Over two dozen Yalies will march in Washington, D.C. today along with thousands of pro-life supporters in protest of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision which ruled that the Constitution protects abortion rights.
As part of the 39th annual March for Life, 15 undergraduate members of Choose Life at Yale and 11 members of the Yale Divinity School’s Right to Life Fellowship will march from the National Mall to the steps of the Supreme Court in an event that has drawn over 200,000 people in past years. Students attending the march said the annual event, which falls on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, re-energizes them to promote their pro-life views, which are not widely held on Yale’s campus.
“It’s an uphill battle when you’re a smaller group and you’re unpopular on campus,” Eduardo Andino ’13, CLAY president, said. “When you have a conscience that tells you that you’re fighting for something as precious as human life, it makes it much easier to continue.”
Notable speakers at the event include Speaker of the House John Boehner, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Allan Parker, lead legal counsel for “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade.
Attendees interviewed said the march presents an opportunity to connect with other young people who share their views. The CLAY members will march with students from Harvard, Princeton and Columbia.
Josh McCormick DIV ’12, a member of YDSRLF, said the fact that only a small portion of Yale’s student body is pro-life drives him to actively voice his stance. Still, he said engaging with students who oppose his view actually helps him to better understand his own position.
“Knowing that there’s people … who disagree with you is important,” he said. “Sitting down and talking with those people is an important part of answering the question of abortion for oneself.”
Some students interviewed who attended the march said they expect Roe v. Wade to be overturned eventually, though they said it would take time.
Not every member in pro-life groups on campus agreed with the march’s message. Eric Gregory DIV ’13, former vice president of YDNRLF, disagreed with the movement’s stance that abortions are unwarranted in all circumstances.
“I am associated with the group, but I do not seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, as I understand the necessity of terminating some pregnancies,” Gregory said.
As the students journey to Washington, D.C., several student groups are organizing events on campus about the issue, such as a debate sponsored by the Yale Political Union on Tuesday.
Zak Newman ’13, president of the Yale College Democrats, said he thinks the issue of abortion is often inappropriately used to achieve political objectives.
“Abortion is a rallying point for conservatives at Yale, but it’s not an issue that many liberals are working on,” Newman said. “The issue’s use as a political tool is disrespectful both to the difficulty of the decision for woman and to the seriousness of other issues like restoring our middle class.”
Each of the six students interviewed who are attending the march expressed different reasons why they feel abortion is a issue worth addressing.
McCormick said he hopes the march will attract national attention in the same way that other movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, have attracted national attention..
But Craig Ford DIV ’12, president and founder of YDSRLF who has attended March for Life six times, said his attendance was motivated by a desire to advocate for his values.
“My pro-life stance is grounded in the notion of human dignity, accessible from religious and nonreligious backgrounds,” he said. “The pro-life ethic is a truly human ethic.”
Lauren Hoedeman DIV ’13 said she is attending the March for Life to support women’s rights.
“It is imperative to work to build resources for women who are pregnant in difficult situations — for the sake of both woman and baby,” she said.
Roe v. Wade, which overturned many state and federal restrictions on abortion, was decided by a 7–2 vote on Jan. 22, 1973.
Correction Jan. 24, 2012
An earlier version of this article incorrectly implied that Josh McCormick DIV ’12 believed abortion protests to be competing with Occupy protests for attention.