A note to all the participants of Friday’s antiabortion March for Life rally, taking place in Washington:
You have been holding these marches since 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade, and guess what? You might have finally done it. You stacked the courts. Your lobbying efforts and voting patterns jammed three conservative justices on the Supreme Court’s bench during President Donald Trump’s term — never mind the hypocrisy of stonewalling Merrick Garland and then replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg (this isn’t the March for Constitutional Etiquette, after all). That same court is now preparing to issue rulings that might overturn the precedent that guaranteed women control over their reproductive futures. So, congrats?
I hope you’re ready for your odious brave new world. I presume each and every one of you is planning to adopt several kids. Those chia seed-size embryos that you insist on calling pre-born children eventually will be born to parents who never wanted to be parents, and someone will need to step up to the plate. Since “adoption” has been your solution, you’re up, slugger. Surely you can spare the extra $233,000 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 estimated it takes to raise a child from birth to age 18. (If the cost sounds steep, one of your crisis pregnancy centers might be willing to toss in a box of Huggies.)
I hope that the 364 days you’re not attending this march, you’re marching for universal health care. Also, subsidized day care and universal preschool; I hope every Chick-fil-A sandwich will now come with a side of full-time nanny.
Also, if your feet aren’t too tired, maybe you could mix in some marches for mandated parental leave for both mothers and fathers, and for free therapy for all of the people whose bodies and souls have been traumatized via forced pregnancy and forced birth.
At the very least, I hope we can count on you to vote for candidates who care about these issues with the same righteousness you brought to supporting pro-life politicians.
Truly, we can’t wait to see all the work you personally have been doing to reduce unwanted pregnancies, besides lurking outside of Planned Parenthood and shouting at people who are trying to get Pap smears. (Have you been doing that work?)
Intimate-partner violence can escalate during pregnancy — homicide is a leading cause of pregnancy-associated death — but you’ve probably already got a plan for making sure the boyfriends or husbands of these people don’t assault them upon learning they’re expecting.
Also, I hope you’re prepared to have the talk with your 15-year-old daughter — the talk that I wish on no family, regardless of politics. The one where she tells you her boyfriend said he would wear a condom but didn’t. The one that happens 13 or 15 weeks into her pregnancy because she was afraid to tell you earlier, because she knew you believed abstinence was the only acceptable form of birth control. The one where she’s sobbing and terrified and you begin to fully realize that accidental pregnancies don’t happen to bad people, they happen to all kinds of people, and maybe not every accident needs to be punished with lifelong consequences.
The one where you explain that there is no option but to live with those consequences. The one where you explain that you made sure of it.
Your theme this year is “Equality begins in the womb,” which is really smart. I’m excited for you to reveal the sweeping legislation you have up your sleeve pursuant to this extraordinary dedication to equality. The immediate passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, perhaps? Racial and economic justice initiatives to specifically help Black women and poor women? I hope I’m not getting my hopes up. Otherwise, I would think the theme would read: “Equality begins in the womb, and also ends there.”
March for Life founder Nellie Gray vowed to hold a demonstration every year until Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to your organization’s website. Depending on the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization later this year, it might be your last march for this particular cause.
But once you have this thing you always wanted — state-sanctioned control over women’s bodies — your work is not finished. You are responsible for the pregnant people whose futures you have changed, and for their future children, and both are going to need a lot more than your prayers.
Monica Hesse is a columnist writing about gender and its impact on society. For more visit wapo.st/hesse.