Thursday, hundreds of thousands took to the mall to march in protest of abortion, which stills thousands of tiny beating hearts in America daily. The crowd has become an overwhelmingly young one. So young that the site of the 2010 March for Life prompted the then-departing head of NARAL, Nancy Keenan, to remark, “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young. There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
It should not surprise America that the pro-life movement is growing younger and stronger. Incredible advances in science have made it possible for young women such as myself to first greet our children and witness their miraculous development beginning when they aren’t much bigger than a legume. Today’s women track their baby’s developments with any number of smartphone apps. Today’s children are growing up in a world where ultrasound pictures of their siblings are taped to the family refrigerator. Today’s would-be parents are bringing children into the world where tremendous medical advances keep nudging backward the age at which babies born prematurely can be kept alive.
And while America remains deeply divided about the legality of abortion, these advances in technology and science are shaping our attitudes about its morality. Forty-nine percent of Americans consider abortion to be immoral, versus just 15% who consider it morally acceptable. The recent efforts of many of the leaders of the pro-choice movement to frame abortion as something casual or even as a “social good,” as liberal pundit Hanna Rosin recently put it, are not likely to succeed in a nation increasingly aware of the fragile miracle that is human life in gestation.
And there are signs that the American attitude is shifting in the direction of support for laws that protect women and babies, especially in a post-Gosnell world. The past four years have seen more pro-life laws passed by state legislatures than in the entire previous decade.
The 2014 midterm elections saw a huge number of legislators who self-identify as pro-life elected to office. Pro-choice darling Wendy Davis was a spectacular failure, and candidates like Mark Udall, who campaigned on abortion rights, not only lost but were criticized for emphasizing their pro-choice positions. The war on woman rhetoric the abortion rights camp has been using will likely be retired, especially when the youngest womanin history was elected to Congress last year, and she is a staunchly pro-life woman in fiercely pro-choice state.
Even so, America remains one of the most extreme nations in the world when it comes to abortion. Last year the British parliament voted to end sex-selective abortion by a staggering 181 votes to one. By contrast, the last time this issue came up for a vote in the House of Representatives, the bill failed with 168 legislators voting against the ban. The United States is one of six countries in the world that allows abortion for any reason after 20 weeks of gestation, placing us in the good company of China and North Korea, neither of which are hallowed for their human rights records.
And so there is much that motivates the teaming throngs that will descend on the Mall today. The ultrasound generation especially will not relent. Rather, with each advance that supports our deeply held belief that life is fragile and precious in all its stages, regardless of sex or disability, we grow emboldended.
We are marching for the most innocent lives. And we won’t stop until we’ve won.
Ashley McGuire is a fellow at the American Conservative Union Foundation and a senior fellow at The Catholic Association.