the life of a human being."
        +++ then you haven't done any real searching and are staying purposely ignorant. even just reading these blogs you can see the other side of that argument.

        it would go like this...
        when someone gets pregnant, they have the potential for a human being, but not a human being yet. much more development of the fetus needs to happen first.

        hard concept to grasp?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • Mina

          Alas stupidity is not far from your argument. "Potential to human life" opens the door to infanticide. You have to concede that within the womb, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. I'm not saying a bunch of cells are the same as a fetus. But I am saying, somewhere down the line, it becomes very clear there's something wrong about aborting that, unless of course, the mother's life is in danger.

          January 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
      • Econ301

        Mina you've already set a bar though, at fetuses being equal to human beings.

        Some disagree with you, in the earliest stages of human life the human being created is nothing more then cells replicating themselves. In a way they are no different from bacteria except that because the DNA is slightly different the cells will eventually form a human...

        I don't see this as human life but more the potential for human life.

        For abortion to be murder it would have to be classified as unlawful. (After all Capital Punishment isn't murder, it is killing, but it's legal, and thus not murder)

        Also is it not more negligent to make someone who doesn't feel like they are capable of raise a child raise a child? People who want children don't have abortions. The only conclusion then is that people who would choose to have an abortion don't want or don't view themselves as capable of raising children.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • Mina

          The argument based on jurisprudence doesn't make something right or wrong, but just makes something legal or illegal. If infanticide has been defined as legal based on the fact that it's "merely" a potential to life, does that make it "not murderous"? You and I define "murder" differently in this context. And personally, I'm not too fond of arguments based on semantics. Get at the real issue here. Don't beat around the bush. At some point, the embryo starts looking like a fetus, which starts to look like an infant. There's some point inside the womb that doesn't seem right to allow a "mere choice" for someone to kill.

          January 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
      • redzoa

        " If a toddler trespassed your house, do you have the right to "choose" kick the toddler out?"

        Actually, yes you do. Most folks would likely try and find the toddler's parents or call the police, but the fact remains that no one is legally obligated to allow another individual onto their property (excluding of course, police, fire/EMTs, utility workers, etc). I actually like this analogy, but I would take it one step further . . .

        Should the government be allowed to force individuals to donate blood, tissue or organs to save the lives of others? Most pro-lifers would object to this because they recognize that personal bodily autonomy is an inalienable right. That is, we are not legally or morally obligated to use our own bodies to directly sustain the life of another and the government has no business attempting to make this decision for us.

        "But this is a human life people are arguing about. There's no other way to incubate a human life than in a mother's womb."

        The individuals who will inevitably die absent blood, tissue, and organ transplants are also human life. In many cases, there is no other way to sustain their lives without the transfusion/transplant. But again, most pro-lifers would object to government-mandated blood, tissue, and organ donation. Reasonable people can disagree about when life begins and what value should be given to any particular developmental stage; however, I offer most agree (including pro-lifers) that the government should not have the power to mandate the donation of part or all of our bodies to directly sustain the life of another.

        January 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • Mina

          Here again is the crux of the problem of this line of argument. A toddler enters your house. You call the police and fire department. But you don't kick out the toddler and let it crawl along. That is cruel and murderous. Abortion is not giving birth to a live child and hope that adoption takes it, but abortion is precisely killing a fetus. I don't see how that can compare to your analogy of "calling the police". Adoption agencies are ready to take an unwanted child. There are even many agencies that are able to help pay and "hide" the pregnancy of anyone who chooses not to abort, but cannot keep the child.

          January 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
        • redzoa

          @Mina – You didn't even attempt to respond to the government-mandated tissue donation argument. The real difference in your analogy is that a toddler does not require the direct use of the homeowner's body to sustain it's life. I certainly agree it would be immoral to simply expel the toddler without making some attempt to find the parents/call the police. But let's return to the underlying issue: Should the government be allowed to force the homeowner to keep and maintain the child beyond the time it takes for the parents/police to respond? Better yet, you could skip the toddler analogy and just directly respond to the government-mandated tissue/organ donation question . . .

          January 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Mina

          The fundamental problem with your analogy is that you have doctors who try their best to help the patient, even with other less likely options to keep the patient alive. Furthermore, if you want to talk about organ donation, there's a wait list. There's a blood bank available as well. All of these issues make it actually a moot point to consider whether or not we should force citizens to give away blood or organs. The issue does not come out of desperation as you see with a fetus in a womb, which has no wait time, no other measures for doctors to try their best to save the life of an "abortee", no other options for the fetus to live, etc. The analogy is grossly invalid and misses the point. I'd venture to say that if we lived in a nation of a few hundred people, where there's a desperate need for blood donation, and no one is willing to give, then reality has it that government will step in and will force people to give up some blood. It's like a whole nation watching a man die. Our collective conscience CAN afford to choose not to donate because someone else will. The situation is not the same for a fetus.

          January 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • redzoa


          “All of these issues make it actually a moot point to consider whether or not we should force citizens to give away blood or organs.”

          First, doctors and technology cannot continually preserve the life of certain individuals requiring certain transplants. Second, the wait list is there because there are insufficient donors to meet the demand. Third, there is a specific question of tissue compatibility that strictly limits the available donors and so while blood banks may meet the demand, the demand for compatible tissues/organs remains far above the supply. People are dying because they cannot receive compatible tissues/organs.

          “The issue does not come out of desperation as you see with a fetus in a womb, which has no wait time, no other measures for doctors to try their best to save the life of an "abortee", no other options for the fetus to live, etc.”

          There is clear desperation for those who will and who are dying absent tissue/organ donations and there are no other options for them to live.

          “The analogy is grossly invalid and misses the point. I'd venture to say that if we lived in a nation of a few hundred people, where there's a desperate need for blood donation, and no one is willing to give, then reality has it that government will step in and will force people to give up some blood.”

          You focus on blood donation, and to a certain point, I agree that the government intrusion in forcing blood donation would be acceptable in light of extreme need. But you didn’t extend this to more invasive tissue/organ donation. Does your position hold that the government should be able to force tissue/organ donation?

          “Our collective conscience CAN afford to choose not to donate because someone else will. The situation is not the same for a fetus.”

          This is clearly not the case given the wait list you’ve already identified, i.e. the demand is greater than the supply, others are not freely stepping forward to donate compatible tissue/organs to save all those who will invariably die absent the donation.
          So, I’ll concede your argument regarding blood donation; however, is it your position that the government should be allowed to mandate tissue/organ donations? If yes, then fine (although I’ve yet to hear a pro-lifer actually move to implement this policy). If not, then why? Why shouldn't the government be allowed to force you to donate your kidney or a chunk of liver or any other body part to save the life of another person?

          January 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • Mina

          A couple of points before I address your arguments. I'm not your typical pro-lifer. A problem with these arguments I see is that everyone treats is as black or white. An arbitrary line is drawn at the moment of fertilization on one side and an arbitrary line is drawn at the moment of birth on the earth. I sympathize more with the pro-life movement yes, and there's no question about my religious background having some influence on this. But I also am not bereft of sympathy for the pro-choice movement as well, but I tend to try to see an ethical, realistic side, rather than deal with hypotheticals that we get into in our philosophy classes. Moreover, I have a strong science background. I see many pro-lifers who tote the Bible around as if it's unarguable, not knowing they are dealing with people who have a different religious background. Therefore, "your pro-lifers" comment is an unfair appellation and over-generalization. With that said, I do appreciate how you are willing to argue with a good empathetic approach and intelligence, something that I usually do not get from emotionally charged pro-choicers.

          I think I was not clear on the "waiting list" comment I made, since I also mentioned there's no "wait list for a fetus". The point is the way we treat humanity in general in the medical field. While an organ is not available, I will try all my best to keep this patient alive until an organ is available. And if the technology isn't there, you bet there will be research with the GOAL in mind to keep patients alive long enough and comfortable enough until one is able to get the organ needed. The issue again is that there is no dire desperation even in the field of organ donation. Blood donation is quite easy to get, not like decades ago. Organ donation is difficult, yes, but not in the realm of impossibility. Doctors have found ways for every organ situation to try to keep the patient living longer. One example is kidneys. A patient can live for a decade with dialysis until a kidney is made available. We're not experimenting with mechanical hearts. We have medications that can help replace a pancreas for the time being. A doctor does anything and everything in his/her power to keep the patient alive and comfortable as is feasible until the treatment becomes available, and if the treatment is scarce, researchers will work tooth and nail to try to open up more options for treatments, and doctors will still try their best to keep a patient alive no matter how improbable that may be.

          A fetus is not treated the same way. If a choice for a fetus is to be aborted, the goal is not to try our best to keep the fetus alive, no matter how improbable it may be. There's no research to create advanced incubators for a 10-week old embryo or even a 20-week old. There's no research on trying to save a fetus' life. When abortion is chosen, the goal is to kill the fetus, not to save it, no matter how hard it is to save it. If the mother chooses to keep the baby however, the goal for an ob/gyn would be life, and paradoxically, in some instances, jurisprudence will even treat the case of a pregnant woman being killed as "double murder". A surgeon will try to fix a fetus' spina bifida in order for the baby to be born in good health. So there's a paradoxical treatment to the fetus based on the mother's choice, which to me shows a split personality of the medical community on how to treat this fetus.

          This is why organ donation and abortion is not the same analogy. Realistically, a patient is treated much much much differently in the field of medicine and research than a fetus. However, again (and unfortunately, I'll concede to a hypothetical situation to leave no stone unturned and to show my consistency), if in fact, you have a small government community of a hundred people, where one patient is on life support and can be saved with a heart transplant and another patient is dead but the heart is fine, then I see no problem with the government enforcing a transplantation to drive away greed. The situation in real life is not that drastic though, and the "wait time" argument I am using suggests that we do everything in our power to have a goal to save a patient, and that hopefully, the wait time will expire in a manner that the organ will become available. Is there an incubator or a wait time available for a living underdeveloped fetus? Is there research that tries to achieve that goal? Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but I hope that shows clarity in my previous argument.

          January 22, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Mina

          typo: I meant to say "other", not "earth"

          January 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • Mina

          another typo: we are NOW experimenting on mechanical hearts

          January 22, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • redzoa

          @Mina – I appreciate your thoughtful response and my apologies for any over generalization with respect to "pro-lifers"; however, I am unaware of any effort by the pro-life community to implement government-mandated tissue/organ donation nor am I aware of any concerted effort to fund/lobby for research into synthetic embryonic/fetal incubators. I agree there is insufficient funding/research in this area and if the technology ever arose to sustain an embryo/fetus, then I would certainly oppose abortion if there were such an alternative (and it was reasonably and practicably available). Still, despite the best efforts of researchers and medical professionals, for many in need of tissue/organ transplants, they will die absent a donation. It's at this point that the analogy becomes relevant because in both cases, the one who will die becomes wholly dependent on the donation of another person's tissue/organ. The question for both scenarios then becomes should the government step in and require a compatible donor share their tissue/organs against their will? My point is that all of those whom I've asked indicate that the government should step in for embryos/fetuses, but not for those requiring transplants; yet they offer no meaningful distinction. With all due respect, you've spent a of space discussing effort/technology to save lives, but not to where the proper limit of government power should be.

          The relative investments in saving embryos/fetuses v. those requiring tissue/organ donations aside, I would offer that you have still not addressed the primary issue which is whether one person should be forced by the government to use their body to directly sustain the life of another person. Even in your small community statement, you limit the donee to one who has already died. This suggests that you recognize an inherent limitation on government-mandated donation of tissue/organs from those who might be unwilling.

          Lastly, (but not to derail the prior discussion), if we are willing to grant the government the power to control when a woman must carry a pregnancy to term (or viability outside the womb), why shouldn't the government also have the power to restrict particular women from becoming pregnant? Again, the issue reduces to the proper scope of government power over an individual's body. I believe it's a tragedy when a woman feels she must choose abortion, but IMHO, this tragedy is the lesser evil when compared to allowing a government to make such reproductive choices. Personal bodily autonomy is the most fundamental inalienable right a human can possess and while I respect those who want to save the lives of embryos and fetuses, I draw the line at imposing this desire via government power upon those who are unwilling to donate their bodies to serve as incubators. The point of my analogy is that apparently many pro-life supporters share my view regarding how much authority over their bodies they are willing to grant a government. In other words, supporting the notion that the government should be able to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is inconsistent with the rejection of the same government power to force tissue/organ donations against an individual's will.

          January 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
  10. radar8

    I love it. At least half of the participants are catholic school children that are bussed in. These children are indoctrinated in their religious schools and then used as pawns for these types of marches.
    What's the matter? Don't you have enough adults willing to march for your fake cause?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
    • Alias

      You've gotta win the hearts of the children.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
  11. baby james

    Life and love vs death and guilt. People actually get to decide if their baby lives or dies. If they decide to kill the baby then who wins. The mother is left empty and guilty and a bay has died. Why does a society let a person decide this – nobody wins in abortion. A woman human nature wants to keep and take care of her baby.

    January 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
    • Observer

      baby james

      "Life and love vs death and guilt."

      Nope. Fetuses are often aborted BECAUSE they are not wanted and won't be loved.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • Delilah

        Oh? So why should that right end once it's born?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • Sampson

          You don't get to make another's choices...get it?

          January 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • Observer


          "Oh? So why should that right end once it's born?"

          Because it's been born.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Correction: They may not be loved by the parents (who haven't grown up yet), but they COULD be loved by others.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • Observer


          There are TENS of THOUSANDS of children in orphanages today. You want to add MANY more.

          How many of these children are you going to adopt?

          January 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • Sampson

          Because Live4Him believes only newborns are worthy of being adopted:

          ".. parents wanting to adopt a newborn but are unable to do so because the child was aborted?"

          January 22, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
  12. Jeff from Columbus

    Question for all the "pro-choice" activists: When does life begin in your opinion?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      In my ball-sack. I commit genocide whenever I jerk it.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      not an easy question to answer.
      spearm can be seen as alive, as can an egg.
      my opinion is that when the two meet, there is potential for a human life... but it still has a LONG way to go before that potential is realized.
      perhaps your question should be "when does personhood begin?"

      January 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
      • Jeff from Columbus

        Do you wait and make that distinction when someone you know becomes pregnant and wants to celebrate? If they come to you at 6-8 weeks, do you tell them they only have the potential for life and you'll wait to celebrate before the thing in their womb reaches personhood?

        I'm not trying to be a smart aleck here. But, if you don't and you celebrate with them when they announce their pregnancy, then you're dealing in a double standard.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          no double standard.
          you're being silly.
          when a fetus becomes a "person" is a matter of opinion.
          yes, if a couple says they are 6 weeks pregnant and then asks me for my opinion on the matter, i would say they have the potential for a human but not a fully developed one yet, not one i would call a person.
          how is that hypocritical?
          i can still celebrate with them, celebrate their potential to have a child, that if all goes right (assuming they want to keep it since they are celebrating), then they WILL have a baby - why can't i celebrate that with them?

          January 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Every egg is sacred.
      Life begins at ovulation.
      Women who menstruate should be ashamed of themselves.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
      • Greybeard

        Are you saying the egg is more important than the sperm? Why isn't sperm sacred? Why aren't we screaming at men for getting vasectomies?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • Dave

          EVERY sperm is sacred. EVERY sperm is great. If one sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
      • Claire

        And this, my friends, is what we call willful ignorance. Pretending to not know the difference between an ovum and a zygote, the first of which is haploid (aka, not a human being yet) and the latter which is unique, diploid, and by every scientific definition ALIVE, and left to its natural growth WILL grow into an adult human.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
    • Observer

      Jeff from Columbus,

      Just like everyone else, we don't know for sure. I doubt that many people having abortions feel that there is no life in the embryo or fetus.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
      • Jeff from Columbus

        We know for sure there is life in the womb. As early as 6 weeks, there's a heartbeat that can be heard on an ultrasound.

        Forget religion, forget the Catholic church. Just use simple logic and common sense. How can that not be life? There's a heartbeat but that's not a life?

        That just makes no sense to me.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
        • Observer

          Jeff from Columbus,

          Technically, life begins LONG BEFORE CONCEPTION. If the eggs and sperm hadn't already been alive, there would be no baby.

          So are you advocating that all sperm and eggs be saved?

          January 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • Greybeard

          If you remove the fetus at 6 weeks, will it survive? If not, then it's not alive and the female must be making the heart beat.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          we know that sperm move around by themselves - how is that not life?
          should YOU be sentenced to death every time you mast.urbate for committing murder?

          January 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • Madtown

          I could be in serious trouble.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • mike

      The arguement can go on forever. At conception, at first heart beat, and birth. But the truth is, it doesn't matter WHEN it becomes life....what does matter is that we can't ignore the inevitability that given enough time that it WILL become life. How do we calculate when spring starts? The calendar date? The first warm day? The flowers blooming? The equinox?? its hard to tell...but what we do know, given enough time, all things will come true and it springtime will be here. Understand?

      January 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
      • radar8

        I think that you are looking at it incorrectly.

        Abortion is definitely killing. IT is justified killing. It's no different than innocents dying in a war. The specific justification is different, but both abortion and war are justified killing.
        If you truly are "pro-life", you won't draw the line at fetuses. You'll feel just as strongly about gong to war and the death penalty. Killing in war and for crimes are still killing.

        Ironically, most of these anti-choice marchers support the GOP war platform. Irony at its finest.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
      • Jeff from Columbus

        At 6 weeks, there's a heartbeat
        At 6 weeks, a woman can have an abortion

        But, that isn't murder? That makes no logical sense to me. There's a heartbeat...but its not a life and a "choice" can be made to end its life.

        As to viability, well if you dump a month old baby after childbirth on the streets, it won't last very long on its own either. So, that argument makes no logical sense either

        January 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
        • Observer

          Jeff from Columbus,

          A fetus has life. EVERYONE knows that. It's not news to anyone. The issue is whether a woman should have the right to decide what happens to HER body and the risks she is willing to take.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • Greybeard

          Ok Jeff, obviously nobody is going to change your mind and you're not changing anyone's either. But, to your argument, no a month-old baby on the streets can't survive. However, it can breath on it's own and it's heart will beat on it's own. Now, take a 6-week old fetus and sit it on a table and it will stop breathing (it really doesn't breath because it gets its oxygen from the mother's blood) and the heart will stop as soon as you remove it from the womb. That's the difference between the two.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
        • TSRVT

          Nothing you rightist say makes a lick of sense. I will use simple little words that even you low-info types can understand:

          IT"S NOT UP TO YOU!

          January 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • 17 year old Catholic girl

          @Observer. Why is the right to LIFE less important than the "right" to "your" body? (which, if there is such a right to a body, then the fetus has that right too)

          January 22, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
      • Grumpy Old Man

        Mike: It will not always become life. Many fetus do not survive due to natural causes.

        As for when life begins, I heard a wise Rabbi say "Life begins when the dog dies and the kids go off to college."

        January 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • 17 year old Catholic girl

          By that argument, 100% of people die so it should be acceptable to murder them.

          January 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
    • radar8

      That's not the point. Abortion is killing, not murder. The same people that march against abortion also tend to support wars (more killing) and the death penalty (more killing). So, the bottom line is that the anti-choice people have no problem with killing.

      So these people think that it's OK to kill. IT's just not OK to kill fetuses or microscopic zygotes. It's fine to kill hundreds of thousands of innocents if they happen to live in other countries. Hypocrisy at its finest.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • Grumpy Old Man

        As always timing is everything.

        January 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
      • 17 year old Catholic girl

        Your entire argument falls to pieces the moment someone is also against war and the death penalty, which I am.

        January 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
    • sandalista

      "Before the guy can grab a towel, there is a third person on the room"
      Bill Maher on the religious right.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
    • Greybeard

      Jeff, Why don't anti-abortion supporters try to dictate to men on what they should do with their body? Why aren't they screaming about men getting vasectomies? We should be telling men what they can and can't do with their bodies the same as we do with women.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
      • Jeff from Columbus

        Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. Somewhere along the way, we as a society took men out of the equation when it came to discussions about abortions. I'm not sure how that happened – I'm sure both sides have their theories – but how it happened is irrelevant, in my opinion.

        We need to stop talking ONLY about the woman. If a man got a woman pregnant, we as a society need to grab the guy and say, "Where are you going? Oh no. This is YOUR problem too".

        I guarantee, if men were held just as responsible for an unwanted pregnancy as women, we'd have a LOT less unwanted pregnancies.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
    • raforrester

      I agree with Roe v Wade that it is based on the development of the nervous system. Sperm and egg are both just as alive as any other cells, but when they get together they start the growth of a potential human being. It is no more a human being at that point than an acorn is an oak tree. The first thing that grows is is a ball of cells that will eventually be the big bag that holds the fetus. Definitely no baby there yet. Then on one side of that a few cells start developing into a fetus that initially has no nerves or capability of movement. Before 3 months the fetus develops nerve cells but those cells are not connected into a nervous system, so it cannot think or feel. Between 3 months and 6 months the nervous system becomes connected and after 6 months it has a fully functioning nervous system. So that's why the Supreme Court decided that befor 3 months a fetus is not yet a human being and an abortin is OK for any reason. Then for the next 3 months it is slowly becoming a human being, bu it is a gray area in which it requires more and more compelling reasons to abort, and finally in the last 3 months it is a real human being and must be treated that way, and only medical necessity can justify an abortion.

      It is really easy to say that a fertilized egg is a baby, but that is only if you want easy answers that don't require thinking or knowledge. Reality is not black and white, but children think in black and white, and do not handle shades of gray. As people become adults they should become able to handle shades or gray and morally complicated issues. If you are an adult and still think in black and white, your development has been seriously impaired.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • FredGarvin

      Life begins when you can kill it.

      January 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  13. David Hoffman

    There is a big flaw in the changes to strategy. Those same young people can also use the very same internet connection to get information from those who support abortion rights. The biggest benefit of the WWW is that it has allowed information that was once blocked from people to be discovered. The new global outlook for music and video that the WWW helped create, also created in the younger generation a willingness to seach worldwide for information. What happens when they discover Christians around the Earth who do not make dictating a limited set of life choices to women their life's work?

    January 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the internet and fact-checking are killing religion.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
      • Claire

        That's funny, from a look at this thread it's breeding ignorance and the popularity of logical fallacies.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  14. Bootyfunk

    odd that christians have more abortions than any other group in this country...

    January 22, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • Sampson

      I know, right?

      January 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
    • Logic.

      Christians also happen to be most PEOPLE in the country, so don't go pointing fingers. It's not like the exact same people having abortions are the exact same ones speaking against them. (Unless one has an abortion and then regrets it and changes her mind).

      January 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
  15. Bootyfunk

    god is against abortion?
    can a christian tell me why there is a recipe for abortion in the bible then?

    January 22, 2014 at 11:56 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      and why god causes so many miscarriages! Oh those poor innocent unborn babies! Oh god, how could you?!

      January 22, 2014 at 11:59 am |
  16. radar8

    I'll believe these "right to life" jokers when they also protest about the hundreds of thousands killed in wars that we started. and when they tell us that they will help to support the lives that they save.

    As it is, these religious nut-cases think that microscopic life somehow is more important than grown children and adults. IT's all political. THey don't care about life. They only care about winning the fight.

    January 22, 2014 at 11:54 am |
    • magicpanties

      Yep, if they truly want to decrease abortions, then provide free contraceptives to all.
      Instead, they support shutting down women's clinics.

      January 22, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • Jeff from Columbus

      Simple question for you: When does life begin?

      January 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • sandalista

        As per Bill Maher: Anti abortion point of view.
        "Life begins when the sperm hits the hooha. There is a third person in the room before the guy can grab a towel"

        January 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
    • babies are beautiful

      The simple truth [you'll find this difficult] is that to Pro-lifers ALL life is sacred from conception to it's natural end.

      YOU people support 53+ MILLION murders of vulnerable, defenceless babies in the womb because they're inconvenient - euthanasia for the sick and disabled whom you consider non-viable - and the atrocities caused by American causing wars everywhere they go. You wallow in your culture of death – "As you sow; so shall you reap"

      January 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        But they are only visibly active in the anti-abortion arena – not anti-war, anti-death penalty, anti-hunger, etc.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
        • Jeff from Columbus

          You must not be looking very hard. Catholics are major opponents of capital punishment and usually are leading the way in protests when someone is executed.

          The Catholic Church was opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning. I have no hard evidence but I'm sure many, many Catholics participated in protests against the war in Iraq.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
        • Grinning Libber

          ...often quite the opposite in fact.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
      • Grinning Libber

        Why does "god" make so called pro-lifers such LIARS?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
      • ME II

        Perhaps when everyone is properly fed then we can deal with how to feed more?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
  17. Grinning Libber

    Religion is all about control over you and you money PERIOD.
    Another prime example.

    January 22, 2014 at 11:49 am |
    • The Truth

      Please explain how. I am Catholic and my religion has no mandatory contributions/spending every penny spent by Catholics is 100% voluntary by their own free will. My personal example I have given $0 to any Catholic Church or Catholic sponsored organization in the last 5 years. Why? That is my own business, no one elses, and my religion can not make me do otherwise.

      Kind of blows a large gapping hole in your ignorant theory.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
      • Grinning Libber

        But here you are flogging control...

        January 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        doesn't really blow a hole in his theory...
        just because one member of the cult has pulled out of financial support of the church.
        it doesn't blow the theory that the church is about control and money.
        it just means part of their control scheme doesn't work on you.

        btw, would love to hear why you don't give anymore? i know you said it's no one else's business, but it does seem relevant to what we are discussing.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
      • They can't Handle the Truth

        NO ONE HERE wants to hear the truth – its easier to HATE people when you only hear ugly lies about them.

        I'm NOT Catholic, but there's no way to HONESTLY deny the billions spent worldwide by Catholic Charities to help the poor and oppressed.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      I always thought that it was about funny hats.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • David

      Yeah but so is Capitalism.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
      • Grinning Libber

        Did I defend capitalism?

        January 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
      • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

        Capitalism is the single greatest achievement in human history.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
      • ME II

        Actually, Capitalism is about control over capital an the means of production, personal vs. state/commune/social group.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • GnatB

      Yep, just how all those religious folks back in the day went and made owning black folks illegal. How dare they control what those white plantation owners were doing.

      January 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
      • Grinning Libber

        I'm quite sure the plantation owners were "religious"

        January 22, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
  18. sly

    "I wonder : why don't the Christians leave the fate of abortionists to... God ..."
    True ... humans have free will, and about 70% of us in America have exercised our free will to grant women the right to their own bodies.

    That said ... everyone has the right to an opinion, so march march march. This is America. It's a free country. All is good.

    January 22, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • ME II

      I don't think anyone is suggesting that they shouldn't be allowed to demonstrate.

      January 22, 2014 at 11:49 am |
  19. istenno

    instead of all the time, money, and effort of an anti-abortion rally, why don't they have a pro-birth control rally? seems like it would make much more of a difference.

    January 22, 2014 at 11:47 am |
    • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

      Have you ever spoken to a Catholic before? That's a big no-no for those guys. Condoms cause AIDS, apparently.

      January 22, 2014 at 11:50 am |
      • Pest

        Yeah, stopping abortions is only a secondary objective for them, otherwise they would support contraceptives. The primary objective is obviously control.

        January 22, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • Grinning Libber


          January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
      • 17 year old Catholic girl

        Strawman. Try again with a real argument.

        January 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
    • Live4Him

      How does this address the rampant promiscuity?

      January 22, 2014 at 11:54 am |
      • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

        Thankfully, it doesn't. Long live rampant promiscuity, the sole purpose of mankind's existence.

        January 22, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • ea

          Exactly the" thinking" I'd expect to find at Communist News Network.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
        • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

          Hmmmm, that might make more sense if I wasn't a conservative.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        And the animals too! How can we address their rampant promiscuity?

        January 22, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • Lol@Live4Him

        Oh! I know! We'll outlaw se.x!! And legislate biblical morality! Yeah! Damn right!

        January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
      • Econ301

        And the truth comes out about what the abortion debate is really all about.

        January 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Econ301 : And the truth comes out about what the abortion debate is really all about.

          Yep, a lot of 20-something boys wanting to use women and not wanting anything to get in the way of their goals.

          January 22, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        L4H: You mean SEX??? Oh you silly old coot, just because you're not getting any doesn't mean others shouldn't! Go back to your cauldron err I mean bible!

        January 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
    • Logic.

      Abortion skyrocketed when contraception because widespread.

      January 22, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
  20. Somebody's Attractive Cousin

    A hipster and a Catholic? I think I just puked a little bit.

    January 22, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • Polopoint


      January 22, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • Somebody's Attractive Cousin

        Yep, a little bit.

        January 22, 2014 at 11:53 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.