My First March

by Robert Newport

Only a few years ago I would have nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders if someone would have asked me where I stood on the abortion issue. I probably would have said something like, “oh, I’m pro-life I guess.” I didn’t give it much thought and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t view it as something to get worked up about. Although as time has gone by, events have shaped my position on the issue to the point that I can’t think of anything else in my life I am more convicted of: Abortion. Is. Wrong.

Last year around this time I started seeing the emails from the Young Adult Office to hop on the March for Life bus to D.C. I thought, “hm, maybe I should do that,” but of course true to form (and much to event organizer Katie Sahm’s chagrin no doubt) I waited til the last minute and texted her about a half hour before the bus left at 5pm to see if they had any extra seats. They had 2 seats left.

I spent the weekend surrounded by close friends from the St. John’s community. Upon arriving in D.C. we were all put in a somber mood after touring the national Holocaust Museum. On the way out we passed through a large, peaceful memorial space with an eternal flame burning in the middle of the room in memoriam. I thought not only of those who died horrible deaths in the holocaust, but for the millions of babies that have been aborted in this country. I couldn’t help but draw the parallel over March for Life Weekend.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the grim statistics. That on average since 1973, over 2 million babies are aborted every year in this country, while about 1.3 million American soldiers have lost their in ALL conflicts combined since the Revolutionary War… or that more babies are killed in day in this country than all American deaths due to terrorism in the last 10 years. There are many more eye opening stats, however they don’t quite affect you like a personal story.


Robert and other young adults marching and praying for end of abortion in DC, 2013.

While marching with half a million strong was incredibly powerful, what I remember most about that weekend was a conversation I had at a DC bar the night following the march. I struck up a conversation with a woman and I asked where she was from. “You’ll never guess.” She said. Without hesitation, I said “Burma.” She looked at me like she was Rumpelstiltskin and I had just guessed her name. “Who are you?” She said. “No one ever guesses.” It just so happens that I work with Burmese refugees and it’s the first thing that came to my mind, but she didn’t need to know that. She asked what I was in town for and I told her about the march. She said casually, “I am pro-choice. I’ve had three abortions.” My face instantly turned serious. “I’m so sorry,” I said. She tried to convince me that it was OK, and although I was tempted to assuage her conscience, I couldn’t agree with her. The conversation ended in her walking away upset after I told her about counseling services available at Catholic Charities in DC. I pray for her and I often wonder if I made an impact. A conversation I had with a friend this past weekend made me think of that encounter. She was telling me about her friends that had had several abortions. “God,” I said. “Forgive us for killing millions of babies so we need not be inconvenienced!” That conversation did not end well…but while I used to back down in years past for the sake of a nice, easy-going, non-offensive conversation, I can no longer bite my tongue. I don’t feel I’m being the least bit dramatic when I say it’s quite possibly the greatest evil in human history.

I get worked up, unlike my apathetic self a few short years ago. I found it much more difficult than I thought to keep this post from getting lengthy! It’s such an important issue and there is so much to be said. I am so grateful there was a spot for me on that bus so I could attend my first march. I visited my cousin who works in the Capitol building and it was a rush to be introduced to Senators who thanked me for marching in the cold. I attended a standing-room only mass at the largest Catholic church in the country (National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception). We were 500,000+ strong, marching to protect the dignity of life, but a part of me worried about what happens after the march. I had a conversation with a close friend on the bus ride back about “what now?” “Ok, we’re all fired up, but I’m worried we all get back to Indy and a couple weeks from now and the passion fades.” I still haven’t written a letter to our Senator like I said I would. I’m as bad as anyone. Prayers are so important, and please continue to pray for an end to abortion, but how will that come about? What stars need to align to make that happen?

Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has a plan to pass a “life at conception act” that would legally define a human life as beginning at conception, therefore making it illegal to abort the child. It’s worth taking a look. LIFE NEWS.  The tide is turning in this country. Being pro-choice is not even the most popular position anymore. Keep praying, and get involved. Don’t go picking a fight, but don’t back down in tough conversations. Support crisis pregnancy centers. If an expecting mother comes to you in crisis, for God’s sake do everything you can to persuade her to choose life! And lastly, book your spot on the next March for Life trip. You won’t forget it!


Robert has spent the last 7 years in Indianapolis after growing up in Muncie, IN. He works for Catholic Charities, Indianapolis Refugee Program. He is an active supporter of Ball State athletics, and enjoys playing guitar in his indie-rock band, Borrow Tomorrow. Chances are you can find him at the Knights of Columbus planning their next dance. He lives in the downtown area with his 6 freshwater fish.  


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