Community members march on, backed by science

On Thursday, January 17th, hundreds of members of the Notre Dame community boarded 16 buses and drove over twelve hours to Washington D.C. for the 46th annual March for Life. Notre Dame Right to Life, campus’ largest student organization, with support from the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, was able to send the contingent of 800 students, faculty, and staff from the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross community, to march alongside hundred of thousands more.

“It’s not a glamorous trip, and it especially wasn’t so this year given our quick turnaround back to campus,” said NDRTL Vice President for Communications and ND Senior Matthew Connell. “This just goes to show the dedication to the cause among so many members of the Notre Dame community.”

Students spent Thursday evening on the bus before unloading and heading to Mass at St. Agnes Parish, a long-time host parish for the club. University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, presided for the Mass. The church was filled to capacity as students gathered to pray for respect for the dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death. In his homily, Fr. Jenkins encouraged the group to remember that it is love that is at the heart of the pro-life movement: “for the unborn, for their mothers, and even for those who oppose us.”

There is a certain power in consistency. The large crowds in Washington D.C. demonstrate this truth time and time again. “Attending the March for Life made me realize that being pro-life is not a dying ideology,” said first year student and first-time marcher Francie Shaft, “it is a stance that young people hold and are willing to stand up for.”

Organizers made it clear that the event would go on even under the government shutdown, and reminded the crowds that they would march every single year in which innocent lives were lost to abortion. This year’s rally featured many speakers from the pro-life movement, including Ben Shapiro (The Daily Wire), Abby Johnson (And Then There Were None), and Dr. Alveda King (Civil Rights for the Unborn). Speakers like Katrina Jackson (State Rep D-LA) emphasized that the pro-life movement should not be divided on any lines, whether those be by race, sex, political affiliation, religious, etc., but should stand together for life.

The theme of this year’s March was “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.” As medical and technological advancements progress, support for the pro-life cause has followed. Embryology demonstrates that life begins at the moment of fertilization, ultrasounds bring the face of the unborn child to light, and new fields like prenatal surgery treat the child in the womb as a patient. Science, they said, is on life’s side.

Young people were, as they have been, particularly present at this year’s March for Life. Universities and high schools from around the country sent students, many bearing signs proclaiming that “we are the pro-life generation”, to the nation’s capital, and as the few hundred thousand people filled the streets leading to the Supreme Court, an atmosphere of peace, joy, and hope was nearly palpable. Despite apparent social trends, the young people at the March for Life know that dignity is worth fighting for. A culture of life, where the dignity of every human being at every age and every stage, from conception to natural death, is being built. It is being built by the legislators that fight for life in Congress, by the volunteers and doctors serving women at pregnancy crisis centers, and it is being built in the hearts of every single person who allows the message of the March for Life to be heard by them and through them.

There is so much work to be done, and there may very well be much marching left to do. But as the hundreds from the Notre Dame community joined the hundreds of thousands of marchers in the streets of D.C. they offered a clear message: life is worth fighting for and ultimately, we trust that life will win.

Maggie Garnett is a first year student studying Theology and Constitutional Studies. She can be reached at