Last weekend, more than 100 students from Hillsdale College boarded buses and spent the next 36 hours traveling to and from Washington, D.C., to affirm once more their allegiance to life and its Giver. There was time for the protest march and for a worship service, but there was no scheduled time to rest. The students who organized it gave an extraordinary amount themselves. The students who went sacrificed time, sleep, and comfort. Their service to an ideal is admirable and humbling. But, at the risk of sounding disloyal to people and a cause we love and respect, we want to raise the question: was their time well spent?
Forty years ago, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. For 40 years, people have descended on Washington to demand that our two great powers, the media and Capitol Hill, acknowledge the humanity of an unborn child. Congress and the courts have paid little attention. The media has paid no attention. Has anyone heard the protest except the protesters themselves?
The well-known Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre argues that modern protests are frivolous because they witness against something without giving their allegiance to anything else. That is not true of the March for Life, and we are not arguing that the march is trivial. But the pro-life cause loses a battle every time a woman has an abortion. We’ve lost a lot of battles, and the march has proved an ineffective weapon.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Many people say it is a precious time of prayer and sanctification that draws them closer to God. But it might mean that there are better ways to fight for the cause of life.
Maybe volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center in town. It’s even possible that one of your classes on the Friday of the march would have done more to equip you for fights down the road. That will all probably feel isolated and insufficient, and it is. The problem isn’t going away anytime soon. But if we intend to end abortion, it’s time to try something else.