How the National March for Life Changed My Perspective on Abortion
by Ag Park
March for Life is a national annual event in Canada and the U.S. that brings pro-life supporters together who demand social justice and wish to stop the hundreds of thousands of abortions that occur every year.
This May, I was lucky enough to attend this event with my high school. I, along with two of my friends, teachers, and students from other nearby schools, went on a 5 hour bus ride to Parliament Hill, Ottawa in Canada.
The bus ride to Ottawa felt very long because I was tired but couldn’t fall asleep. I had mixed feelings about the trip because at that time, I had no strong opinions on abortion; I neither supported it nor was against it. To be candid, I haven’t thought much about abortion and was indifferent to this issue. My friends had the same mindset as I did.
As we arrived in Ottawa, we started to regret signing up for this trip; we didn’t want to be a part of a protest when we didn’t even know if we were pro-life or pro-choice. But nevertheless, we stood amongst excited and eager Canadians holding signs and listened to representatives including MP’s, organizers of the event, and women who regretted their abortions speak. I particularly found that the speeches from women who regretted their abortion very effective because I realized that abortion can have tremendous psychological impacts on women and affect their mental health. I also started to believe that abortion was immoral.
After hearing the speeches, we went on a march around the streets of Parliament Hill, holding signs and protesting for people to see and hear. As we marched, I saw people from the streets stop and stare and a bunch of people hiding behind curtains of their house to peek.The march was mostly cheerful and full of spirit until we passed by some pro-lifers holding signs that had graphic and detailed pictures of what aborted fetuses look like. The signs were very disturbing and really had a great impact on me. My teacher explained that someone needed to hold these signs up for the world to see the ugly reality of what happens to aborted fetuses. This really got to me and I was really disgusted by abortion. I pictured hundreds of thousands of dead, bloody fetuses in abortion clinics and hospitals and couldn’t get these images out of my head.
Thankfully, we quickly passed by those signs, and I was able to calm down and get the images out of my head. For me, the most memorable part of the march other than seeing those disturbing images was when we came across one woman in the street who kept yelling, “Liars, liars, liars!” She looked very angry and scary. I wanted to ask her why she was calling us liars but chickened out. The march was pretty short (about 45 minutes), but a lot happened in those 45 minutes.
After hearing the speeches and participating in the march, we checked in at our hotel and got ready for the banquet dinner where we heard speeches from keynote speakers. My friends and I were very excited about what they had to say because we really wanted to hear about what pro-lifers had to say about abortion. The first few speeches were a little disappointing, however, because I felt as if they all said the same thing: abortion is wrong because it’s killing a living being before going on to preach about God and religion. Nothing else. I felt sorry for non-religious people in the room because some of the speeches felt like speeches from church.
We really wanted someone to talk about different circumstances like rape and whether or not women who were sexually assaulted have the right to seek an abortion should they become pregnant from their attack. My friends and I became impatient and tired of hearing the same message. One of my friends even blurted out, “Why did I even come here” after a while. Thankfully, the last speech was different and literally changed our lives. A female speaker used a PowerPoint presentation that visually outlined the different circumstances women face that lead them to choose to seek an abortion including rape, family/financial struggles, and societal pressures. She explained that every woman is different, and no one can truly understand the struggles she goes through. What she said next really got to me: it’s unfortunate that circumstances like rape happen to many women. To tell these women to give birth to the child of their rapist is cruel and harsh. The only logical solution to this situation would probably be to abort. However, though this is a very hard, brutal time for these women, we need to ask ourselves one thing: when is killing a child, another human being, ever a solution? Isn’t killing a crime that goes against human dignity?
The whole room froze in silence as we reflected on what she said. She then said that there were some people who believe that fetuses aren’t human beings and are just a bunch of human tissues, but fetuses grow into babies just as babies grow into adults. The only difference between fetuses, babies, and adults is their stage of development. She ended her speech with these exact words, “If rapists don’t even get the death sentence, then why should innocent babies?” These words were so powerful and so true. I’ve never thought about it that way. My friends and I were satisfied; we got the answer we wanted.
We then went up to our room to sleep and the next day, we packed up to go back home. Our attitude differed greatly compared to our first day at March for Life; we were now sad about leaving rather than wanting to leave. Our bus ride home was another memorable time for me. During our ride, we each went around with a microphone to talk about how we liked the trip and some of the highlights. We all agreed that our opinions totally changed after coming to the event and that we can now relate and agree to the pro-life perspective on abortion. But we also found one thing that could change about this event in the future: including all religions and not just Catholics. Most of the event was dedicated to Catholicism in terms of the speeches that talked about God and faith as well as the fact that we had to go to Mass in the morning as part of the program. We all felt that this event was too faith-based and felt that this event will be more powerful if the social justice aspect of abortion was discussed rather than the religious perspective. Even though I’m Catholic, I agreed with this because I saw that my friends, who are not religious, were left out when religion was mentioned. I felt that religion created a barrier that prevented more people of all faiths from joining this event.
Overall, we enjoyed this experience so much that we even came up with the idea of starting a pro-life club at our school. We wanted to share our experience with other students and spread awareness on this important issue of abortion. Not many people think about abortion and I think it’s up to the younger generation (us students) to promote a change.
I am very thankful that I was able to attend the March. This is definitely a highlight of my high school years so far. If you’re interested in attending or finding out more about this incredible life-changing event, please visit www.marchforlife.org