Español The 2014 March for Life, held yesterday in Washington, D.C., marked the 41-year anniversary of the historic 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that abortion is a constitutional right in the United States.
Organizers estimated a presence of half a million demonstrators last year, but said this year that number was significantly lower due to the extreme cold. Even Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher’s scheduled performance was cancelled, but that didn’t stop tens of thousands of protestors from showing up.
Prior to kick-off, attendees rallied to hear speakers like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), along with representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO).
“I believe that one day in the not too distant future our movement will be victorious because we will prevail in securing a culture of life,” said Cantor. Hartzler affirmed her presence, saying that “We are here today to remember the millions of lives devastated with abortion and to pledge ourselves anew to upholding . . . the right to life.”
Other speakers at the march, whose theme was “Adoption, a Noble Decision,” included parents who adopted and children who were adopted themselves.
“[Women] make a household into a family. I should know. That’s what happened to my husband and me over 14 years ago, when a brave birth mother chose us to be the parents to her baby,” said Hartzler.
Paul Wilson, a freelance writer and blogger living in the D.C. area, said the March for Life “is evident proof that the pro-life movement will never cease to exist until abortion is fully destroyed in America. . . . The case against abortion rests on a simple point: human life, at any stage, is valuable and should not be destroyed.”
Wilson shared his own experience with the issue of abortion, saying, “I was very nearly the victim of abortion; my mother’s gynecologist was convinced that I would be developmentally disabled, and attempted to convince my mother to abort me. I wonder how many women were similarly frightened into aborting a ‘worthless’ pregnancy under false pretenses.”
Protestors filled the National Mall with signs reading “stop abortion now,” “life is a human right,” and “I am the pro-life generation.” Student groups appeared in large numbers with banners representing their affiliations and Catholic monks marched while reciting Gregorian chants in Latin.
Laurie Rice, research and program assistant for The Atlas Society, counters that the “Pro-life [view] is the nationalization of women’s wombs by the state. . . . [It] means initiating force against women to separate them from the ownership of their own bodies . . . [and] it sacrifices the clear personhood of a woman for the ambiguous personhood of developing matter.”
“If the March For Life has “affected” the abortion debate, it has only been to obscure the actual terms of the issue and threaten the liberty of women,” said Rice. “Libertarians, having unique principles about the role of local and federal governments, might oppose the legality of Roe v. Wade in specific ways. But pro-life advocacy is not in any way the appropriate forum to signal those nuances.”
According to the Pew Research Center, about 63 percent of US adults say they would not like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn Roe v. Wade, while 29 percent want to see the ruling overturned. At a personal level, though, about 49 percent of US Americans say that having an abortion is morally wrong, while 15 percent think it is morally acceptable, and 23 percent say it is not a moral issue.
Kate Bryan, director of communications for the American Principles Project, says “abortion is the greatest human rights abuse of our time, and [it] destroys the most innocent Americans among us — unborn children. With over 55 million children killed by legalized abortion since 1973 in America, and over 3,000 babies being violently put to death every day, the American people are more determined than ever to bring this abortion holocaust to an end.”
“The March for Life is rarely covered by the Mainstream media . . . for various reasons, but the coverage this year and last has really been unprecedented,” said Bryan. “The American people want to talk about abortion, and as they become more knowledgeable about it, they are becoming increasingly more pro-life.”
To the question of how abortion affects the political scene, Bryan said “abortion affects American politics, insomuch as it affects the American people . . . no matter their politics, every single person in America has been personally affected by abortion. Every person knows someone who had one, lost a child or cousin to abortion, or was a survivor themselves.”
EspañolSince last December, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for a national dialogue with the opposition. Before the municipal elections were held, he affirmed, “on December 9, I call all mayors, who were legitimately and peacefully elected, for a great social, economic, and political dialogue on the future of Venezuela." A national dialogue is more than welcome, especially in such a polarized, and violent country as Venezuela. Chavistas and opponents need to recognize and respect each other, and work together to pull the country out of its social, economic, and moral ruin. Joint efforts are necessary, despite the authoritarian, militaristic, neo-communist, and totalitarian nature of the regime. Even though this may sound overly optimistic, dialogues and national pacts have taken place before with great influence and with all kinds of dictatorial regimes — Marxist, fascist, militaristic. The problem here is not the dialogue, but how it is carried out. First, it needs to be clear and sincere, and both parties must negotiate under equal terms. Then, all the efforts will be in vain unless participants commit to and fulfill their agreements. In the case of Venezuela, the current, restricted dialogue is not enough. Maduro called for a limited dialogue, and the opposition accepted it under those terms, over the rejection of some individuals. The dialogue has been limited since the beginning. Maduro asked for “all public authorities” to move beyond their differences and come together to pursue "joint actions" — to find a solution for "crucial issues in society." However, this dialogue should have been open and inclusive for all political, social, and economic groups; rather than being restricted to one political faction (the MUD) and under the government's own agenda. Unfortunately, the opposition neither claimed nor demanded any changes, despite the disapproval from some of its leaders. On the contrary, their acceptance was clear when their governors and mayors attended the meeting. These terms were also accepted by other economic and social groups that did not push for a change of rules either. Only a few leaders from the Catholic Church requested an open dialogue that could lead to a true and new national pact. This government-imposed dialogue hasn't been honest or fair, and this becomes evident once we analyze the meetings that have taken place over the last few weeks. The How of Venezuela's Current Dialogue On December 18, all mayors from the opposition were invited to the Miraflores presidential palace. In this meeting, there was an actual exchange of ideas, and most attendees were able to express their concerns to the president — though in a brief and informal manner. But it was Maduro who spoke the longest in front of the media, in a speech where he guaranteed inclusion, respect, democracy, and economic resources, and even aggressively rejected some of the concerns presented by attending mayors. The onset of the legislative year was the context for the second meeting, held on January 6 in the National Assembly. However, it was quite different from the previous one. Despite initial promises to move forward with the dialogue and allow opponents to participate, Maduro was the only one who spoke. So the meeting turned into a monologue. However, he still asked for congressional support in his attempt to solve Venezuela's problems. The third meeting took place in early January as well, following the murder of former beauty queen Mónica Spear and her husband. This incident, which put the government in a tough spot, exposed the failures of all 21 national security plans, and the futility of the state militarization measures. Once the news got out, the president urgently called Chavistas and opposing governors from all 23 states, including mayors of the highest crime-rate cities, to meet him at Miraflores. In this occasion, they only focused on security matters, without discussing specific tangible measures. After the head of state spoke for two hours, he left to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. However, the government didn't miss the opportunity to take a picture (see below) of President Maduro with leader of the opposition and Governor Henrique Capriles barely shaking hands, as a proof of "dialogue" with the opposition. Since this last encounter, some work meetings have taken place with top security officials, but with no President Maduro around. In these meeting, members from the opposition have been allowed to introduce their proposals, but always under the government's parameters — to "continue coordinating the actions" of police forces, and "fight crime in the most efficient manner." So far, the meetings have not led to a real, open, and honest dialogue, at least not anything that any democratic society would recognize. There hasn't been a real recognition between both parties, or any discussions leading to agreements or commitments. Instead, the government has discussed specific topics of its interest to stay in power, to hold on to its remaining popularity. The government has merely included its political adversaries to allegedly start a common fight against the country's main problems. These are the same problems, however, that the government hasn't been able to solve after so many years — but on we go with the same failed plans. The government has not even bothered to change its security experts, and Maduro's last measure was another national peacemaking plan, which of course was not discussed with opposing governors or mayors. Dialogue, Why Now? Maduro may feel pressured to make amends with the opposition. After a questionable election, he may have remained in power, but he's still interested in legitimizing his force, and improving his public image. Once he decided to radicalize the Bolivarian project — according to his Plan for the Fatherland 2013-2019 — he thought it would be best to make people believe he was taking the democratic and moderate road, even if he is not. With no elections on the horizon for the next couple of years, Maduro would be wise not to push for strong political polarization. It is more useful to keep the opposition in his pockets, and scold them once in a while. Finally, he needs to establish a dialogue — albeit limited and dishonest — with some of his opponents to face the bigger, heavier issues for the regime, such as citizen security, inflation, product shortages, and unavoidable economic reforms. Overall, Maduro's government has profited from this "dialogue," and it will remain like this, until the democratic opposition pushes him to change the terms. At least some opposition leaders have already realized this fact. Capriles himself publicly admitted that Maduro's approach to the opposition, after a decade of conflicts, "is just the president's tactic to gain some time while he looks for a solution to the rampant crime and economic problems."