This past Saturday — exactly one year after Roe V. Wade was overturned — pro-life advocates from across the nation gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the very first National Celebrate Life Day.
The rally, hosted by various pro-life coalitions such as 40 Days for Life, Live Action, and Students for Life, celebrated the anniversary of the momentous Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision overturning the wrongly established precedent constitutionally guaranteeing a right to abortion.
The Federalist was on the ground at the event and heard from many of the featured pro-life speakers including, Michael Knowles of The DailyWire, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, and former vice-president Mike Pence. We also spoke with some of the rally attendees.
During the event, each speaker excitedly reflected on the reality of the moment — rejoicing and thanking those present for their dedication to the fight for life. Many of the speakers also remembered the moment, one year prior, when the Dobbs decision officially ushered in the Post-Roe Generation.
“For many, that moment might have seemed like the culmination of my work, of your work, of the 1,400 Students for Life chapters across the nation, and the work of so many heroes who assured we reached that day,” Kristan Hawkins said to the crowd.
As Hawkins spoke, she reminded her fellow pro-life advocates that last year’s overturning “wasn’t the twilight of our mission … but a new dawn, a new dawn for our nation.”
During the rally, The Federalist spoke with Anna Lulis, one of Hawkin’s colleagues who works as a digital engagement strategist for Students for Life of America.
“We’re hosting this event … because it is a big moment in history,” Lulis said. “We’ve saved — that we know of — 32,000 … ‘unwanted’ babies in America, which is … beautiful.”
Anna Lulis, a student, and her fellow advocates at Students for Life of America agree that this is worth celebrating. “It just shows you that pro-life laws work, and people should be valuing life,” she said.
But Lulis also echoed the fact that the fight is far from over.
“It’s great that we were able to reverse Roe V. Wade, but there’s a new dream for the pro-life movement,” she said, “and that is to abolish abortion in America.”
“That starts with the federal government protecting every single human life by protecting all human rights from the womb and at the moment of conception.”
When Roe was overturned, decisions regarding abortion laws were returned to the states. However, this means that many state legislatures still deprive preborn humans of their fundamental right to life. Both rally attendees and speakers agreed that until these rights are protected in every state, the fight must go on.
“Human beings don’t forfeit their right to life just because they have the misfortune of being born under the butcherous regimes of California and New York,” Michael Knowles said in his speech.
“I’m all for states’ rights, but no state has the right to murder,” he continued. “Murder is not a right … because murder is wrong. And no one — no individual, no state, no nation — has the right to do wrong.”
The 50-year judicial rule of Roe and false advertisement of abortion as reproductive “healthcare” wreaked havoc on the nation. Our country has suffered a great loss.
As Mike Pence solemnly put it, “We can never bring back those 62 million American lives whose voices were never heard in this world.”
And while the abortion industry is responsible for the murder of these children, it has also deprived many women of motherhood. Women do not often know their options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Organizations like Planned Parenthood take advantage of this; after the violent act of murder has been committed, many women come out of it physically and psychologically damaged — and alone.
Unlike the abortion industry, the truly pro-life movement advocates for the healing and transformation of women and families. Further progress necessitates a holistic approach.
As Michael Knowles put it, “If abortion is to end, it will end with a restoration of the things that create and foster life.”
While speaking with The Federalist, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America — a pro-life organization concerned not only with protecting the lives of the preborn but also with providing holistic care for women and mothers — said, “We also want to make abortion unthinkable.”
She continued, “We want to provide women with the resources they need and make them aware of the resources that already exist to help them to choose life.”
Because this holistic effort is now possible at the state level, many pro-lifers are focusing on local change.
The Federalist asked Caitlin Robinson — a young rally-goer from upstate New York — what her next steps are as she advocates for life in her community.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We need more people involved in sidewalk counseling … We need more people involved in churches and in other community organizations with serving, and we also need a movement to get even our Republican politicians in New York to be more pro-life.”
Caitlin was in good company at the rally, which was well attended by young members of the Post-Roe Generation.
Among them was a group of students from the Tri-Cities area in Washington state who were on their senior trip. The event took place right before they returned home, which was, as they put it, “perfect timing.”
“We’re part of Students for Life,” one of them told The Federalist. “We’ve been protesting at Planned Parenthood and doing lots of tabling events … trying to talk to people in our area about pro-life stuff.”
“Being willing to have discussions with people and just keeping on fighting for the truth — it’s just really important,” said another.
“I think we need to keep praying, and I think there’s really power in prayer,” one student said. “I’m hoping that we can fight that battle that way.”
Hearing from the speakers and having discussions with the attendees made it clear that for many, the fight for life is inextricably connected with a walk of faith.
Among the attendees was a small group of Dominican Friars from Washington, D.C., who approached both the rally’s victory and call to action from the perspective of their specific beliefs.
Brother Basil Burroughs reflected on how this day was both a momentous celebration of the one-year anniversary of Roe’s overturning, as well as an official holy day within his faith.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing to celebrate this on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, who leaped for joy from the womb when he met our lord,” he said.
Like many other advocates present, Brother Burroughs was grateful to be “celebrating the goodness that has been achieved” while also commending those committed to the continued fight.
Religious or non-religious, the rally-goers agreed on two key things. First, life deserves to be protected — it is worthy of the fight. And second, there is hope for victory. The movement is stronger than ever before, and events like the National Celebration of Life Day rally remind pro-lifers that progress is possible when they come together.
“I think this [event] is what we needed to keep on pushing because some people are not so supportive. But there are also so many that love life in all of its stages,” said one of the pro-life students from the Pacific Northwest.
As Hawkins declared in her speech, the overturning of Roe V. Wade was a “new dawn” for America. But hope for further triumph — for a complete sunrise — is what motivates the pro-life movement.
“Sooner or later, the victory is sure to come,” Hawkins said in the conclusion of her speech. “High noon. Equal rights for all — born and preborn — is coming to America.”