Virginia March for Life highlights importance of gubernatorial election
The Virginia March for Life in Richmond, Sept. 17, 2021. / Christine Rousselle/CNA
Richmond, Va., Sep 17, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
Pro-life Virginians took to the streets of Richmond on Friday as part of the third annual Virginia March for Life.
The Sept. 17 march took place in the literal shadow of the Virginia capitol, and in the figurative shadow of the upcoming gubernatorial election. Early voting began Friday, and the election was a main point of many of the pre-march rally speeches.
“Today is the first day of early voting. So we're excited to be ushering in this voting season with pro-lifers,” Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation of Virginia, told CNA prior to the rally. Cobb’s organization assisted with orchestrating the march.
Virginia, said Cobb, has “a pro-abortion majority in our legislature and a pro abortion governor, and we're sending $6 million straight out of our tax dollars, straight into the hands of the abortion industry.”
“These folks are here to say enough is enough. And today they're going to March and they're gonna March around the Capitol and make their statement,” she said. “And then they're going to March on over to the registrar's office and they're going to go vote for pro-life candidates.”
Volunteers were on hand to register people to vote as they left the capitol grounds.
If the election in November results in pro-life candidates getting elected, Cobb told CNA that she thinks their first priority should be to defund the abortion industry.
“We've got to immediately strike all that funding that goes to the abortion industry out of the budget,” she said. “And we've got to get back the pro-life laws that we had for years and years on the books.”
Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony List, also spoke at the pre-march rally. Quigley told CNA that Friday was an important day for “the future of pro-life policy here in Virginia.”
“We want to make sure that pro-life Virginians know who the pro-life candidate is in this very important upcoming race,” said Quigley, “Virginia's gubernatorial race is going to be a bellwether for 2022.”
The leading candidates in the race are Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, and Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.
Quigley said that it was important to remind people that Gov. Ralph Northam, who actively supported a law that would allow abortion until birth and removed protections for babies born alive after botched abortions, had endorsed McAuliffe.
“Last night during the debate McAuliffe said that the two of them have been a brick walls against pro-life policy here in Virginia,” said Quigley.
With the conversation from the speakers at the rally mainly highlighting the need to elect pro-life candidates, at least one pro-life Democrat was at the march.
Craig Rew, from Short Pump, was clad in a pro-life Democrat hat and was toting a Democrats for Life of America sign. He told CNA that he was at the march “to show that there are pro-life Democrats.”
Rew explained that he believed that “life is a progressive idea,” and that “abortion is not the solution to any problems.”
Abortion, he said, “is the problem.”
Hannah Clarke of Richmond came to the march along with her church, Staples Mill Road Baptist Church, and her nearly-four-month-old baby. She told CNA that while she had long considered herself to be pro-life, the experience of becoming a mother made her even more so.
“What better reason to fight for life now that I have my own? I’m even more pro-life now that I have a baby. I didn't know if that was possible,” said Clarke.
For Clarke, her pro-life beliefs are rooted in both faith and reason.
“The root of the issue is that [those in favor of abortion] don't mind killing babies because they don't see them as human,” she said. “And that's where we need to get back to science. Like you don't even have to argue it from a religious standpoint, if you don't want to. The majority of scientists agree that life begins at conception.”
She said it was particularly challenging to see the reaction to the law recently enacted in Texas.
“I just want everyone, regardless of their faith, or lack thereof, to realize you're just laughing in the face of science and damaging people more than more than they realize,” she said.
Adulthood and motherhood reinforcing pro-life beliefs was a common theme among the attendees CNA spoke to.
“I was always pro-life--my family was pro-life--but I think that it really came home for me as an adult,” Liz Ferraro, from King George, Va., told CNA. “When you learn how gruesome abortion is, when you learn what it is, and you learn what it looks like, and how it ends a human life.”
Abortion, she said, “is not just a choice, it’s a person.”
The experience of having her own children, and “seeing the sonograms when they’re only six weeks old” with their “little nubs” for limbs, helped cement her views.
“It’s just unbelievable that (people think) it’s okay to murder them,” said Ferraro.
The Virginia March for Life is one of several state-specific marches this year. With the Supreme Court considering Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which will decide the constitutionality of pre-viability restrictions on abortion, abortion could once again become an issue to be decided by states.
For Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, this represents an opportunity for the pro-life movement. In recent years, even prior to knowing that the Supreme Court would be considering Dobbs, the March for Life has focused on certain states to drum up pro-life support.
“We’re very active in the states as well,” she said. “Last month we were in California. Here we are today in Richmond, and in two weeks, we’ll be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.”
She said it would be “interesting” to see how the state-level continues to progress. Virginia, Mancini explained, has undergone “a radical shift in the direction of abortion extremism” over the past two years.
“So, in Virginia it is important to win it back,” she said. “I mean, the two candidates that are running for governor right now could not be more different in this particular issue. Do we want a Northam 2.0, or do we want to try to take Virginia back for life?”
Looking ahead, Mancini told CNA that she is hopeful things will be changing both in the cultural and legal realms.
“I certainly hope that the Supreme Court goes in the direction of sending these questions to the states,” she said.
“Our goal at the March for Life is to make abortion unthinkable. I can’t tell you how happy I’d be to work myself out of a job. That would be wonderful.”