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.