Why We March for Life

Before God, differences in rank, race, beauty, intelligence, humor, talent, health, and everything else the world values fade in comparison to the equal dignity inherent in each human being.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone leads more than 120 pro-life pilgrims for the first monthly Mass for life and rosary walk to pray in front of a soon-to-open flagship Planned Parenthood facility on Jan. 9, 2021.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone leads more than 120 pro-life pilgrims for the first monthly Mass for life and rosary walk to pray in front of a soon-to-open flagship Planned Parenthood facility on Jan. 9, 2021. (photo: Dennis Callahan / Archdiocese of San Francisco)

“Equality.”  It’s a deeply ingrained American ideal and even a national passion. How ironic, then, that since the COVID-19 pandemic struck almost a year ago now, governments have taken it upon themselves to decide who is essential, and therefore by contrast, who is dispensable.  

“Essential worker” and “essential service” are categories that are deeply alien to our ideals, but for the first time in the history of our country the government is deciding which services – and therefore which workers – are essential to society.  Everyone else loses out.  So, for example, we’ve watched governments this past year decide that liquor stores are more important than worship, and issue edicts that ruin the lives and livelihoods of hard-working people with no clear scientific data to back it up.

“Follow the science” is another cliché we hear bandied about quite a bit nowadays.  It’s curious, though, how both science and equality are abandoned when they become inconvenient. But the most blatant example of denying the science to endorse inequality is abortion. It is science, not faith, that teaches us that human life begins at conception.  

The pro-life community gathers in San Francisco for the West Coast Walk for Life on January 22, 2021.
The pro-life community gathers in San Francisco for the West Coast Walk for Life on January 22, 2021.(Photo: Dennis Callahan)

There is no scientific justification for failing to recognize that an unborn child is a human life, and therefore no legal, much less moral, justification for denying that unborn child’s equal human dignity.  And yet, since so many politicians rely on the favorable ratings and donations of abortion proponents, they continue to endorse policies that deny not only science and equality, but also real choice to women in crisis pregnancies. This insures that abortion remains the go-to solution, thus bolstering sales for the abortion industry. So follow the money: what this is really about is money, power and prestige.

How often those of us in pastoral ministry have heard women say, “I didn’t want to go through with it, but I felt like I had no choice.” Indeed, experience shows that when women are given real choice, that is, both the practical and moral support they need during challenging pregnancies, including information (e.g., about fetal development and simply what the other options are), the vast majority of women choose life, not death.

If equality means anything, it means treating each human life as equally valued, and not creating what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture,” where some lives matter more than others – and that includes babies in the womb and their mothers who are searching for life-giving solutions. Faith gives us the anchor to see through apparent differences in human usefulness or costliness to affirm that none of us is more essential than any of the rest of us. 

Pro-life marchers take part in the West Coast Walk for Life on January 22, 2021 in San Francisco.
Pro-life marchers take part in the West Coast Walk for Life on January 22, 2021 in San Francisco.(Photo: Dennis Callahan)Dennis Callahan 2020

However often we as a nation fail to live up to these core ideals, the words of the Declaration of Independence call us back:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Our founding document declares that these principles are self-evident and unalienable: that is, fundamental human rights come from God, not from government.  They are inherent and apply to each of us equally, not just to special classes favored by the government.  And the order of listing here is very deliberate: the right to life is the foundation, for if that is removed, all other rights evaporate a fortiori.

That is why, on Jan. 29, once again Americans will come together for the March for Life in Washington, D.C., albeit this year virtually.  Others will join, or have joined, in one of 25 sister marches or walks or car parades for life throughout the United States. This is why I myself walked with the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco on Jan. 23.

Before God, differences in rank, race, beauty, intelligence, humor, talent, health, and everything else the world values fade in comparison to the equal dignity inherent in each human being.  

And so this January once again we march.


Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone serves as the Archbishop of San Francisco. 

Bela Lugosi portrays the famous vampire in this screenshot from the trailer for ‘Dracula’ (1931)

The King of Horror Movies and Catholic Faith and Culture (Sept. 18)

Culture is key in forming hearts and minds. And Catholics well formed in both their profession and their faith certainly can impact culture for the good. We can all agree we need more of that today. One writer who is always keen on highlighting the intersection of faith and culture is the National Catholic Register’s UK correspondent, K.V. Turley, and he has just released his first novel. He joins us here on Register Radio. And then, we talk with Joan Desmond about the so-called “woke revolution” taking place even in some Catholics schools, in modern medicine, and again in culture.