By Erica Smith, student at Brigham Young University in Utah
Last month, hundreds of thousands of people attended the Washington D.C. National Pro-Life March, and many more marched across the country and around the world. The National Pro-Life March is the most important pro-life event of the year. But most of us don’t live in the DC area, so it’s up to us to find local opportunities to make our voices heard.
Abortion has a small presence in my native Utah. The state contains two abortion centers, a Planned Parenthood and an independent clinic. Still, over 3,000 abortions are performed in Utah per year. Pro-Life Utah, the state’s first citizen advocacy group focused specifically on the pro-life cause, was founded less than eighteen months ago in response to the viral Planned Parenthood baby parts videos. Salt Lake City’s first National Pro-Life March took place last year, when PLU vice president Deanna Holland discovered there was none. The night before, she gathered thirty-five friends and marched on the state capitol with signs hand painted by her children. This year, their second and my first, the turnout swelled to several hundred.
The Pro-Life Generation may also be the social media generation, but sometimes we have to move from Twitter to the public square. We know the DC March is a commitment of time and money. Plane tickets are expensive and math homework is important. Come on, we’re students here. If your school has a pro-life club that will sponsor a road trip to Washington, great, but on campuses where the pro-life culture is less strong, we’re left to our own devices. Not everybody has the means to make it to the official march. But your participation is just as important-and arguably more so-at small rallies. Here are four reasons to attend (or start) your own National Pro-Life March next year.
1) Think globally, act locally
Salt Lake’s National Pro-Life March doubled as a diaper drive, raising funds and materials for a nearby pregnancy resource center. Donations went to help mothers and children in our own communities. Of course, you can donate to national pro-life charities with the click of a button, but it’s more rewarding to hand over gifts you know will benefit local mothers.
2) Keep up with local laws
Marches for Life usually consist of two parts: the March itself, and an informative session before or after where pro-life speakers address marchers. You’ll hear stories from local experts in the pro-life world and learn about abortion issues in your home state. At Salt Lake’s March, I learned that Utah is considering a bill which would require abortion providers to inform patients about the possibility of abortion pill reversal. Attendees were instructed on citizen advocacy tactics they could take to help this law pass. Local Marches educate and empower citizens to combat abortion on the home front.
3) Make news in your own backyard
If Utah hadn’t held their own National Pro-Life March, Utah media coverage of the day probably wouldn’t have extended beyond, “Hey, look, our girl Mia Love gave a speech today. Good for her.” And most states don’t have a representative appearing at the DC National Pro-Life March. National news usually has consequences for the entire country, but it’s still something that happens “back in Washington”. Hometown marches make it relevant. Get pro-life news featured in your local papers.
4) Make Friends You Can Take Home
Finally, a National Pro-Life March is the perfect space to meet like minded people. My favorite part of the day was hearing stories from the women who marched alongside me. I was struck by their raw honesty and feminine solidarity. The question “What brought you here?” yields surprising results. I watched women who had met only minutes ago shared personal stories of miscarriages and childhood abuse when describing how protecting unborn lives became important to them. I made a friend who taught me how to shout messages of love in response to the hissers and booers we passed in the streets. And these are women I get to see again.
The Washington, D.C. National Pro-Life March is the crowning pro-life event of the year. I hope one day I’ll be able to make it back East to join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of women, children, and men raising their voices for the unborn.
But until then, I have work to do at home.