With President Trump speaking, will March for Life finally get media's attention?

Every January, hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages, and from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds, gather in Washington, D.C., to march for the most fundamental of all human rights: The right to life. Yet every year, the mainstream media gives relatively scant attention to the huge crowd.

This is especially odd when you consider the nature of their protest. Unlike most demonstrations for various causes, participating in the March for Life is inherently selfless. Those partaking aren’t doing so because they want to achieve a specific policy goal for themselves. They are marching and speaking on behalf of those who cannot do so themselves: The most vulnerable and innocent members of our human family.

And rather than an expression of anger or frustration about policy or public figures, the March is at its heart a hopeful, albeit somber, demonstration that is inspiring and forward-looking. This year’s theme, “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” underscores the true dignity of both women and their unborn children.

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Despite this, according to the Media Research Center, last year networks gave 15 times more coverage to the Women’s March than the March for Life. And of course, when mainstream outlets such as CNN and the Washington Post did pay attention to the March for Life last year, it came in the form of false and reckless reporting about minor high school students from Covington Catholic High School. In light of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE’s announcement that he will be the first sitting president to address the March in person, perhaps more media organizations will tune in and report on the massive demonstration.

If so, they’ll see that the pro-life movement has made remarkable progress to reorient hearts and minds to respect human life, born and unborn. In the last decade, more than 400 pro-life laws have passed at the state level, and the nationwide abortion rate has been on a long-term downward trend, having fallen a remarkable 50 percent since 1980. An immensely important factor in this decline is the increasing percentage of unintended pregnancies that are carried to term.

Imagine if, in addition to covering the March for Life, more mainstream media outlets covered the remarkable consensus among Americans across political persuasions supporting significant abortion restrictions. For the last decade, at least 70 percent of Americans have repeatedly supported limiting abortion after three months of pregnancy — including nearly half of those who identify as pro-choice. 

Imagine if the mainstream media reported on the stark disparity between how Democrats poll on abortion compared to how politicians vote. Fewer than 4 in 10 Democrats support elective abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Yet well-funded actors like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have exerted their influence on elected officials to the extent that even commonsense, widely supported policies like the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act cannot even receive a vote in the House of Representatives.

Infants can and do survive abortions; this is not a hypothetical problem. And current law leaves these children vulnerable because practitioners are not required to provide proper medical care to these infants. A bill such as this should not be controversial, and yet the abortion lobby has convinced many in Congress that requiring medical care for babies who survive abortion is, somehow, and assault on “reproductive health care.”

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By any objective measure, this position is extreme and does not reflect the views of the vast majority of Americans. One would think the media would be interested in at the very least asking questions about this extraordinary disparity, but alas.

Imagine if the media covered the lengths pro-life Americans are going to support women facing the reality of a challenging or unplanned pregnancy. Of all the lazy smears pro-life Americans face, the smear that they are simply pro-birth rather than pro-life is the laziest of all. It is demonstrably false; the pro-life movement cares deeply about these women, many who feel that abortion is their only option.

While abortion ends a pregnancy, pro-life Americans understand that it doesn’t address the root of other factors, including economic factors, sexual risk avoidance or an unhealthy relationship with an intimate partner. More than 2,500 pregnancy resource centers, and countless churches, civic organizations and individuals have stepped up to support mothers and their courageous decision to choose life. And millions of Americans have opened their hearts and homes through foster care and adoption.

Hopefully this year, more people will have the opportunity to see the pro-life movement firsthand and better understand the heart of what animates their fellow Americans to speak on behalf of those not yet born. As Fr. Richard John Neuhaus stated in what has been characterized as the greatest pro-life speech ever given, beyond limiting abortion through legal channels, the pro-life movement is ultimately animated by a desire to see abortion as unthinkable. In other words, the culture of life must be both “reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.”

Melanie Israel is a researcher in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).