March for Life

It has become cliche to gripe about liberal bias in the media, true as it may remain.  But given the extraordinary amount of attention paid to the “Women’s March” last week, I could not help myself and was keen to see how much coverage the March for Life would receive.

The Washington Times compared media coverage of the Women’s March this year to the March for Life last year and found that the Women’s March received 129 times more coverage.  The major news networks combined to spend 1:15:18 talking about the Women’s March, but last year only one major network even mentioned the March for Life, and dedicated only 35 seconds (22 seconds of which covered a group of high school kids who got stuck in a blizzard on the way home).

Perhaps this is because the Women’s March drew so many more people than the March for Life?  The Women’s March drew an estimated 500,000 in Washington DC.  Certainly worthy of considerable media attention, particularly since as many as 2 million attended marches around the country.  And we are in a very interesting political moment, so lots of coverage is totally justified.  Add to this that Trump has said – and perhaps done – awful things about women, and the large demonstrations are obviously newsworthy.  (Though the scarcity of outcry – and even the willingness to victim blame – with respect to Bill Clinton’s history obviously raises questions of uneven treatment).

And the March for Life last year was much smaller, given that a blizzard dumped 2 feet on Washington and made travel very difficult (the March for Life, I suspect rather more than the Women’s March, depends on people bussing in from all over the country).  But in the previous 5 years, the March for Life has drawn between 400,000 and 650,000 people.  Not that anyone would know this, since it hardly gets mentioned in the media.  In fact, if you google largest ever marches on Washington, the March for Life is not even listed – despite the fact that marches with many fewer (200,000) make the list.

I have not been able to find a crowd estimate for the March for Life this year, though somehow every media outlet had ready crowd estimates for the Women’s March.  Most news stories simply report that “thousands” attended, which cannot be read other than as an intentional understatement.  One said the crowds appeared larger in recent years, suggesting that the event may have been larger than the D.C. Women’s March.

And media coverage was predictably uneven again this year.  On the day of the Women’s March, I counted 4 news stories at the top of the page on nbcnews.com, including it being the featured story all day.  Early stories gushed “as many as 200,000 were in attendance”, though later figures pushed that up to 500,000.  Stories continued for two more days.  So how much coverage of the March for Life?  On the day of the March, I saw one story on nbcnews.com, and you had to scroll down a bit to find it.

It should be noted that the Women’s March was not really a march for women, it was a march for some women of a particular political disposition – namely that who are aggressively pro-abortion.  Pro-life feminists were not allowed to participate.  The rigidness and fanaticism of pro abortion feminism was even mocked by Saturday Night Live (hardly a conservative outfit) in their news segment last weekend.

So did the radically pro-abortion Women’s March represent American women?  Not really.  According to a Real Clear Politics article, 77% of American women support limiting abortion to the first trimester or earlier (higher % than men).  83% of women support banning international funding of abortion (same as men).  61% of women think it is important to restrict abortion in some way (higher percentage than men).  59% of American women say that abortion is morally wrong.  A large majority of men and women who say they are “pro-choice” actually support restrictions on abortion.  And nearly half of women (46%) identify as “pro-life”.  So the Women’s March – whose leadership actively excluded and prohibited pro-life feminists from marching with them –  excluded 46% of women.  Hardly, then, a march representing [all] women.  In fact, the abortion views of the leadership of the march are wildly out of step with the overwhelming majority of women in America.

60% of American women call themselves “feminists”, though it is interesting that older women are more likely to identify as “feminist” than younger women (69% of women 50-54 vs 51% of women 35-49).  Perhaps this is because younger women realize, as the SNL skit noted, that there are “levels to this” and that some levels of it are pretty kooky.  Of course a much larger number of women are feminists in the sense of wanting equal rights for women (equal pay, etc), but they do not assume the label “feminist” because of the perceived (and often real) radical gender and abortion politics one finds among “feminist” leaders.  All of this to say – the feminists leaders speaking at the Women’s March, like Cecile Richards and Gloria Steinem – are out of touch with many self-proclaimed feminists and wildly out of touch with most women.

Finally, not a few observant writers – including many on the left – have noted that the Women’s March was a very white affair, whereas the pro-life movement is far more diverse.  Latino Americans and African Americans are generally more opposed to abortion than the rest of the American population.  Most promising is that younger people are more likely to support abortion restrictions and to identify as pro life.  Rather than millennials being more progressive on abortion than their parents (as one might expect), they are more conservative on almost every measure (how many identify as pro-life, how many support restrictions on abortion, etc). It is also noteworthy that pro-life millennial are less likely to be religious than are older pro-lifers.  All of this, combined with other demographic shifts, suggests that the pro-life movement of the future will be more diverse, younger and also more secular.

But the most relevant number in this debate is 58 million.  That is the number of children who have been killed in the womb since Roe v Wade.  58 million people who, were they allowed to come to term, would have lived a life every bit as human as yours or mine.  If a society is judged by how well it defended those who were most innocent and defenseless, America will not be judged well.  Even if one might wish to argue that abortion is at times a justified evil, many signs at the Women’s March suggested a shocking callousness to the moral gravity of ending a human life.  Some signs proudly joked about abortion.  Most signs were all about “me” – “my body, my choice” individual rights type stuff.  But this forgets that when a man and women come together and a child is produced, it is not all about you.  There is another human life on the scene.  Unfortunately, Americans are not having this serious conversation, and the media is not doing its part to help foster it.

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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
This entry was posted in Catholic thought/religion/culture, Polis (politics, culture), USU Catholic Newman Center. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to March for Life

  1. ~J says:

    Very interesting post!

    After hearing about pro-life women being excluded from the Women’s March and seeing the irony of an “inclusive” march excluding a large group of women, I wanted to see exactly how large of a group of women were excluded. To my surprise, I found essentially the same information which you have outline. My perception was that there existed a few small factions of pro-life women attempting to keep the embers of their values alive. These small numbers could be seen as a fringe group to the Women’s March and excluded on the grounds that they are not reflective of the host of women in the country. The reality is quite contrary: pro-life values are the majority of the country. (I found the same 59% statistic through PEW). Rather than being a whimper in the last days of a lost culture/intellectual war, the Pro-Life March stands as a rejection of the narrative (though I hate that word) that pro-life values are the remnants of some unenlightened superstition.

    When Trump was (unfortunately) elected, there was a graph floating through social media showing that if only Millennials voted this election, the U.S. would be overwhelmingly blue/liberal. This implies that the U.S. will be nearly exclusively blue/liberal in the years to come. I am suspicious of the graph and its implications for many reasons, but one comes my students. I have found that they are extremely thirsty for deep, candid conversations about political happenings. They are very tired of the empty sloganeering that they see on media, or the backlash they experience from their loudest peers when they attempt evenhanded conversations between themselves. Of course there is a lot of good in the Women’s March, because “I’m not a dick”, but “there are levels to this”. When we discuss the levels which they agree or disagree with in modern political arguments (abortion topics included), a majority of my students ground their beliefs in some version of conservative ideals. They are usually surprised to learn that their position is a conservative one as well.

    Although this is all anecdotal, my experience suggests to me that the graph mentioned before is more a hopeful image for some, and importantly out of touch with how young adults view modern liberals. Even against the misrepresentation of their (un)popularity by media, I believe that young conservatives and pro-life women will continue to surprise many as their numbers refuse to fall.

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