This January, I was able to join thousands of pro-lifers from across the Midwest marching down Michigan Avenue in support of pre-born babies. Since 2015, our firm TC Public Relations has joined the March For Life Chicago as a partner. Over the years, Illinois has become Ground Zero in the “fight for life.” (Because we have been with them this long, we have seen these dramatic changes.)
On the one hand, we’ve seen the march grow from 1,000 to 9,000 participants, which is a great joy for me. Sadly, on the other side, we have seen Illinois go from being certainly one of the more pro-abortion states to wanting to declare itself the most pro-abortion state. What matters most is how we’ll move forward with a fresh vision in 2022 and beyond with the organizations at the March For Life Chicago who are working proactively to turn the state around for pro-life.
Many pro-life speakers at the March For Life Chicago helped to cast that vision including weDignify’s Dante Bucci, Illinois State Representative Avery Bourne, Pastor Chris Butler, Kelly Dore, and Sister Alicia Torres.
For me, here are the four key takeaways from the event worth noting:
#1 Powerful Calls to Action From a Sex Trafficking Victim
One of the most amazing quotes from the event came from Kelly Dore, a sex trafficking survivor, and international public policy advisor. Dore is also the founder of the National Human Trafficking Survivor Coalition and the director of Sierra Cares Foundation.
“I am a wife, I’m a mother … a non-profit founder, a Catholic … and I am unabashedly proud to say I am pro-life,” she said. “It is not a political ideology; it is a human rights issue across the board,” Dore added. “As a survivor of childhood trauma, we cannot sit here and say some lives are more valuable than others.”
#2 Packed House, Despite COVID
Despite all the challenges pushing against a public witness for life, this entire event was packed with passionate pro-life advocates.
The March for Life Chicago Convention was full, which is a very uncommon occurrence in our current COVID environment. While the outdoor rally and march were the keystone events of an entire day of activities, the Chicago Hilton hosted a full schedule of educational breakout sessions, a youth rally, and a pro-life partner organizations expo, where TC Public Relations staff had an opportunity to speak with pro-life advocates from across the heartland.
#3 Most Media Coverage Ever
This year there was more advanced Chicago media coverage prior to the march than ever before. Chicago’s ABC 7 was previewing the march in their early newscast, which excited participants even before the actual 2022 march began.
There could be a couple of reasons for the extra coverage this year. The presence of COVID and social distancing creates a stark contrast to a large-scale assembly. The second possibility is that the pro-life movement is taking more ground and receiving more support, especially with Roe v. Wade having an anniversary and the potential for an overturn.
News coverage likes to capitalize on anniversaries, legislative possibilities, and highlighting events that represent large groups of people, so the March for Life Chicago checked all those boxes.
#4 Illinois as a Future “Abortion Destination”?
Dr. Steve Jacobs of Illinois Right to Life predicted that an overturn of Roe v. Wade could result in as many as 8.9 million women traveling to Illinois for an abortion (according to the Guttmacher Institute). This would make the state a destination for abortions because of its lax regulations.
Jacobs was also a featured speaker at a youth rally run by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. During this rally, middle and high school youth were given the opportunity to receive pro-life training and be inspired by powerful testimonies.
Capitalize on the Pro-Life Message in the Media
The planning and execution committee for the event did an excellent job, and it was evident that people were excited to be there. Much work was put into promotion and visibility, so that like its counterpart in Washington D.C., the quality has made it a must-do event for pro-life advocates.
The positive ripple effects of March for Life Chicago were so good, that even weeks later, the Chicago Tribune called March for Life leadership to share their expert comments about the current state of abortion in Illinois.