Though the Republican establishment and the conservative base often clash–and have a history of doing so on pro-life issues–Wednesday’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. was a testament to how resonant the issue is. It was a rare instance in which the establishment and the base were, for the most part, on the same page.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote that the “fact that hundreds of thousands of peaceful activists turn up every year in the coldest month in D.C. – despite snowstorms and media indifference – is a testament to their commitment to building a culture of life”:
As Pope John Paul II taught us: “To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.
I am personally so appreciative of the Right to Life activists who planted that pro-life seed in me as a young girl observing their dedicated efforts to protect innocent life. To them, Trig and our entire family say, “thank you.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that the March for Life was “a solemn ritual” that “reminds us of the tragic loss of over 56 million unborn lives.”
“Every human life is a precious gift from God, and our law should protect innocent human life. Yet 41 years ago, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision overturned the Texas law that prohibited abortion on demand,” Cruz said. “As we mourn the loss of millions of souls, we also commemorate the good work that citizens continue to do to fervently defend life.”
He noted that “beyond the thousands of marchers in Washington today, countless individuals are devoted to affirming life, to promoting adoption and to helping provide comfort and aid to new mothers in distress. Their efforts have continued to make significant steps towards valuing the dignity of each human life.”
Cruz also highlighted how last year late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell was “convicted of deliberately killing babies already born.” He said that though “the tragedy of that case can never be undone, [the] fact that he was found guilty by a jury of his peers in Philadelphia is a small step towards basic human decency.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) asked, “Can a civilization long endure if it does not respect Life?”
“It is the government’s duty to protect life, liberty, and property, but primarily and most importantly, a government must protect Life,” Paul said. “In order to protect the unborn from the very moment Life begins, I introduced the Life at Conception Act. Today, our nation wavers and our moral compass is adrift. Only when America chooses, remembers and restores her respect for life will we re-discover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”
The conservative stalwarts were joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who spoke at the march and said that “there is an inalienable right to life and that this right extends to the unborn. This is not a political truth subject to the whims of man.”
“It is a moral truth and was written, as one famous Virginian noted, by our Creator,” Cantor said. “All attempts to rewrite or obscure this truth may prevail in the moment, but will ultimately fail.” He continued, “You, the marchers – the advocates, who don’t mind enduring the worst weather Washington could throw at you for the opportunity to change one heart and one mind — you are our movement’s not-so-secret weapon. You are our strongest advocates, and those of us in public office are merely fortunate to stand on your shoulders.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) praised the annual event for becoming a “hallmark of the pro-life movement” and welcomed “this year’s marchers to our nation’s capital as they renew their commitment to sharing truth about abortion and the humanity of the unborn child.”
He thanked organizers for their “unfailing commitment” to life and honored the late founder of the March for Life. “Millions of pro-life Americans stand on the shoulders of the late Nellie Gray, who founded the March for Life in 1974 to protest the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision,” he said. “Nellie inspired an entire generation to promote a culture of life, a cause that is undeniably succeeding and seeks to defend those whom Pope Francis recently called ‘the most defenseless and innocent among us.'”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote a piece in National Review in which he said that the Supreme Court’s “infamous decision in Roe v. Wade” has meant that “the most vulnerable among us — children in the womb — no longer have a right to life and liberty” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. “Whatever happiness they might have had and whatever dreams they might have pursued can be snuffed out before they are even born,” Portman wrote. “As the March for Life has grown in strength and prominence, so too has the pro-life movement. Abortion divides our nation on a very personal basis, but because of the hard work of the pro-life community and remarkable advances in medical technology, attitudes are changing.”
He cited a Gallup poll that found that a majority of Americans support limiting abortion after the 20th week and another that found that 80 percent of Americans support banning late-term abortions to emphasize that “most Americans now believe that abortion should be as rare as possible.” Portman also mentioned that “young people are increasingly pro-life” and that “it is estimated that half of March for Life attendees are under the age of 30.”
Portman said, “Some of this shift in public opinion stems from a deeper understanding of the stages of pregnancy [because] we know now that babies in the womb can feel pain, and new technology allows us to detect heartbeats earlier than ever before and gives us a view into fetal development that was previously unimaginable.”
“We never could have gotten here were it not for the dedication and compassion of the pro-life community,” he wrote. “Members of this community generously support adoption and foster programs; in addition, many families open their homes to needy children. This compassionate approach has been key to changing hearts and minds across our country.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who could not attend the March because he was traveling in Asia, released a video last Friday in which he said pro-life supporters must “never waiver in this effort.” Rather, these supporters must “always dedicate ourselves to changing the hearts and minds of others.” He asserted that life begins at conception and that the “duty to protect life” is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. He then invited Floridians at the march to his office for coffee and snacks.
As Breitbart News extensively reported, March for Life attendees vowed to make 2014 a big year for pro-life issues after the abortion movement suffered one of the worst years ever in statehouses across the country in 2013.