Liz Everett, Campus Editor
This January 22 marks the 40th annual March for Life in Washington, DC, an annual protest of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in the United States. The University of Notre Dame has sent a large contingent of students and faculty the past several years, filling multiple buses for trips of varying length. This year, 580 students signed up to attend the March, 442 of whom are Notre Dame students, with the rest from Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. The Alumni Association is hosting a reception this year for any alumni or students 21 and older.
When asked in an anonymous survey why they were attending the March this year, Notre Dame students had a variety of things to say. Several students affirmed the dignity of human life at all stages, and said they wanted to support this belief in a physical way. Almost all of the student responders had attended the March for Life before, with numbers ranging from one previous trip to 7.
“I believe in the Pro Life cause,” one student wrote. “Nothing is more important than the gift of our lives. It is by God’s grace that we came into this world, and all life needs to be defended. It is especially important to protect the defenseless such as the unborn and those at the end of his or her life.”
Another student wrote that it is important “to stand in community for what I believe in. I attend the March for Life because every voice matters in the fight for those who are unable to speak for themselves.”
“[I march] in order to be a part of such a large event, an event that stands for something I really believe in,” a third student shared. “Also because for me it is a really unique opportunity, one that I do not believe I will have later in life.”
Not all of the survey responses were from students who were attending the 2014 March for Life. One respondent wrote, “I’m not going this year. I think that the March, while it has good intentions, should consider funneling some of the money people spend on traveling down to DC on other causes that prevent abortion. Programs that try to prevent unwanted pregnancies by speaking with underprivileged youths about self-esteem and self-worth, programs that devote themselves to showing women they have another choice besides abortion—adoption, etc.—and programs that go out of their way to let pregnant women know that they are loved and not alone—that someone will be there to show them care and concern as they go through with their pregnancy.”
In a similar vein, 25 percent of the responders believed that the March was not effective at all in terms of political or social change. The majority believed it was somewhat effective, with one person commenting, “The March is not necessarily effective in terms of political change, but is important in building momentum and encouragement within the movement.”
The final question the students were asked to reflect upon was what other ways they supported and defended life throughout the year, excluding attendance at the March for Life. The majority of respondents answered that they attended various other pro-life activities throughout the year, such as lectures, volunteer work, saying a Rosary for Life or participating in the Notre Dame Right to Life Club. Overall, the survey reveals a deeper commitment to promoting the dignity of life more than one special day a year.
Liz Everett is a senior PLS and English major. This is her eighth year on the March for Life. Contact her at email@example.com.