WASHINGTON —The March for Life announced the theme for its 2023 march, the first to take place after the overturning of Roe v. Wade and outlined new strategies for eradicating abortion in the next phase of the pro-life movement.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini revealed the theme Thursday during an event hosted in partnership with conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation. The 50th annual march’s theme is “Next Steps: Marching in a post-Roe America” and will be held on Jan. 20, 2023.
The pro-life leader outlined during her opening remarks how the movement can focus on dismantling abortion at the state level following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Mancini said she’s frequently been asked whether the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is still necessary in light of Roe’s reversal.
“Let me say this: Critical to our strategic plan is continuing to boldly march in Washington, D.C., every January,” she said. “But we won’t march to the Supreme Court anymore. We will now be marching to the Capitol.”
Mancini’s remarks suggest that in the absence of Roe, the focus should shift to pushing for the enactment of pro-life laws at the federal and state level. Along with the national march, Mancini urged pro-lifers to march in their state capitals. She added that the March for Life has been working on a state march initiative for about five years and the intention is to be in all 50 states within seven years.
During a question-and-answer session at the end of the news conference, Mancini said the annual March for Life will continue to take place around Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe ruling. She called the 1973 decision a “scar in our culture’s history and our country’s history,” stressing the need to remember it to prevent it from happening again.
“While we celebrate that we’re at this new moment, we don’t not think [about] or commemorate D-Day because we got past World War II,” Mancini added.
In an interview with The Christian Post after the theme's unveiling, the March for Life president said her organization has implemented its state march initiative in five states: California, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Mancini said the first state march was in Virginia in 2019, with over 7,500 people in attendance. In March, Connecticut hosted its first state-level march with over 3,000 in attendance for what Mancini described as an “energetic” and “powerful” event.
“Little did we know that Roe would be overturned and the states would be all the more important,” she said. “We put a lot of time and energy into this before everything changed, so now, we’re positioned to grow.”
“Next year will be 10 states. And God willing, we’ll be in 20 states the year after that, and we’ll continue to grow and grow.”
Mancini told CP that March for Life partners with different state-level pro-life organizations, including California Family Council, and divides up responsibilities for the state march initiative. The pro-life leader said that the March for Life is also planning to “rapidly” expand its staff, as it currently has two full-time members working on the project.
Other speakers at the theme unveiling included Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, Jonathan Keller from the California Family Council, and pro-life OB/GYN Dr. Marguerite Duane. Originally slated to attend was Dr. Alveda King, the niece of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., but a video recording of her was played instead.
During his speech, Roberts encouraged those in attendance and watching online to embody their pro-life beliefs in the way they treat others, including those who disagree. He also called for building stronger families, cities, states and republics, saying this is the “long view” for the movement.
“I know not just as an academic and as the president of Heritage, but most importantly, as an American citizen and a dad and a husband, that that is going to happen because you can always trust the American people to do the right thing,” he said.
Keller’s speech emphasized how every state has a role to play in a post-Roe society, adding that it's “vitally important” for every state capital to have a March for Life program.
“We cannot simply abandon blue states and retreat to red states,” he said, pointing to California’s efforts to prevent the nation from becoming fully pro-life. He cited SB 1142, a bill that pays for out-of-state women to have abortions in California, as one example of legislation embraced by the state that demonstrates outright hostility toward the pro-life movement and the rights of unborn babies.
Last month, the state passed over a dozen bills aimed at expanding abortion access and protecting it through legislation. California also launched a $1 million website and a billboard campaign in pro-life states to market abortion to the rest of the country.
“The next steps of marching into a post-Roe America are going to involve every single one of us, at every single level of government, at every single level of our churches and our families,” Keller concluded.
Duane’s speech responded to claims that abortion bans prevent doctors from treating women for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or other pregnancy conditions that might pose a risk to the mother’s life or health.
“It is simply a lie to say that we cannot provide appropriate medical care,” she insisted, explaining that there is a difference between deliberately killing the unborn and providing treatment for a legitimate pregnancy-related pathology.
The 2023 March for Life speakers were also announced. The event will feature Tony Dungy, a former National Football League head coach known for adopting eight children. Actor Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the TV series “The Chosen,” will be the keynote speaker at the March for Life’s post-event Rose Dinner in addition to speaking at the march itself. The Christian band “We Are Messengers” is also expected to perform at the march.
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.