A day at the Texas March for Life

January 26, 2009 | 26 comments

Friday night I told my husband I probably wasn’t going to go to the Texas March for Life with him the next day. My husband, who also used to be staunchly pro-choice, really wanted to go, but I had a million things to do and it was going to be cold. I said a little prayer asking if I should go (assuming that I’d skip it unless I felt strongly prompted otherwise), and went on about my business.

A couple hours later I accidentally stumbled across a picture of an infant killed by abortion at 27 weeks gestation, an age where babies are old enough to cry and gasp for breath and live outside of the womb (if you dare look, it’s on the bottom right of the sidebar here). It was a moment of the closet where I stuff inconvenient facts getting overloaded and bursting open, burying me in the dread of the cold realization that we live in a society where something terrible is happening. Infanticide is already legal under many circumstances (some currently-running ads for late-term abortions here), and may soon become legal under all circumstances. Sometimes I wonder how we sleep at night.

So I went to the march. Not that marching is a substitute for taking real action (I also reconfirmed an appointment to talk to someone about getting more involved at our local crisis pregnancy center), but I just couldn’t sit home. My heart felt so heavy about the issue that it was somehow cathartic to stand outside with numb fingers in the stinging cold wind just to add one more drop to the bucket of the gathered masses.

I felt bad for the organizers in advance because a cold front had blown through and the wind chill was in the low 30’s — unbearable by Texan standards — so I assumed it would be a sparse turnout. Boy, was I wrong.

I’m terrible at estimating numbers, but there were thousands and thousands of people there. When we walked down Congress Avenue the crowd of wall-to-wall people stretched for more than eight blocks. (Below is a picture taken from the middle of the group, looking back on the crowd turning the corner.)

I’d never been to a march as a participant. I never really quite understood their purpose. Do marches really ever change the opinions of fellow citizens or legislatures? It seemed unlikely. But having been there yesterday, it was hit home to me on a gut level why marches are effective.

It’s a way to generate energy. So many bodies in one place, passionate about one cause, leaves a certain electricity in the air that makes you want to jump up and take action.

It sends a message. When I was pro-choice I didn’t know anyone who was pro-life. The pro-life movement to me was nothing more than a bunch of shadowy figures who were up to no good. I would have found it interesting to see so many thousands of my fellow citizens, maybe even some people I recognized, gathered for a cause that was so completely foreign to me — as perhaps it was for the countless passers-by who stopped to stare at all the marchers while fumbling for cameras and cell phones.

It’s a way to meet other likeminded people, to exchange ideas and information and get involved with organizations. This was one of my favorite parts of it. I met some great folks like Fr. Michael Buentello, who was there with the students from St. Thomas University in Houston. (I told him I just had to take his picture since a priest in a cowboy hat is just so “Texan Catholic.”)

I got to chat with the founders of the New Wave Femmes, a powerful pro-life feminist organization that’s doing a lot of exciting stuff. You can see some pictures of what they’re up to here. (Baby New Wave Femme is in the sling there on the left.)

…And I met folks from the tons of other organizations that were there, including Silent No More, Texas Lutherans for Life, Texas Abortion Recovery Alliance, Concerned Women for America, and many of the various crisis pregnancy centers throughout the state.

I’m so glad I went. The pro-life stance doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media and society at large, so it was inspiring and invigorating to see such a force assembled to fight for this cause. Walking amongst thousands and thousands of pro-life marchers sent a loud, visceral message to all involved. For the women who have been personally touched by the trauma of abortion, for anyone who’s ever lost sleep at night after seeing pictures or video of what really happens to those “fetuses, ” for anyone who sometimes looks around with deep concern about the increasing erosion of respect for human life and wondered, “What are we going to DO?”, one message was loud and clear: You are not alone.



  1. Kingdom Mama

    Wonderful! I find this soooo encouraging. And also, it makes me want to move back to TX!:)

  2. Hannah

    Interesting – I’ve never seen anything like that in the UK. Especially the pro-life feminists. Thought-provoking.

  3. Sara

    I went to the March in Atlanta, even though I almost backed out. I went because I’d been thinking about your post on recognizing God’s “voice” and being at peach with decisions. The thought of not going was making me sick to my stomach!

  4. Tres Angelas

    Good for you. So many of my fellow parishioners (Our Lady of Hope, Potomac Falls, VA) went to the National Right to Life March that organizers had to book an additional bus and still couldn’t accommodate everybody.

    The Washington Post, of course, gave the event scant coverage, and closed the article by quoting a “pro-choice” counter-demonstrator, a girl from an unnamed area Catholic high school.

    Par for the course. I cancelled my subscription to the Post years ago.

  5. Shelly W

    It is GREAT that you did this! I’ve never marched for life before, but you’re making me think it would be a worthwhile thing to do. I have been on the board of our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, and that was certainly worthwhile. I’m glad you’re getting involved.

  6. Alicia Nin

    Great post, thanks Jen. Here in Uruguay, a bill that makes abortion legal was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate last November. The president, who is also a doctor specialized in cancer, vetoed it a few weeks later. His party is very angry with him. I went to a march opposing the law two weeks before my fifth child was born. Thanks so much for your blog.

  7. Margaret in Minnesota

    Good for you for going, Jen! No, blessed are you for going!

    Here in Minnesota, we had thousands of Pro-Life witnesses turn up at the Capitol. I didn’t go but instead, offered up the sacrifice of going to Mass with my five children (including my 4-year-old, who given her temperament counts as an additional three kids).

    And no, I don’t dare look at that photo. I am not far in my pregnancy from 27 weeks’ gestation, and I’m afraid it would be more than my mother’s heart could handle.

  8. veniteadoremus

    Thank you so much for posting this (especially the New Wave Femmes). Even at the other side of the world we feel less alone.

    (Will there ever be a March for Life in the Netherlands?)

  9. Tara Sz.

    Praise God Jen thank you so much!! My husband and I went to the Nat’l March for Life in DC (we live in Philly, so we have no excuse not to go). I was afraid this year would be subdued, perhaps with lower numbers, based on discouragement with the new anti-life regime in the White House. Boy was I WRONG! There is a new fire in the pro-life movement. I think we all feel an added sense of urgency to step-up now more than ever. For the first time in my life, I feel like change is just one generation away.

    And if you look at the numbers, it’s probably mathematically true. Pro-lifers are having four, five, and six (or more!) kids, whereas the pro-aborts are limiting family size to one or two. So it won’t be long now until we literally outnumber them. And life will always win.

    Thank you for reminding me that WE’RE NOT ALONE.

  10. Anonymous

    I don’t understand marches. Didn’t say I don’t agree with the cause. I know a NICU nurse who deals daily with low weight babies I mean ounces and she says they have so much love at that age and weight and personality! There are people out there who want babies and would welcome these children. You are right!

  11. Eliz

    Bravo, Jen! I took part in 40 Days for Life this past fall, and it was also a powerful lesson for me in terms of the real value of marches and protests. It’s really more about strengthening our own commitment instead of changing the minds of others (though that’s always a nice benefit, if it happens). I’ve been thinking about getting involved with a local CPC, too.

  12. Jenny

    I'm so glad you got the chance to go, Jennifer – were the little ones bundled up in strollers with you? We also had thought we wouldn't make it this year and then found ourselves on our way to an errand at exactly that place & time where the March was beginning and knew it wasn't coincidence (it was all the more convincing that we should stop & join in to hear our 3-year-old shouting from the back of the van "I want to to do it, too. I want to help the babies, too."). It was chilly, but just imagine what the National March was like! See you tomorrow.

  13. mloustalot

    It was a day like no other, so says my dd (who, BTW, is at the bottom left hand corner of the 3rd pic from the top of your blog) and her friends from our local parish in H-town. She and her buds are quite energized (which is one purpose for these types of events, I guess)and as the future belongs to such as these, I say, rock on!

  14. Annie

    I love your blog, Jen. I’ve been receiving nagging taps on the shoulder lately which have prompted me to become pro-life.
    It started when our friend from Holland was visiting and was telling us about his 10-month old daughter with Down’s Syndrome. He said they are the only family in their community with a DS child and they are rare in Holland in general because the majority of people there abort their babies with DS. That information left me cold. I knew Europe was “ahead of the curve” when it comes to abortion, but I had never really thought of it in those terms – a form of selective reproduction.
    Some other things have been nagging me over the last few months, including women’s vicious reactions to Sarah Palin’s pro-life stance (I live in liberal Northern California and have grown weary of women shrieking about their “women’s rights” being taken away during every election).
    I also “happened” to come upon a wonderful radio interview with a pro-lifer who had had an abortion herself and was supported by her family in doing so, but when she became religious they were far from supportive. She now runs a group which supports women while they have their babies rather than aborting them.
    The last nudge I received was Friday (the day before the Walk) when I went to see Revolutionary Road, which I thought was going to be a love story – guess I should have read the reviews. The ending was disturbing with Kate Winslet’s character giving herself an abortion against her husband’s wishes, then dying, leaving her 2 older children motherless.
    Come to think of it, I think God is not just tapping my shoulder, but shouting at me to become more involved in the pro-life movement. Thanks for being an example for me.

  15. Betty Beguiles

    Wish we could have joined you! These photos are amazing!

  16. Heather

    Oh, Jennifer, now I have to figure out what to do with that! I was born and raised pro-life and have seen many photos of aborted fetuses, but none quite as impactful as the one you linked to on your post. My kids and I participated in a 40 days for life campaign by fasting and praying last year. I need to hear from the Lord if there’s something more to do. I just can’t bear it. God, bring light to the darkened eyes!

  17. kris

    This is Off topic but – I have read your posts on spiritual dryness and I have always intended to suggest a song that captures this well…Never Alone by BarlowGirl. I’m sure you can YouTube it with lyrics. The lyrics (for me) capture the dryness that comes and how we can persevere and get through it. Every time I hear it on the radio I think of you. Which is weird because I don’t know you – strange eh? Well, hope you check it out.
    Your sister in Christ – Kristan

  18. Christine

    I know full well what a baby at 27 weeks gestation is capable of. My daughter, now 6, was born at 25.5 weeks gestation (1 lb 11 oz) by emergency Csection when my placenta tore away from the uterine wall. By 27 weeks she was nursing (though not well), opening her eyes, was off the respirator and on a Cpap machine. I could touch her, she could grasp my finger, and she could respond to the songs I sang softly to her in her isolette. That age of baby, horror of horrors, is killed daily in our world today. It makes me weep just thinking about it.

  19. Gregaria

    Yay! I love the pro-life movement. I’ve been involved since I was 16 and have gone to the pro-life march in my state capitol as well as the West Coast March for Life. I’ve also participated in 40 Days for Life and prayed outside of abortion clinics on many other occasions. (I’ve done all of this because I belong to a pro-life youth group.) Anyways, its so encouraging to read that there is a big pro-life march in your state, too! The media is SO silent on the whole deal that I’ve wondered if our state is the only one that participates. If the media actually covered the marches that happen all around the country every January, I think people would seriously begin to question their pro-choice stances. There are SO many people and SO many marches. Not to mention the 40 Days for Life. I think there’s a lot of hope. Little by little, we’re changing our communities, and eventually, that will change the country… and hopefully the world.

  20. Anonymous

    I think the benefit of marching is encouragement. I did not march but I am pro-life and watched the march on EWTN. I was so discouraged knowing that it would not be covered at all in the press, yet hearing you talk about what it’s like to actually be at a march reminded me that when you actually do it it’s a joyful experience to see all that beauty around you. Christ’s body, working toward peace! Thank you-I keep reminding myself that it’s a young movement. I remember that many of the counter protesters were left over hippies in their 70’s still living in the past.Yikes!

  21. Abigail

    I love your pictures!

  22. noreen

    Thank you for your post! It’s exciting to see how passionate pro-lifers are in every corner of the country. Isn’t it amazing to see that many people on fire for the same cause? We had our March in Washington State last week and we had about 6,000 to 7,000 people there. The National March in DC is unlike anything else I have ever seen. We can change this country and save those babies. We are trying to get people on board for a Week for Life so that one day during the week we gather and the rest of the week can be devoted to other ways to change hearts and minds. http://www.washingtonmarchforlife.org/. God bless you for sharing!

  23. Kate

    I also joined the Walk For Life West Coast last weekend and like you it was my first March. I was impressed and amazed at the number of people that showed up even though the forecast said there will be rain. It was uplifting to see the multitudes of people fighting for life even as we live in a society plagued by a culture of death.

    Thanks for your post.

  24. Anonymous

    We are out there.

    Fighting and praying for life.

    God bless.

  25. Courageous Grace

    My son (1 year on the 23rd) and I participated in the Dallas March for Life on the 17th. It was great to see the turnout. The march paused outside the courthouse where RvW was passed. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear the speech being made but there was a certain vitality to the air that day.

  26. Cat

    This post inspired me to finally sit down and write an email to the head of the Greens party in Australia and a newly elected representative in the federal Senate (she represents my state Queensland) about both abortion and euthanasia. So even though the march was over a year and a half ago and on the other side of the world, it’s still generating momentum. 🙂

    PS: You have also inspired me to pray more of the LOTH. I had started praying the Night Prayer on and off but I am now praying this and the Morning Prayer each day and reading your archives really propelled me to do this. Thank you for ministering to us through your story. 🙂

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