As a lifelong Democrat and nonviolent radical Catholic, I tend to feel dread when the National March for Life descends on DC. Even more so this year when the health care reform debate seems to have brought the most conservative, racist, and xenophobic elements of the pro-life movement to the front of the national debate. I see the busloads of mostly white, mostly Republican kids from expensive private Catholic institutions chaperoned by priests and nuns in their clerical collars and religious habits. It angers me that we never see them when the right-to-life in question is anyone's other than an unborn American baby's. You never see them at anti-war marches, you never see them defending the rights of immigrants...
A part of me just wants to sit home and say: If you are only going to defend SOME lives, if your only response to abortion is to criminalize it, why should I participate? I've had my fill of shrill anti-abortion rhetoric, grotesque photos of aborted fetuses, and overblown comparisons of abortion facilities to Nazi death camps. None of this is going to "take away the occasion for abortion", to modify the old Quaker saying about war.
However, January 22nd is an important day, abortion is an important life issue, and there are groups out there who will be participating who actually believe that the right to life doesn't end at birth. If you want to hook up with like-minded folks, here are some suggestions:
1. Consistent Life: This is what used to be known as the Seamless Garment of Life Network. They will have a banner and will be gathering between 11:30 AM and Noon in front of the Sculpture Garden, on Constitution Ave. NW near 7th Street (Metro: Archives). Pax Christi is a member of this group.
2. Democrats for Life of America: They will be gathering for breakfast from 10 am to 12 noon on January 22nd at the Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol, 550 C Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20024. (One block from the L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station). The breakfast costs $30, payable at the door, and will include remarks by Rep. Joe Donnelly (D, IN-2) on how elements of the Pregnant Women Support Act have been included in the health reform legislation (Senate version) and strategies for keeping them there during the upcoming reconciliation process. As long-time readers of this blog may recall, PWSA is a bill that attempted to address the abortion problem in a positive way through helping pregnant women so that they would have an added incentive to carry their pregnancies to term. Breakfast participants will then join the main March for Life as a contingent.
There may be more options and we welcome any suggestions submitted as commentary.
A CONSISTENT LIFE CREDO
We believe life is threatened in today’s world by war, abortion, economic injustice, racial violence, human oppression, euthanasia and the death penalty.
We believe in the protection of all life - minorities, the unborn, the condemned, the enemy, the elderly, the poor. We see no one group as less or more important than another group.
We understand that each of us, as participants and shapers of democracy, plays a role in the violence of the world, and we are complicit.
We believe that this protection of the vulnerable against violence can only come about through non-violence.