The Changing Face of the Pro-Life Movement

Republicans, Democrats, feminists and atheists are all getting on board to build a culture of life.

Participants in the March for Marriage outside the Supreme Court building in Washington.
Participants in the March for Marriage outside the Supreme Court building in Washington. (photo: 2014 CNA/Addie Mena)

WASHINGTON — This isn’t your father’s pro-life movement. A group of young activists is challenging the pro-life stereotype so as to broaden its audience, a move it sees as necessary to achieve a “culture of life.”

“We’re seeing more and more nontraditional pro-lifers,” explained Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal, the leader of the newly minted Pro-Life Allies. This coalition of groups currently includes Democrats, Republicans, feminists, secularists and atheists who all agree on one thing — the unborn child in the womb must be protected.

“Our movement is not one that is solely religious or political. It is a movement for human rights,” Murphy stated at the group’s press conference shortly before the 2015 March for Life. Defying their stereotype of the pro-life movement, some of the largely female crowd sported died-blue hair and hot-pink sun glasses.

A short walk away, the official March for Life stage area would be packed with largely Republican politicians and Christian religious leaders. Estimates of the crowd in attendance at the march were above 200,000. High schoolers, college students, seminarians and religious brothers and sisters showed up in droves.

Yet rightly or wrongly, the newborn coalition claims that it has been overlooked in a movement that is predominantly Christian and politically conservative. And it says the movement needs a broader coalition to win over the American public.

“You could outlaw abortion with Republicans alone or Christians alone, but you couldn’t create a culture of life without the support of every human being,” Murphy stated. “Peace cannot be attained by mere factions.”

Mary Fesaldon, a freshman at The Catholic University of America, held a New Wave Feminists sign proclaiming to be “pro-woman,” “pro-education” and “pro-life.”

“The secular argument is important because that’s how you talk to people,” she insisted, saying Christianity alone will not reach a secular audience. “We have science to back us in the pro-life movement that we don’t take advantage of enough.”

For her, the “new wave” feminism is not about choice, but a return to “equality.” Women today do not have “equality of information,” but are cajoled into believing that abortion is the only option for an unwanted pregnancy, she said.

The defense of life is not a single issue, insisted the president of Consistent Life, Bill Samuel. In addition to abortion, he said, it includes the topics of war, the death penalty, racism and poverty.

“It’s all got to be tied together,” he told CNA. “The dignity of every life is important.”

“If we want to end abortion, we’re going to need everyone’s help,” Murphy emphasized. “It’s not going to be a partisan effort alone. It will not be won solely by the Catholics or the evangelicals.”