Unpacking from the March for Life

By Maggie Dewitte

650,000 people Marched for Life in Washington D.C. this year.

650,000 people Marched for Life in Washington D.C. this year.

The 2013 March for life has been over for almost a month now, but I feel like I am still unpacking my bag.  It’s not the typical unpacking of your toothbrush and PJ’s, but rather the unpacking spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.

The same questions pop through my mind every year before the trip:

Why do we go?

Is it worth it?

Are we making a difference?

Before the bus rolled out of the parking lot and I saw the faces of 224 Iowans, I knew the answers to all the questions; this was a trip that must always be offered as long as abortion continues to be the law of the land.

Physical Unpacking

Pilgrimage is a word you hear often.   It is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.  The March for Life really is a pilgrimage in every way.

I feel the bus experience adds to this pilgrimage aspect and gives us the opportunity to sacrifice and suffer.  These are two concepts that in general as human beings we try and stay away from.  We know, however, that as Christians they are an integral part of our life here on earth.

My dad would often tell me growing up to ‘offer it up’ when something was uncomfortable or painful:

Twenty hours on the bus?   Offer it up.

Uncomfortable seats and no leg room?  Offer it up.

No sleep?  Offer it up.

On the flip side of the sacrifice and suffering is the real deep opportunity to take this time to pray, read, educate, and fellowship.

I know I am a bit odd (or as my close friends would nicely say, unique) but I love the bus experience.  As a mother of three young children, I look forward to a time where I can focus on my faith life, talk to adults of a like-mind, or watch a pro-life movie uninterrupted!

Don’t get me wrong, I miss my kiddos like crazy, but I also know that taking some time out for me is also important in making me a better parent.  I also love the witness I am giving my children in going to ‘march for the babies’ as they call it.  And if abortion continues to scourge our land, I do look ahead to the time when my children will go with me to experience this journey for themselves.

Emotional Unpacking

Sometimes when I have a rare quiet moment and I am doing a little day dreaming I think to myself, can this really be happening in our country?

The evolution of our society and the many advances we have in our modern world are profound, yet we are still practicing the barbaric practice of killing our young.  Having worked in the adoption and foster care system for over 15 years, I experienced firsthand the pain, confusion, and fear an unplanned pregnancy caused woman and families.  But in all the countless stories of no resources, no money, no father, no family support, drug/alcohol abuse, rape, incest, etc., there was never one situation that I thought she would be better off having an abortion.

I also saw the effects of abortion on women who came in for post-abortive counseling, and saw first-hand the total destruction abortion caused in these woman’s lives.  The March is filled with signs that state “I Regret My Abortion” and “I Regret My Lost Fatherhood.”

At the conclusion of the March at the steps of the Supreme Court Building, you would hear the pain and suffering of woman who share their story of abortion.  It hits you right at that spot in your throat when you try and swallow hard and keep your lip from quivering.  The March is a healing time for these women and their families and a witness for countless others to not follow in their foot-steps.

Spiritual Unpacking

I think there is rarely a time in your life that you get to ride on a bus and pray for 20 hours.  The abortion issue is spiritual warfare. Prayer is the key.

Just like Advent is preparation for the birth of our Lord, and Lent is preparation for the Resurrection, the bus trip is preparation for the March for life and joining hundreds of thousands all over the country united in this one cause.  It is also preparing you to come back to your community.

I repeatedly say to everyone who will listen, the march is not the be all and end all.  If you go to the March and come home and don’t do a darn thing in the pro-life movement, then the trip was less fruitful than it could have been.  Our words and prayers are important, but so are our works.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can use that renewal to come back to our homes and work.

So, I am back home and I am ready to go.  I was at a party a while back and a friend challenged me that abortion is here to stay.  I could have made a snarky remark back, but instead have really reflected on that comment.  Abortion will be here to stay if good people do nothing.  I am choosing to do something.  I hope you choose to do something too.

March for Life 2014 January 22nd!  Register by November 1st at www.iowansforlife.org.

[Maggie DeWitte is Executive Director for Iowans for LIFE]



  1. Lisa B. on March 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    A million thanks to Iowans for LIFE for all of their tireless efforts on behalf of life, most especially for leading the pilgrimage to the March for Life each and every year for decades. This important pro-life witness is also a life-changing experience for those who participate. Iowans for LIFE plays a key role in making this possible for countless Iowans. Thanks again to Iowans for LIFE!

    • quinersdiner on March 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      I join you in my appreciation for this organization, and for everyone who participated in the March, including you.