- - Friday, January 20, 2023

The March for Life in 2023 should be the last time a march for the pro-life movement is held in Washington, D.C., during the month of January. The debate has shifted from the court of law to the court of public opinion. After holding the march in our Nation’s capital for half a century, it is time to move our efforts to policymakers in the states.  

My first time at the March for Life was during my freshman year in college. We were caught in a snowstorm that left us stuck in Washington for several extra days. Despite the snow, we were thrilled to hear from President Ronald Reagan. 

Our 40th President told the crowd: “It’s evident to me that you’re not going to let a little weather stand in the way of this noble cause, and to all of you there in this year’s March for Life: Welcome to Washington, and thank you for your commitment to the right to life of America’s unborn children.”

Mr. Reagan continued, “Today, you remind all of us that abortion is not a harmless medical procedure but the taking of the life of a living human being. This tragic and terrible toll continues at a rate of more than 4,000 young lives lost each day. Our national commitment to the dignity of all human life must begin with the respect for our most basic civil right: the right to life. In my State of the Union Address last year, I observed that America will never be whole as long as the right to life, granted by our Creator, is denied to the unborn. Together we can overturn Roe v. Wade, and end this national tragedy.”

It took another 35 years to reach that glorious day. To be clear, however, the decision this past year by the Supreme Court of the United States did not ban abortion. It rightfully returned that debate to elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. 

Special thanks to President George Bush for nominating Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, President George W. Bush for nominating Chief Justice John J. Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito., and President Donald J. Trump for nominating Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. These six members of the Supreme Court made the correct decision that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion. 

Going forward, the legal standards related to abortion will be set by those individuals elected to office at the local, state, and federal levels of government. This is precisely why our focus should shift from praying for the Supreme Court to overturn the egregious Roe v. Wade decision towards a renewed focus on the laws in all 50 states and the standards of the federal government. 

Thankfully, the organization that runs the national March for Life has been working to put together state marches over the past few years. Winning in the state capitals, however, will require more than marches. We must work together on ways to change hearts and minds on the issue of abortion. 

One area where we must devote more time and energy is with young people. There was a time less than a decade ago when there were more voters between the ages of 18 and 29 who considered themselves pro-life than pro-choice, according to Gallup Polls. In 2022, the numbers had sadly changed, with 71% calling themselves pro-choice while just 26% considered themselves pro-life. 

When compared to other age categories, support for legalized abortion is the highest amongst the youngest voting block. Interestingly, support for abortion grows with time in college. Not unlike other issues, it is likely that the shift towards more radical viewpoints on campuses over the past few years is having a significant impact on the views of younger voters when it comes to abortion. 

All the more reason that we need to match an emotional plea against abortion with a factual argument. One effective tool is talking about the development of an unborn baby. Helping students understand when an unborn child can feel pain, when we can start to hear a heartbeat and other parts of the baby’s development are critical to making an emotional appeal against the taking of human life. 

Abortion is the human rights issue of our time. We need to show our love and compassion - for both the unborn child and her or his mother. 

As we mark the first January since 1973 without the infamous Roe v. Wade decision enforced across the country, let us commit ourselves to make the emotional, factual, ethical, and spiritual case for life. It is our duty to share this with young people across America.

• Scott Walker is president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019. 

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