March for Life is the largest gathering of anti-abortion advocates in the United States. March for Life was founded in 1974 by extremist Nellie Gray, who organized a march on Washington in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Eventually, Gray, the group’s sole employee, turned the march into an annual event for the anti-abortion movement. While the exact size of the march is unclear, Associated Press reported that it was attended by “hundreds of thousands” a year, has become a required event for every Republican president since Reagan and has welcomed anti-abortion zealots who previously incited violence.
March for Life uses its political power to help set legislative agendas, often teaming up with radical anti-abortion groups such as Family Research Council, Focus On The Family and Eagle Forum to exert influence on politicians by endorsing legislation, lobbying and energizing its anti-abortion base. March for Life has inspired similar marches in at least 20 nations worldwide, expanding its reach beyond Washington D.C.
After being urged to cancel the event, March for Life refused to cancel its 1995 yearly march after sustained anti-abortion violence.
March for Life 1985 came after a year marked by anti-abortion violence — 25 abortion clinic bombings and fires and four DC area abortion clinics received bomb threats the weekend before the march.
March for Life 1985 followed a year that featured 25 bomb attacks and fires at abortion clinics — including two DC area clinics that received bomb threats four days before the march.
“Cosentino will be among busloads of demonstrators converging on the capital for the annual March for Life on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The march, like hundreds of demonstrations across the country on both sides of the emotion-ridden issue, is drawing added attention this year in the wake of intensifying attacks on abortion clinics. The 12th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision has provoked unease and fear in the wake of 25 bomb attacks and fires at abortion-related facilities from Everett, Wash., to Pensacola, Fla., since the last march…Two Washington facilities were the target of bomb threats Friday, and a Huntsville, Ala., clinic was evacuated after a bomb threat near the start of a vigil.” [Washington Post, 1/20/85]
The 1995 March for Life went on as planned, even after several shootings at abortion clinics — and groups who openly endorsed violence attended.
March for Life 1995 was held following “shooting sprees” at abortion clinics…
“Shooting sprees at abortion clinics in Brookline, Mass., and Norfolk, Va., which left two people dead and five others wounded, have added a new level of scrutiny and tension to today’s annual March for Life…Some extremist groups that either condone or refuse to condemn the violence are joining in the protests here. On Sunday, the actual anniversary of the ruling, President Clinton was the target of militant protesters who gathered at his church. But Clinton evaded them as he attended a different church in downtown Washington.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/95]
… Despite pressure to cancel the event to “prevent more violence,” March for Life Founder Nellie Gray said in response, “the babies need us and the mothers need us.”
“Nellie Gray, organizer of Monday’s ‘March for Life,’ said some had urged her to cancel the event to cool emotions and prevent more violence at clinics that provide abortions. ‘Now you know I wasn’t going to cancel this,’ she told the rally, sparking cheers. ‘The babies need us and the mothers need us.’” [Associated Press, 1/24/95]
The American Coalition Of Life Activists attended March for Life 1995 after it signed a petition supporting violence to advance an anti-abortion agenda, which was initially started by an activist who went on to murder an abortion provider.
“The protesters were from the American Coalition of Life Activists, a group dominated by extremists who believe violence committed to stop abortion is justifiable. Several of the group’s leaders had signed a petition endorsing ‘justifiable homicide.’ That petition was circulated last year by Paul Hill, who was later convicted of the July killing of a doctor and his escort in Pensacola, Fla.” [Los Angeles Times 1/23/95]
March for Life allowed Randall Terry, who founded the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue — whose rhetoric has enabled violence — to speak during the 2000 March.
Randall Terry addressed March for Life in 2000. [March for Life Rally, C-Span, 1/24/00, 12:17]
Randall Terry founded the extremist anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which organized massive protests to block the entrances to abortion facilities that often resulted in arrests.
“Randall Terry founded Operation Rescue in 1988, and the group began organizing massive protests in front of women’s clinics shortly thereafter. The group continued these sidewalk demonstrations throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. An example of this is the 1991 ‘Summer of Mercy’ blockades in Kansas. During this seven-week protest, police made 2,600 arrests involving 1,500 protestors.” [Montana Human Rights, Network 4/14/08]
Montana Human Rights Network: The co-founder of Operation Rescue signed a petition that justified lethal force “for the purpose of protecting the lives of unborn children.” [Montana Human Rights Network, 4/14/08]
Terry worked for a group that claimed civil law should be identical to biblical law.
“Terry has also served as leadership for the Coalition on Revival. Started in 1982, the group pushes Christian Reconstruction. Reconstruction believes civil law should be identical to Biblical law. The group believes that no government can exist separate from God, and Christians must hold office to push religious doctrine. Terry has called for a theocratic state founded on the Ten Commandments and a ‘culture based on Biblical Law.’” [Montana Human Rights Network, 4/14/08]
Operation Rescue leaders echoed calls for violence in its rhetoric, including endorsing “justifiable homicide” of abortion providers, with one activist claiming “it is your God-given right to destroy any…doctor who willingly [slaughters] innocent children…”
“The call to violence has never been far from Operation Rescue. Terry began telling people in 1995 to ‘take up the sword’ and ‘overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them.’ Joe Foreman, one of the co-founders of Operation Rescue, signed a petition saying, ‘The use of lethal force is justified if it is carried out for the purpose of protecting the lives of unborn children.’ Another Operation activist said, ‘It is your God-given right to destroy any man or woman calling themselves doctors who willingly slaughter innocent children.’” Montana Human Rights Network, 4/14/08]
… And one violent anti-abortion activist said that the assassination of an abortion provider was a “rational way” to follow Operation Rescue’s teachings.
“Michael Bray masterminded a series of bombings in 1984. His targets were abortion providers and choice groups. Following the assassination of Dr. David Gunn in 1993, Bray approvingly said it was a ‘rational way of following the Operation Rescue dictum: ‘If you believe abortion is murder, then act like it.’” [Montana Human Rights Network, 4/14/08]
James Kopp, who was arrested for murdering an abortion provider, was chosen by Randall Terry to act as Operation Rescue’s liaison to Catholics.
“Mr. Terry quickly adopted him as a liaison to the Catholic wing of the protest movement and a key aide.” [New York, Times 3/20/01]
March for Life and its founder Nellie Gray hold extremist, unyielding anti-abortion views and goals.
March for Life’s goals are governed by its extreme “life principles,” which call for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
March for Life’s ideology and policy goals rest on its “life principles.”
“Soon after that first March in 1974, it became apparent that congressional protection for the unborn was not on the horizon. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Nellie decided that the MARCH FOR LIFE, rather than the originally anticipated one-time event, would instead be held every year until Roe v. Wade was overturned. That year, the March for Life became incorporated as an action-oriented non-profit organization, and the ‘Life Principles’ were developed as the underlying guideline of the organization.” [Marchforlife.org Accessed, 4/12/19]
The “life principles” call for a constitutional amendment that defines life as beginning at fertilization and bans abortion.
“With these Life Principles in mind, the March for Life is the collective effort of grassroots prolife Americans to assure that our state and federal laws shall protect the right to life of each human in existence at fertilization. An important step is adoption of a Mandatory Human Life Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Such an amendment would be simple and require that individuals and society provide protection for the right to life of each human in existence at fertilization. It would require that State laws conform to the Constitution and provide the same protection. Thus, the Life Principles provide guidance and purpose to the grassroots prolife volunteers in our efforts to be effective through our education and action programs.” [MarchForLife.org Accessed, 4/22/19]
Nellie Gray supported a total abortion ban, referred to abortion as murder and frequently compared abortion to the Holocaust.
Gray believed all abortion was murder and supported a total abortion ban.
“A Roman Catholic, Ms. Gray believed that life began at fertilization, and that abortion was murder and not acceptable for any reason: not for rape or incest, for severe abnormalities in the fetus or to save the woman’s life.” [New York Times, 8/16/12]
Nellie Gray: “we shall unify and stop the evil of abortion because it is evil.” [New York Times, 8/16/12]
Nellie Gray: “Well, first of all there should be no abortions, period, in our country because it’s a homicide.” [PBS NewsHour, 6/15/77]
Gray told the press that the March for Life exists “So the world will continue to know…there is a strong pro-life voice…to stop this American holocaust.”
“’March for Life’ organizer Nellie Gray said the ”real hard news” about Friday’s demonstration ”is that thousands of pro-lifers continue to make an annual witness for life … (so) the world will continue to know that abortion is an abomination and that there is a strong pro-life voice of the citizenry to stop this American holocaust.’” [United Press International, 1/21/1982]
Gray said that abortion was at odds with civil rights and prosecuting the Nazis for crimes against humanity.
“‘It was such a shock to think that anyone would kill an innocent human being,’ she told a television interviewer. To allow abortion, she said, was out of character for a nation that had recently passed civil rights laws and had helped at the Nuremberg trials to convict Nazis of crimes against humanity.” [New York Times, 8/16/12]
Gray said that if the U.S. applied the “principles” of the Nuremberg trials, abortions would end “overnight.”
“In that same interview, she said that the U.S. had forgotten the ‘principles’ of the Nuremberg Trials by allowing abortion. ‘If we applied the same principles to ourselves, we would stop abortion overnight,’ she said.” [Heavy, 1/26/17]
March for Life’s founder opposed contraception and said it made teenagers “fodder for the abortion mills.”
Gray opposed birth control because it made teenagers “fodder for the abortion mills.”
“Ms. Gray believed that recommending birth control encouraged teenagers to have sex and made them ‘fodder for the abortion mills,’ as she put it.” [New York Times, 8/16/12]
Gray rescinded an award from an anti-abortion surgeon general because he promoted condom usage and advocated for sex education during the AIDS epidemic.
“In 1987 she rescinded an award that her group had given to Dr. C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, because she disapproved of his explicit talk about sex and his advocating the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.” [New, York Times 8/16/12]
Gray was infamous for refusing to try to find common ground with those who promoted birth control, and once said “pro-life people will not negotiate with baby-killers.”
“She bent for no one. In 1979, when Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women, suggested that groups for and against legal abortion should meet and try to find common ground, like promoting birth control, Ms. Gray refused, saying, ”Pro-life people will not negotiate with baby killers.” [New York Times, 8/16/12]
March for Life uses its close ties to extremist anti-LGBTQ and hate groups to further its political agenda.
The current presidents of March for Life and March for Life Action both previously worked at the anti-LBGTQ hate group Family Research Council.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini served as the director for the Center Of Human Dignity at Family Research Council immediately before joining March for Life as its president. [ProCon, Accessed 4/23/19]
March for Life Action President Tom McClusky worked at Family Research Council immediately before working at March for Life. [LinkedIn, Accessed 4/23/19]
- Family Research Council has received designation as a hate group for its anti LBGTQ views.
“The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people as the organization battles against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.” [SLPC.org Accessed, 4/22/19]
March for Life organizers cited research from a “fringe anti-LBGTQ hate group” to justify its anti-abortion views in 2019.
March for Life Organizers cited research by a Southern Poverty Law Center-recognized hate group to claim that scientific evidence supports an anti-abortion worldview.
“Anti-choice activists convened in Washington, D.C., today at the annual March for Life protest that condemns access to abortion services…The Washington Post reports that the organizers used two ‘scientific papers’ to bolster their claim that zygotes are living beings; one was written by an anti-abortion group, and the other came from the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative advocacy group that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as ‘a fringe anti-LGBT hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians.’’ [The Cut, 1/18/19]
March for Life joined a coalition with right-wing extremists to exert influence on the Republican Party and to oppose the creation of a national women’s history museum.
March for Life joined a Family Research Council coalition with Eagle Forum members to ensure “the Republican’s Party’s platform remains a solidly conservative document.”
“FRC Action reported the formation of a coalition designed to ensure the Republican Party’s platform remains a solidly conservative document. According to a media release, FRC Action will be joined in Cleveland by Concerned Women for America, LAC, March for Life, and a consortium of Eagle Forum representatives along with platform delegates including Len Munsil (Arizona); Carolyn McLarty (Oklahoma); and David Barton (Texas).” [Professional Services Close-Up, 6/17/16]
- Eagle Forum was founded as a vessel for right-wing extremist Phyllis Schlafly, who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment and believed a woman could not be raped by her husband.
“Growing out of Phyllis Schlafly’s efforts to mobilize opposition to stop ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, the Eagle Forum was founded in 1972 and quickly blossomed into one of the most influential Religious Right organizations in history. Schlafly was infamous for taking hard-line stands on political and cultural issues that were often extreme even by Religious Right standards, such as her insistence that it was impossible for husbands to rape their wives.” [Right Wing Watch Accessed, 4/22/19]
March for Life partnered with right-wing groups, including Eagle Forum, The Heritage Foundation and the American Family Association to oppose the creation of a national women’s history museum
“A group of Religious Right organizations have taken a sudden interest in curbing government spending on national parks and public lands…all in the interest of stopping the creation of a museum dedicated to American women’s history…In a letter to members of the House last week, representatives of Concerned Women for America (CWA), Heritage Action, Eagle Forum, March for Life, and the American Family Association signed on to a letter with a handful of ‘small government’ groups that oppose the creation of more public lands, urging lawmakers to strip the lands package from the defense bill.” [US Official News, 12/10/14]
- The American Family Association is a recognized hate group for its anti-LGBTQ views.
“Initially founded as the National Federation for Decency, the American Family Association (AFA) originally focused on what it considered indecent television programming and pornography. The AFA says it promotes ‘traditional moral values’ in media. A large part of that work involves ‘combating the homosexual agenda’ through various means, including publicizing companies that have pro-gay policies and organizing boycotts against them. The AFA has a variety of outlets to disseminate its message, including the American Family Radio Network, its online OneNewsNow and the monthly AFA Journal. In early 2011, the AFA claimed more than 2 million online supporters and 180,000 subscribers to its Journal.” [SLPC.org Accessed, 4/22/19]
- The Heritage Foundation is a powerful right-wing think tank that opposes LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, economic justice and religious pluralism.
“The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank that claims to be ‘the most influentiall conservative group in America.’ Its mission is to ‘formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.’ The policies promoted by the Heritage Foundation pose threats to LGBTQ and reproductive rights, economic justice, and religious pluralism.” [Political Research Associates, 6/22/18]
March for Life provides a space for extremists to mobilize and organize.
March for Life hosted the extremist group Human Life International for a 1985 event.
Human Life International (HLI) members held a “funeral service” for “‘18 million unborn victims of abortion’” at the 1985 March for Life.
“Cosentino will be among busloads of demonstrators converging on the capital for the annual March for Lifeon the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The march, like hundreds of demonstrations across the country on both sides of the emotion-ridden issue, is drawing added attention this year in the wake of intensifying attacks on abortion clinics…There, members of several antiabortion groups, including Harry Hand of the Maryland Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project and John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe of Human Life International in the District, plan to conduct a funeral service for ‘18 million unborn victims of abortion.’” [Washington Post, 1/20/85]
- HLI stated that abortion is homicide and “a great moral and social evil.”
“On abortion, HLI states: ‘Human life begins at the instant of conception. The willful taking of innocent human life by any means constitutes homicide and is a great moral and social evil.’” [Catholics For Choice Report Page 17, Accessed 4/02/19]
- HLI claimed there are “deep” similarities between the Holocaust and abortion.
“The similarities between the Nazi and abortion Holocausts go far deeper than a huge body count. There are many points of similarity between the Holocausts: Deceptive language, Ideology formed by doctors, Speed of the murders, Philosophical justification” [HLI.org, Accessed 4/02/19]
- HLI Founder Paul Marx said contraception “is a pervasive, metastasizing moral cancer…[that is] intrinsically evil,” and that using it causes “venereal disease” and AIDS.
“As the founder of HLI and creator of its ideology, Marx asserted that contraception ‘is a pervasive, metastasizing moral cancer that destroys the church, the family, the youth, and the nation … it engenders runaway VD (think of AIDS!); it has no redeeming features whatsoever, being intrinsically evil or dishonest.’” [Catholics For Choice Report Page 17, Accessed 4/02/19]
In 1986 March for Life invited the radical CEO of anti-abortion group American Life League.
The CEO of American Life League met Reagan during March for Life 1986 and falsely told the press that the president said he would consider pardoning individuals jailed for bombing abortion clinics.
“The anti-abortion demonstrators, which police estimated to number about 37,000, marched from the Ellipse behind the White House to the Supreme Court after President Reagan addressed them at noon by a telephone hookup. The crowd was about half the size of last year’s ‘March for Life.’…Paul Brown, chief executive officer of the American Life League and a member of the group to visit with Reagan, contended that the president had said he would consider pardons for people jailed for bombing abortion clinics. But Brashear and others at the meeting said that Brown was incorrect and that Reagan had only said he might review a case in which a convicted bomber received a 42-year prison term.” [Miami Herald, 1/23/86]
- People For The American Way: “[American Life League]’s early networking created the foundation for the outspoken anti-abortion movement in the 1980s and the established movement as it exists now.” [People For The American Way Archive, 10/11/06]
- American Life League created the “rescue” tactic to make the aggressive disruption of reproductive health services “commonplace” via blockading clinics, occupying sidewalks and “systematic harassment.”
“ALL helped to establish the ‘rescue’ movement, which made the use of aggressive tactics to disrupt reproductive health services commonplace. These tactics, adopted and popularized by ALL, include ‘sidewalk counseling,’ clinic blockades, and the systematic harassing and intimidation of patients, clinics and doctors.” [People For The American Way Archive ,10/11/06]
- American Life League claims to “separate itself” from other anti-abortion groups by advocating for a total ban of abortion.
“We are opposed to all abortion, contraceptive methods that cause abortion and other threats to the human person and the family. This total protection approach separates us from many of the other major groups in the nation because we do not discriminate against any innocent human being.” [ALL Organization Statements Archive ,Accessed 4/22/19]
- American Life League runs a website that claims birth control is dangerous to a woman’s health and can lead to death.
“Researchers ignored the truth about side effects and didn’t investigate the cause of women’s deaths. To gain FDA approval, large-scale human clinical trials of the pill began in 1956. Dr. Pincus chose Puerto Rico for the trials because of the large pool of poor, uneducated women available to him there. Even though the local doctor in charge of the study told Pincus that the pill causes ‘too many side reactions to be generally acceptable,’ he ignored the warning and carried on the studies without investigating side effects. Three women died during those trials and the cause of their deaths was never investigated.” [ThePillKills.org ,Accessed 4/22/19]
- American Life League urged a boycott of Disney movies because it claimed the films showed subliminal sexual messaging.
“You say you’ve watched ‘The Lion King’ 50 times with your children and never caught the ‘sex’ scene? Look again, says a Stafford, Va.-based Christian group that is protesting split-second imagery that it says has debased the G-rated animated movie. American Life League (ALL), an antiabortion organization boasting 300,000 supporters across the country, has asked Disney to apologize to its fans for including what is says is inappropriate sexual material in several of its films. The most recent example, it says, involves Simba, star of Disney’s ‘Lion King.’ Forlorn over the death of his father, the young lion flops dejectedly on the ground near the edge of a cliff. The result, offended viewers say, is a cloud of dust particles that swirls and swoops to form the word ‘sex,’ and then quickly fades away.” [Washington Post ,9/01/96]
March for Life hosted far-right anti-Muslim activist Ben Shapiro as its headline speaker in 2019.
Ben Shapiro headlined March for Life 2019. [March for Life ,Accessed 3/19/19]
Shapiro claimed that all Muslims are radical extremists.
“Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro jumped in to say the nature of Islam is irrelevant. More important, according to Shapiro, is what its followers believe, ‘because that’s what they act upon.’ Through this lens, Shapiro painted a disturbing picture of the religious wellspring for people who fly planes into towers and behead their prisoners.” [PunditFact ,11/5/14]
Shapiro: “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” [Twitter ,9/27/10]
Shapiro: “If your definition of feminism is the free and willful murder of born-alive infants, you’re not a feminist. You’re barely deserve the title human being.” [Twitter ,1/30/19]
Shapiro: “Men and women on average are not the same. You know how I know this? Because I have functioning retinas and a functioning prefrontal cortex.”
“Then outlined how radical feminist ideas wrecked the most important institutions in society and led to less happiness for women. Shapiro appealed to basic science, then offered an amusing reference to gender studies majors that brought laughter and applause from the audience, noting, ‘I hate to break it to gender studies majors in the room, number 1, I don’t know where you’re going to get a job.’ He noted something else for gender studies majors: ‘Sex is not a social construct and gender is not a social construct.’ Shapiro brought another laugh from the audience when he asserted, ‘Men and women on average are not the same. You know how I know this? Because I have functioning retinas and a functioning prefrontal cortex. … We used to know these things because we had not frontally lobotomized ourselves to facts.’” [Daily Wire ,10/08/18]
Shapiro: “Then came the radicals. Feminism moved from being about achieving equal rights for women to something different. Number 1. Men and women are absolutely identical. Not they have equal rights. Not they should be treated with equal opportunity, but they are absolutely identical…” [Daily Wire ,10/08/18]
Shapiro claimed that sexual harassment exists because society “treats sex as transactional,” and denies the existence of rape culture.
“‘But if you just say to me, ‘You don’t acknowledge the rape culture,’ again, I need you to define that and I need you to explain to me what I did. Like, really? I didn’t do anything, and I think the vast majority of people in this room didn’t do anything, and if they did do something then maybe people should report it to the police because that seems to me the best way to root out evil, is to actually have law enforcement get involved. So the question of what the Left is doing about this, do they feel disenfranchised? No, I think they’re just going to blame the same people they always blame because we’re all in our own little bubbles. Should they feel disenfranchised? 100%. Because in a society that treats sex as transactional, in a society that basically reduces sex to a physical transaction that is based solely on consent, it makes it very difficult to explain why it is that the casting couch in Hollywood is bad, per se.’” [Daily Wire ,10/19/17]
March for Life hosts anti-abortion extremists who use deceptively edited videos that have inspired abortion clinic violence to advance their agenda.
Lila Rose and her group, Live Action, utilize secret video recordings to attempt to “end abortion” and defund Planned Parenthood.
“That’s because her tactics are a lot like those of Lila Rose, her moral adversary, who made a name for herself in 2007 with an undercover video at an abortion clinic linked to Planned Parenthood, where she pretended to be a pregnant 15-year-old with a 23-year-old boyfriend. The sting fueled conservative outrage and later launched a Republican-led congressional investigation of the women’s health care giant… Rose’s goal is to end abortion, and her group campaigns to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.” [Newsweek ,8/29/14
Lila Rose spoke at March for Life in 2014.
“Back in January, at the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C., Rose took the stage in a short red dress that looked painted on her small frame. She spoke to 1,300 clergy, church groups and parents at a youth rally in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.” [Newsweek ,8/29/14]
Live Action’s and Rose’s videos are known to be deceptively edited to advance their agenda.
“Anti-abortion group Live Action released (another) misleading video about Planned Parenthood’s health care practices on Monday… Live Action’s video is, of course, not the anti-abortion movement’s first attempt at misleading the public into thinking Planned Parenthood has a secret agenda. Live Action released similarly deceptive videos in 2012.” [HuffPost ,1/26/17]
March for Life 2019 hosted a conference headlined by David Daleiden. [March for Life ,Accessed 3/19/19]
Daleiden, as a part of the group Center For Medical Progress, released a series of deceptively altered videos to smear Planned Parenthood.
“The videos, recorded by two activists posing as representatives of a biotechnology firm procuring tissue for researchers and universities, continue to be released online about once a week. One of the activists, David Daleiden of California, told The New York Times last month that his ‘thousands of hours of videotape’ was enough to release videos into the fall…But, it said, ‘the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries’ unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered.” [New York Times ,8/27/15]
The false claims in the Center For Medical Progress videos were cited by an extremist who shot up a Planned Parenthood and killed three people in 2015.
“On November 27, 2015, Robert Lewis Dear Jr. was arrested after a siege at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood left three people dead…In addition, Dear has claimed to be a ‘warrior for the babies’ who targeted Planned Parenthood because it ’sell[s] baby parts’—a widely debunked argument put forth by the anti-choice activist David Daleiden and his front group the Center for Medical Progress.” [Rewire ,11/28/16]
March for Life hosted anti-abortion extremist and Susan B Anthony List employee Jill Stanek at its law conference.
March for Life 2018’s Law Conference featured Jill Stanek as a speaker. [MarchforLife.org ,Accessed 4/22/19]
Stanek testified before the House Judiciary Committee and claimed that all abortion is “infanticide.”
“It became clearer to me than ever that a law must be enacted that specifies that all babies born alive are indeed humans and American citizens with civil rights to equal protection. This is a point that is obviously not clear to extremists in our great country who believe that the right to obtain an abortion must be extended to include the right to commit infanticide. If a hospital named ‘Christ’ does not willingly stop committing infanticide but handles public and legal scrutiny by merely trying to make those whose lives they’re snuffing out more ‘comfortable,’ I have grave concerns about children whose lives are being ended at abortion clinics and hospitals where there is no spotlight of attention.” [House of Representatives Testimony ,07/12/01]
Stanek was arrested alongside anti-abortion extremist Troy Newman at a protest of John Boehner after he did not schedule a vote on an anti-abortion bill.
“Eight pro-life leaders, including Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, were arrested this morning outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office while kneeling in prayer and in protest that a vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has not received a promised vote. Other leaders placed under arrest included pro-life blogger Jill Stanek, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, and Katie Mahoney, a long-time pro-life spokesperson. It issue was the cancellation of a promised vote set for January 22, 2015, on the bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks in all 50 states. Pro-life leaders were promised that the vote would be re-scheduled ‘immediately,’ yet two months later, there is no vote in sight.” [LifeSiteNews ,03/25/15]
Stanek said that those objecting to performing for Donald Trump would do so “if he [Trump] were gay.” [Twitter ,12/24/16]
Stanek once shared a video on her blog that compared abortion to both slavery and the Holocaust.
“This week, Life Report evaluates the charge that pro-lifers lie to say abortion is worse than the Holocaust or slavery, delving further to ask, even if so, are we wise to make the point to pro-choicers?” [JillStanek.com ,05/21/11]
Stanek on Nelson Mandela: “I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to say a positive word to say about him.”
“Others are noting additional blemishes on Mandela’s record, but even if he were an otherwise all-around hero, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to say a positive word to say about him other than, ‘I pray he repented.’” [LifeNews ,12/08/13]
March for Life featured speaker Abby Johnson, who has defended white supremacists.
Abby Johnson spoke at March for Life 2019. [MarchForLife.org Accessed ,4/19/19]
Abby Johnson is an anti-abortion advocate who previously worked for Planned Parenthood.
“During her eight years with Planned Parenthood, Abby quickly rose through the organization’s ranks and became a clinic director…All of that changed on September 26, 2009 when Abby was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched in horror as a 13 week baby fought for, and ultimately lost, its life at the hand of the abortionist…Today, Abby travels across the globe sharing her story, educating the public on pro-life issues, advocating for the unborn, and reaching out to abortion clinic staff who still work in the industry. She is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers in transitioning out of the industry. To date, this ministry has helped over 430 workers leave the abortion industry. Abby lives in Texas with her husband and seven precious children.” [Abbyjohnson.org Accessed ,4/09/19]
Abby Johnson defended white nationalist Kristen Hatten in a Facebook comment.” [HuffPost ,4/17/18]
Anti-abortion advocate Kristen Hatten became an open white nationalist after the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
“But after he won, something changed. Hatten began sharing white supremacist content on social media. She self-identified on Twitter as alt-right and ‘ethnonationalist’ ― the same term used by white nationalist icon Richard Spencer. She mused on Facebook that immigrant ‘invaders’ are replacing white Europeans in their own countries, and shared a post imploring Trump to grant ‘asylum’ to white South Africans.” [HuffPost, 4/17/18]
Extremist group Focus On The Family co-hosts ‘Evangelicals For Life,’ an event held in conjunction with March for Life meant to rally Evangelicals for the march.
Focus On The Family: “Co-sponsored by Focus On The Family and The ERLC, Evangelicals For Life was first held in 2016 to increase the level of engagement in the pro-life cause among evangelical Christians.” [FocusOnTheFamily.org ,Accessed 4/23/19]
Focus On The Family seeks to “[promote] biblical truths worldwide.”
“To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.” [FocusOnTheFamily.org ,Accessed 4/23/19]
Focus On The Family denies the existence of transgender people and opposes marriage equality.
“We believe that God created humans in His image, intentionally and immutably male and female, each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships. Sexuality is a glorious gift from God to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union, and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.” [FocusOnTheFamily.org Accessed, 4/23/19]
- Focus On The Family: “Because ‘transgenderism’ violates god’s intentional design for sex and sexuality, we believe that this is a cultural and theological battle that we must engage and win.”[FocusOnTheFamily.org archive, 10/25/13]
Focus On The Family funds CareNet, “one of the largest networks” of anti-abortion pregnancy centers in America.
“The organization is an affiliate of CareNet, which operates one of the largest networks of anti-choice ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ in the United States. It gets support from Focus on the Family, an anti-choice organization that opposes some forms of contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).” [Rewire, News 1/22/19]
Focus On The Family supports abstinence-only sex education, which also only promotes heterosexual marriage.
“Focus on the Family supports abstinence-until-marriage education in the public schools because it is God’s expected standard as communicated in Scripture. God’s perfect plan for sexuality unfolds as an exclusive blessing for husband and wife in marriage and also ensures protection for the unmarried. Sexuality is a glorious gift from God meant to honor Him either in marriage or in celibacy.” [FocusOnTheFamily.org archive, 10/25/13]
March for Life allowed a group called The Genocide Awareness Project, which compares abortion to genocide, to set up displays.
A group called The Genocide Awareness Project, which compares abortion to genocide, set up displays with ‘huge photos’ at March for Life 2004.
“On that day, The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) will display huge photos comparing abortion to genocide at the beginning of the March for Life parade route (southeast corner of 15th and Constitution Ave.) Mark Harrington, Executive Director, Center for Bio Ethical Reform Midwest and Host of Mark Harrington Live said, ‘Many participants of the March for Life are young people. Many pro- life youth don’t understand who the baby is and what abortion does to him. The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) will make abortion real to thousands of marchers. As a result, babies will be saved by our efforts.’ The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP)is a traveling photo-mural exhibit that visits university campuses around the country to show as many students as possible what abortion actually does to unborn children and get them to think about abortion in a broader historical context.” [U.S. Newswire, 1/21/2004]
Nellie Gray founded March for Life and presided over the organization from its creation in 1974 until her death in 2012. Gray believed that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including if the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman. She compared abortion to the Holocaust, opposed birth control, claiming it enabled “abortion mills,” and referred to abortion as “a juggernaut of evil.” Gray actively refused to find compromise or moderate the anti-abortion movement and would not cancel the March when urged to do so following a spree of shootings at abortion clinics. Gray was unyielding in her extreme beliefs and, in her words, “will not negotiate with baby killers.” She sought to bring down those who she considered too moderate, chastising President Reagan for refusing to address the March for Life in person and revoking an award from staunch anti-abortion Surgeon General Everett Koop after he promoted condom usage to stop the AIDS epidemic. Even on her deathbed, Gray was networking and advocating for the anti-abortion movement.
Jeanne Mancini is the current president of March for Life, and has been since the 2012 death of the group’s founder, Nellie Gray. She previously served as an Abstinence Advisor at HHS, the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and most recently at the hate group Family Research Council. While initially condemning Donald Trump, accusing him of executing a “war on women,” Mancini quickly pivoted and invited him to speak at both Marches held during his presidency. She also supported the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — omitting any mention of the accusations against him.
President, March For Life Action
Tom McClusky runs March for Life Action, the organization’s electoral arm. The group creates abortion scorecards for tightly contested political races. McClusky served as the vice president of government affairs for a decade at the recognized hate group Family Research Council, where he lobbied on marriage issues. As head of March for Life Action, McClusky has railed against fetal tissue research and compared anti-abortion propaganda to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
March for Life focuses on mobilizing and organizing young adults.
Catholic Schools bus students to the March for Life, inflating the number of young people who attend it.
“Since the March for Life began in 1974, the year after the Roe v. Wade decision, the crowd has been largely youthful, including Catholic school students who ride buses from all over the country to attend the march. In recent years, march organizers said they have tried to welcome a broader group of people who oppose abortion. In addition to the march’s Catholic core, an Evangelicals for Life conference now draws a sizable contingent. Other groups march in step, like Secular Pro-Life and Democrats for Life of America.” [Washington Post ,1/18/19]
- The March serves the agenda of the Catholic Church, which “has increasingly focused on educating and mobilizing its youth base around its antiabortion ideology.”
“The Catholic Church has increasingly focused on educating and mobilizing its youth base around its antiabortion ideology. The rally and march, hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, drew busloads of Catholic schoolchildren from across the metropolitan area and the country. Such events reinforce recent Gallup polls that report more young people, especially those in the 18- to-34-year-old range, are identifying as antiabortion. ‘The youth are at the heart of this,’ said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, who spoke at the Verizon Center on Monday. ‘They are just so important to us. We try to get them energized with that passion in the morning.’” [Washington Post ,1/23/12]
The Root: The number of children and teenagers at the March for Life is “alarming.”
“I had the unfortunate luxury of witnessing the March of Life myself. …what I found alarming was the amount of teenagers and children present as their parents barked on anyone who opposed their views.” [The Root ,1/19/19]
March for Life is an important calendar date for anti-abortion politicians, who use the opportunity to pander to anti-abortion extremists.
March for Life provides an opportunity for conservative politicians to make inflammatory anti-abortion remarks.
Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms called abortion “an American Holocaust” at March for Life in 1987.
“An estimated 5,000 demonstrators marched through a driving snowstorm to the Supreme Court today to mark the 14th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. They carried such signs as ‘Stop Unborn Child Abuse’ and ‘Equal Rights for Unborn Women,’ and they heard Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina describe abortion as ‘an American holocaust.’” [New York Times ,1/23/87]
President Reagan promised supporters he would work to overturn Roe and referred to abortion as a “national tragedy” At March for Life in 1987.
“President Reagan pledged his continued support to thousands of people rallying here today to protest abortion, saying he would work with them to overturn the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion and to ‘end this national tragedy.’ ‘Thank you for your commitment to the right to life of America’s unborn children,’ the President said in comments delivered by telephone over a sound system speaker to the protesters gathered on the Ellipse behind the White House. ‘Today you remind all of us that abortion is not a harmless medical procedure but the taking of a life of a living human being.’” [New York Times ,1/23/87]
President George H.W. Bush referred to abortion as “our American tragedy,” said Roe was “wrong and should be overturned” and called for a constitutional amendment to overturn abortion at March for Life in 1989.
“President Bush on Monday called abortion ‘our American tragedy’ as nearly 70,000 protesters marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing abortion. The march organizer said the new administration should ‘provide actions to carry out their words.’ Bush, speaking by telephone hook-up to the activists, said the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision ‘was wrong and should be overturned.’ ‘I wanted to share with you my deep personal concern about our American tragedy – abortion on demand,’ Bush said over loudspeakers. ‘I think America needs a human life amendment and I think when it comes to abortion, there’s a better way – the way of adoption, the way of life.’” [Associated Press ,1/23/89]
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the freedoms of life and conscience are “the most fundamental freedoms we have” at a March for Life event.
“Just this morning we at HHS announced that the state of California is in violation of the Weldon Amendment and the Coats-Snowe provision that prevents discrimination against health care providers who refuse to provide or refer for abortion services. That’s the first time in history that’s been done, enforcing those provisions… It’s really important, and it shows I think what we’re trying to do as a pro-life administration, a pro-life, pro-science team at HHS, is we’re really trying to protect two of the most important and fundamental freedoms we have. The first is the freedom of life and the second is of conscience, and we try to make sure that both of those are respected in everything that we do and in all of our programs.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]
- Azar called the “right to conscience as foundational as the right to life.”
“The right to conscience is as foundational as the right to life in our perspective. We at HHS, we’re a massive department with 1.3 trillion dollars of programs, we’re over one-fourth of the U.S. government, 330 programs, and the president and I and my predecessor I think have demonstrated very strong leadership here to make sure that we have a culture of protecting life, health, wellbeing for all individuals from conception through natural death.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]
- Azar called HHS “the department of life.”
“We have in our strategic plan at HHS for the first time ever — it actually declares support for life from the moment of conception up through natural death. Because we are the department of life.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]
- Azar said they would “keep fighting for that rule, in spite of the courts” to ensure that people don’t have to “sacrifice conscience.”
“Of course there’s what we’re doing on conscience to protect people’s right to conscience. Because while health care — access to health care is important, there’s no… one doesn’t have to sacrifice health care and access to health care doesn’t have to sacrifice conscience and respect for people’s conscience to ensure that people have access to health care. So we put out a conscience regulation saying that while the Affordable Care Act does require access to contraceptive services, that those employers who have a religious or moral objection to the provision of contraceptive services, do not have to do so, and of course there are many forms of contraceptives that many would believe are abortifacients, um, and this gives them the right as a matter of conscience to pull out of that, and we’re going to keep fighting for that rule, in spite of the courts.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]
President Trump and Vice President Pence spoke at the March for Life in both 2018 and 2019 to tout their anti-abortion agenda and recite religious stump language.
“Trump, who addressed the march by video feed last year, had again prepared videotaped remarks for the marchers…’When we look into the eyes of a newborn child, we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation. We know that every life has meaning,’ Trump said in his video, before listing his administration’s antiabortion actions and vowing to reject any legislation passed by the new Democratic controlled House…Pence gave a similar list of antiabortion actions, including Trump’s appointment of conservative judges to powerful appellate courts across the country, and his reinstatement of the Mexico City policy that bans U.S. government funding for any foreign aid organization linked to abortion. Pence, too, spoke with religious overtones: ‘Listen to the truth,’ he said, then cited one of the antiabortion movement’s favorite biblical verses. ‘Know that He who said, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’ also said, ‘I will never forsake you.’… However, last year, when Trump addressed the crowd, some complained that the polarizing president distanced those who aren’t fans of Trump from the antiabortion movement.” [Washington Post ,1/18/19]
- Mike Pence is a regular March for Life speaker, first speaking in 2002. [U.S. Newswire ,1/02/02]
Conservative politicians often pass or propose anti-abortion legislation on or around the March for Life.
One of George W. Bush’s first acts as president was to ban federal funding for abortion providers overseas — on the same day as March for Life 2001.
“President George W. Bush, despite his inaugural pleas for unity, yesterday plunged into one of the nation’s most bitterly divisive fights, banning federal funds for groups providing abortion counseling overseas. ‘It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion either here or abroad,’ Bush wrote in a memo to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which runs the international funding program. The first major policy move of Bush’s new presidency delighted the tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists who were protesting in Washington on the 28th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion. ‘We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law,’ Bush said in a statement read to protesters at the annual anti-abortion March for Life. ’We know this will not come easily, or all at once.’” [Boston Herald ,1/23/2001]
GOP congressional leadership released a “pain capable” anti-abortion bill, a functional 20-week abortion ban, to coincide with March for Life 2015.
“When the planned vote on a harsh new 20-week abortion ban went off the rails in January, liberal news outlets gloated while conservative commentators fumed over what they respectively called a Republican congresswomen ‘revolt’ or ‘mutiny.’ At the beginning of the year, GOP leadership scheduled a high-profile vote on the ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’ to coincide with the 2015 March for Life, the annual protest of Roe v. Wade. They had a Congressional majority and expected smooth passage of the bill.” [The Public Eye Spring 2015]
- The bill would have also forced rape and incest survivors to file a police report before they could access an abortion.
“But, to their surprise, female House representatives balked at the bill’s draconian rape and incest exemption, which would have forced survivors to file a police report before they could access an abortion. The Republican dissenters-primarily women, joined by a couple of moderate male allies-thought the provision was tone-deaf and would turn off women and millennial voters.” [The Public Eye Spring 2015]
Reagan endorsed a bill that would prohibit the use of federal money for Medicaid the day before March for Life 1983.
“President Reagan yesterday endorsed a bill that would prohibit use of federal money for Medicaid abortions for the poor, coverage of abortions in health insurance plans for government workers, research on abortion and population control programs abroad that promote abortion… Reagan’s endorsement and his meeting with anti-abortion leaders the day before an annual ‘March for Life’ here held an important symbolic significance. Among those invited to the White House was the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist and founder of the Moral Majority.” [Washington Post ,1/22/83]
Senator Ben Sasse proposed a “born-alive” bill, which would criminalize abortion providers, “just days” before the start of March for Life 2019.
“Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., this week reintroduced his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a move that comes just days before the official start of the 37th annual March for Life…Though the bill, which was originally introduced in 2017, provides for penalties for abortionists who knowingly fail to comply with the proposed legislation, it is careful to exempt mothers from prosecution.” [Washington Times ,1/16/19]
March for Life exerts its lobbying influence, endorsing and discussing anti-abortion legislation with powerful politicians.
March for Life provides an opportunity for protestors to directly lobby their elected officials on abortion issues.
The Washington Post: “[March for Life is] a day [for anti-abortion advocates] to rally, march and then lobby their elected representatives.” [Washington Post ,1/23/90]
March for Life helps set the national anti-abortion political agenda by interacting directly with politicians and endorsing legislation.
March for Life endorsed a bill that would end federal tax-exempt bonds from going to abortion providers.
“Mr. Speaker, today I introduce the No Abortion Bonds Act, to end Federal tax-exempt bonds that support abortion providers…The No Abortion Bonds Act has over 30 bipartisan cosponsors and is endorsed by Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, March for Life, the Family Policy Alliance, and the Eagle Forum. Please join me today in applying the spirit of the Hyde amendment to the Tax Code by preventing tax-free bonds from going to abortion providers.” [US Official News ,10/26/17]
March for Life endorsed a ‘born-alive’ bill that would criminalize abortion providers and urged a congressional vote on the topic.
“‘While politicians like these are in step with a powerful abortion lobby, they are out of touch with the American people. We ask Congress to heed President Trump’s call to pass legislation prohibiting late-term abortion as well for a quick floor vote in the Senate on the Born-Alive bill so that Governor Northam’s infanticide fantasy may never be reality. It is time for politicians, regardless of party, to stand up in favor of protecting innocent life.’” [Targeted News Service ,2/06/19]
- March for Life pushed for a congressional vote on a ‘born-alive’ bill as an electoral strategy.
“March for Life Action president Tom McClusky said most Americans believe abortion should be limited to the first trimester at most, and called for a roll-call vote ‘so that constituents know exactly where their elected officials stand on protecting the fundamental right to life.’” [Washington Times ,2/05/19]
March for Life endorsed a proposed bill that would make it easier for religious institutions to do electoral work.
“Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged to make conservative Christians more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on churches’ and other tax-exempt nonprofits’ ability to do electoral work. On Wednesday two Republican congressmen, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Georgia’s Jody Hice, introduced H.R. 6195, what they call the ‘Free Speech Fairness Act,’ which would lay the groundwork for a President Trump to do just that…According to a handout, the bill or the policies represented in it are also supported by Focus on the Family, the Heritage Foundation, the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability, March for Life Action, Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Home School Legal Defense Association.” [US Official News ,9/30/16]
March for Life lobbied for the ban of Medicaid funding of abortion services, coverage of abortions in health insurance plans for federal employees and research on abortion and foreign population control programs that promote abortion.
“And when Helms was through, the crowd got its turn, serenading the senator after March for Life president Nellie J. Gray presented him with the group’s first annual Life Award for Outstanding Service…The group has been lobbying for the ‘Respect Human Life Act,’ introduced by Hyde and endorsed Friday by President Reagan. The bill would prohibit federal funds for Medicaid abortions for the poor, coverage of abortions in health insurance plans for federal employees, research on abortion and foreign population control programs that promote abortion.” [Washington Post ,1/24/83]
At the March for Life in 1982, President Nellie Gray reportedly had “very positive” discussions with Reagan about abortion legislation.
“Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life Committee, said Reagan made no commitment on any specific piece of anti-abortion legislation, but she called the meeting ‘very positive. ‘Miss Gray and her followers gathered Friday south of the White House on the Ellipse, then marched to the Capitol to lobby Congress for what they called a ‘Unity Amendment.’ Police estimated the anti-abortion crowd at 25,000.” [Associated Press ,1/23/82]
March for Life inspired global marches in other countries.
March for Life inspired similar marches internationally.
“The March for Life began in the United States, but it’s now a global phenomenon, with marches in countries as diverse as Mexico, Poland, Nigeria, France and Australia, to name just a few. According to Niamh Uí Bhriain of Rally for Life in Dublin, ‘The March for Life in the U.S. has definitely inspired many people throughout the world to come together and stand up for life.’ Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., noted that pro-life leaders from numerous countries have attended Washington’s march. ‘They go home and, in an enculturated way, build something that’s unique to their local community,’ she said.” [Knights Of Columbus ,1/01/18]
At least 20 nations internationally hold a March for Life in some capacity.
“Philippines… Mexico… Poland… Ukraine… Ireland…Czech Republic… England… Italy… Netherlands… Switzerland… Spain… Romania… Belgium… Germany… Nigeria… Uganda… Peru… South Korea… Australia… Japan” [Knights Of Columbus ,1/01/18]