This week marked 40 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion through the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. On Friday, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists descended upon Washington to announce they are still working to overturn the decisions and spread the message that all human life is to be cherished and defended.
Fr. Frank Pavone is president at Priests for Life and an active leader in the pro-life movement and at the March for Life. He told WND the massive crowd on a snowy, blustery day sends a clear message.
"Just to give some perspective, the rally ended just after 1 p.m., and the march began and we still see no end to the crowd," said Pavone, nearly three hours after the march began.
Once the march reached the Supreme Court, some 70 women who had abortions began sharing their testimonies of regret for having terminated their pregnancies.
As for the pro-life agenda in the coming year, Pavone said one major goal is to explain to Americans what Roe v. Wade is and what it isn't.
"A lot of people think they support Roe v. Wade because they think it only allows abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy or only in certain extreme circumstances," Pavone said. "But once we let them know two things, then things begin to change. No. 1, that Roe v. Wade allows abortions under any and all circumstances throughout all nine months of pregnancy. And No. 2, what an abortion actually is. The medical textbooks call it decapitation and dismemberment, very disturbing words that don't come from pro-life people but come from the actual practitioners of abortion."
Pavone admitted passing pro-life legislation in Washington will be next to impossible as long as President Obama is in the White House and Democrats control the U.S. Senate. He said pro-life Americans should continue encouraging House Republicans to stand strong against efforts to advance further pro-choice laws.
On the other hand, Pavone said pro-life governors and state legislatures are in place in at least half of U.S. states, and real progress could be seen at that level.
"We've got 33 pro-life governors across America, and we've got half of the states that have legislatures that are completely pro-life, which means that the leeway the courts have given to the states in passing reasonable measures like parental involvement, more informed consent clinic regulations," said Pavone. "In some states, now, abortion is banned after 20 weeks on the state level because of the fact that children in the womb can feel pain. These kinds of measures, even in the current climate, have a lot of hope of passing in this particular year."
The 2012 campaign focused more than usual on abortion, as the Obama campaign made it a centerpiece of its efforts to attract women, along with the federal mandate that employers cover all costs for contraception. Opponents of that agenda were accused of waging a war on women. Pavone said it's exactly the opposite.
"The war on women, first of all, is when you tear them apart in the womb. Secondly, those who are standing here next to me are women who bought this product of abortion thinking it would be helpful to them, and they experienced exactly the opposite," he said. "That's the sad thing about the ideology we hear coming from the Democratic Party. They don't listen to the women who have had abortions. They certainly don't want to describe what an abortion is.
"So the war on women is a war that is making them believe the lie that abortion is something good. There's no disease abortion cures. There's no medical benefit to the procedure, but when women believe that there is, they end up standing here, as so many are right now, saying, 'I regret my abortion.'"
Pavone said other reasons for pro-life optimism include the movement getting younger and younger, and he said he's confident that 40 years from now, the unborn will once again be fully protected by law.