Today very well could be the last March for Life to topple the national abortion regime. The national abortion regime may crumble in the coming months when the Supreme Court hands down its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The great edifice of Roe and Doe and Casey may come tumbling down.
We understand fully that the fight then shifts to the states, where the fight actually began before the Supremes got their grubby hands on it.
What the pro-life Catholic progressives have never understood is that nothing can really change until Roe/Doe/Casey are struck down. This is why they have been so angry about the political focus of so much of the pro-life movement that focused on politics in order to have a proper president who would be inclined to nominate proper justices, and this could not happen until proper Senators were elected who would vote to support proper justices. These stars may have aligned. We shall see. We have been disappointed before.
As we wait to see the disposition of this evil regime on what may be the last March for Life, we must consider the men and women who brought us to this moment, the pantheon of pro-life heroes. This is necessarily a partial list, for there have been dozens of pro-life leaders and hundreds of thousands of pro-life soldiers.
Here are a few of the giants.
The New York Times credited Dr. Jack Willke with helping to “establish the modern anti-abortion movement.” Dr. Willke was one of the first presidents of the National Right to Life Committee, what was the preeminent pro-life group for many years. Dr. Willke and his wife, Barbara, who was always at his side, published “Handbook on Abortion,” which sold 1.5 million copies. In 2000, when the Supreme Court struck down Nebraska’s ban on partial birth abortion, Dr. Willke presciently called it the “high water mark for abortion.” Dr. Willke died in 2015.
When Mike Schwartz was 15, he became a member of the Sons of Thunder. Founded by Brent Bozell Sr. (our Brent Bozell’s remarkable father) and modeled after the Carlists of Spain, the group wore red berets and khaki uniforms emblazoned with the Sacred Heart. Young Mike was not allowed to join the group when it quixotically invaded an abortion clinic at the Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Even before Roe v. Wade, it was the first abortion clinic invasion in history.
Mike went on to serve in many important pro-life jobs; he worked for Paul Weyrich at the Free Congress Foundation, was Legislative Director for Concerned Women for America, and was eventually Chief of Staff for Senator Tom Coburn. Mike’s swan song was a confidential memo he delivered to pro-life leaders that became a blueprint for state and national efforts that have brought us to the brink of ending the national abortion regime. Mike died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2013.
A Benedictine monk, Fr. Paul Marx founded and ran the feistiest and most influential pro-life group of its time. Human Life International was at the very center of every pro-life fight in Washington, D.C. Fr. Marx traveled millions of miles around the world founding Human Life offices in 80+ countries, offices that still exist and work on the ground to change the abortion regimes that sprang up after Roe v. Wade. His book “The Death Peddlers: War on the Unborn” became one of the influential texts of the early pro-life movement. My own group, C-Fam, was founded with a three-year grant from Human Life International—Canada. Fr. Marx passed away in 2010.
Nellie Gray served in the federal government for many years in the Department of State and the Department of Labor while studying for a law degree at Georgetown University. When the Supreme Court imposed abortion on demand on all 50 states in 1973, Nellie got the idea to have a yearly march in Washington, D.C., to commemorate that darkest of days. The March for Life began in the freezing weather of January 22, 1974. It was a point of pride for the determined Gray that the march proceed every year on the very day Roe was handed down, no matter the weather, and even if that meant the march went off on a Wednesday rather than a more convenient Friday. She never relented. It has become the biggest annual protest march in the history of the United States. Nellie Gray died in 2012.
Joe Scheidler, a former Benedictine monk, laughed when he called himself a “racketeer for life.” Founder of the Pro-Life Action League out of Chicago, Scheidler was one of the most active and fearless pro-lifers in history. He was sued by the National Organization for Women for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) that was created to go after the Mafia. His case went to the Supreme Court three times, and he won. Joe and his team are credited with closing more than 100 abortion mills. The Godfather of the Pro-life Movement, Joe Scheidler, died last June.
One could go on and on about the giants of the pro-life movement, the people who kept this issue on the boil in the United States and around the world. Always remember, the day Roe was handed down, The New York Times announced that the issue had been settled. These folks and many like them, both living and dead, have ensured there has been no more unsettled issue in American history than the issue of the unborn child. The pro-life movement can take its place alongside the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War and the civil rights movement of the 20th Century.
And even if the Supreme Court goes sideways on the case before it now and the abortion regime goes on and on, the pro-life movement will not stop. It will never stop until it is settled. There are new pro-life giants even now bestriding our country and the world.