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Why this bisexual, vegan atheist is at the March for Life

Rosemary Geraghty, 20, feels conflicted, which, to some degree, isn’t surprising.

She is a bisexual, liberal, atheist, vegan — and antiabortion — and she has come to the March on Life today to in part show the diversity among those who oppose abortion. But her values, which so clearly align for her — a belief in science and there should never be violence — today came into conflict as Vice President Pence prepared to address the crowd.

Like Pence, she opposes abortion. But unlike Pence, she opposes practices she considers discriminatory and thinks some policies Pence pursued as Indiana governor targeted the gay community. And some days she feels like the only thing she has in common with the new administration is that they’re both against abortion.

“How can we back human life, but show such disregard for other human beings who happen to be women or immigrants or people overseas?” Geraghty, who traveled from Pittsburgh, asked. “It’s hard to accept him as a figurehead in the movement.”

Geraghty belongs to a minority among those who are unaffiliated religiously, according to a Pew Research report released last year, which found that 20 percent of people who are religiously unaffiliated think abortion should be illegal.

For Geraghty, recognizing that most people at the march — who have long viewed Pence as a champion for their cause — are different from her is a familiar feeling. She was raised in a Christian family who supported abortion rights and went to a Catholic school. But she began to question all of it when she came to see her own sexual orientation.

“I didn’t agree with the Catholic Church’s teachings on gay marriage, and that sparked my questioning of everything. I slowly dissected what I believed in versus what I was told, and realized it doesn’t fit my lifestyle,” she said.

But that wasn’t the only thing that didn’t fit her lifestyle. Soon she was surfing blogs online, and came across one that extolled equality and diversity and the LGBTQ community. It proclaimed all of her values: It was for social justice and against violence in all settings. It was also against abortion. Geraghty looked closer.

“I remember being 16 and Googling, “Can you be gay and pro life?'” she said. “Then Googling, “Can you be an atheist and pro-life?’ And then realizing that you can be both of those things.”

Geraghty began to consider abortion as one more act of violence that was anathema to everything she believed, and that research led to activism, which has led to a bus from Pittsburgh, which led to Washington and the March for Life.

And that journey — and why she’s here — doesn’t make her feel the least bit conflicted.

Live coverage of the March for Life
People gather at the base of the Washington Monument Friday morning for the March for Life. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

After 43 years of doggedly demonstrating against abortion at the annual March for Life each January, thousands of abortion opponents are gathering Friday on the Mall with great reason for optimism. Just days into his presidency, Donald Trump has made abortion one of his first priorities in office.

With a likely eye toward rewarding voters who supported him based heavily on expectations that he would act on abortion, Trump has already revived an old policy banning U.S. funding for groups abroad that pay for abortions or provide information about abortion. On Tuesday, he signaled his intentions to nominate an antiabortion justice to the Supreme Court next week, and he has vowed more action to follow.

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