Marching on Washington, Again
The president of the March for Life talks about abortion 41 years after Roe
Jeanne Monahan (inset) and the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday marks 41 years since the Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout pregnancy in the United States. This coming week, Americans will, for the 40th time, march on Washington both in protest of the 1973 rulings and in celebration of human life. Jeanne Monahan is the president of the March for Life and talks with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about life, women, freedom, and the march.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s the point of marching year after year? It’s been 41 years since Roe. Aren’t you tired of protesting?

JEANNE MONAHAN: No sacrifice is too big when we are talking about the human-rights abuse of today, abortion. Every single person deserves life, and women, too, ideally should live in a culture where abortion is not falsely promoted as something good. We cannot stop marching while this human-rights abuse continues and a large portion of Americans (1.21 million annually) are denied the most basic of human rights, the right to life.

LOPEZ: Shouldn’t a young woman like yourself be concerned about her maximum freedom? If it weren’t for Roe, would choice be curtailed?

MONAHAN: Freedom is the ability to choose that which is good. The biggest threats to my freedom these days are in the form of health care, where I am being forced against my will to choose things that defy my conscience.

The idea that a right to abortion begets a woman’s freedom is just plain false. I have met so many women who deeply regret their abortions. In fact, it may even be appropriate to say that grief over abortion can be a form of slavery — the antithesis of freedom. To these women I say that there is always hope and healing and the real possibility of happier tomorrows. The Roe decision denies the most basic of all human freedoms and rights, the right to life.

LOPEZ: How would you like politicians to think about women’s health and freedom?

MONAHAN: Real freedom, again, is the freedom to choose that which is good. Real freedom does not coerce families into health care that defies their consciences and belief systems. Legislators should protect such freedoms. The founding of America lies in such freedoms, which, until now, have been protected. These basic protections and freedoms are slowly whittling away under the current health-care law.

Another important point is that access to abortion is not health care. It is the taking of life, not the preserving of it.

LOPEZ: What do roses have to do with any of this?

MONAHAN: In the early days of the March for Life, and up until security requirements on Capitol Hill stopped the effort, young marchers would personally deliver red roses to legislators in their Hill offices. The roses symbolized the lives of the unborn and were also meant to encourage members to support policies that protected and built a culture of life.

There is a lot to a red rose. Red is a symbol of mourning; we are saddened and always remember the 55 million unique American lives that have been lost to abortion in the past 41 years. Yet a red rose is also a sign of life and love. Our new logo revamps the red rose that has been the symbol of the March for Life for these past 41 years. We believe it conveys life, love, and hope.

LOPEZ: What’s the significance of the new March for Life logo?

MONAHAN: It is our hope that the March for Life logo bridges old and new aspects of our organization and event. The new logo includes a rose with a mother and child within. The march is about mothers and babies. Abortion takes the life of a beautiful baby and hurts the mother — physically, psychologically.

LOPEZ: How many do you expect?

MONAHAN: We expect hundreds of thousands, as have participated for the last many years. We anticipate again that the majority of marchers will be young people. This is such a grassroots and organic event that we don’t have sign-up lists or a check-in process. We don’t advertise the March for Life; they just come. People want their voices heard on this most critical issue!