On Abortion, Goals Of Back-To-Back Marches Couldn’t Be More Different January 27, 20175:00 AM ET


Anti-abortion demonstrators mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 23, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Ted S. Warren/AP

Anti-abortion demonstrators mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 23, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren/AP

If that sounds like déjà vu, it’s not: what the organizers call The March for Life is a protest against legalized abortion, unlike the Women’s March last week, which included support for abortion rights in its platform.

A Different Kind of March

“I think we’re a pretty different march — we’re a one-issue march,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini.

The March for Life is also an annual event, held each year since the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide. This year’s march and rally come less than a week after the Women’s March, which was organized on social media largely as a protest against President Trump’s campaign rhetoric. While the marches in Washington and around the world focused on an array of issuesincluding LGBT rights and the environment, reproductive rights were a major focus.

Vice President Pence and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway are scheduled to speak at the Friday rally. A statement from the March for Life pointed out that Pence will be the first vice president in history to speak at the march.

Can Feminists Be “Pro-Life”?

That juxtaposition has opened up a larger debate about how women who consider themselves “pro-life” fit into the feminist movement. The issue became a point of tension surrounding the Women’s March after a handful of anti-abortion activists said they were planning to attend. In a statement, organizers apologized for initially including the anti-abortion group as a partner, and stating that the march’s “platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one.”

The group New Wave Feminists, a self-described “pro-life feminist” organization, was initially granted partnership status in the Women’s March, only to have that status rescinded when it became clear that the group opposed abortion rights.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists said she was “certainly disappointed” but had “no hard feelings” about that decision.

“The march on Saturday was AMAZING,” Herndon-De La Rosa wrote afterward in an email to NPR. “I honestly can’t begin to describe how wonderful it was. It was so positive, no negativity, so much support.”

Herndon-De La Rosa said she’s also attending the March for Life in Washington.

Another anti-abortion group, Students for Life of America, also wanted to have a presence at both marches, said President Kristan Hawkins. She said they walked with the crowds of women in pink hats carrying banners that read, “Abortion Betrays Women” and “We Don’t Need Planned Parenthood.” Hawkins said some of the marchers tried to block their banners at one point, but overall, “we had some really good interactions.”

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