The Supreme Court is considering the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has the potential to severely limit or eliminate access to abortion.
Each year since 1974, the March for Life has made its way peacefully through the nation’s capital, its hosts of participants calling for an end to abortion on demand, which the high court ushered in with its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Now that the time may be at hand, the event is coming to various states, where the fight for life will go on.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, recently visited Connecticut for that state’s first march. She says life is winning, even in states as blue as Connecticut.
“We got over 3,000 people out for the first march, which is a good number for a state march, and the enthusiasm was palpable,” Mancini says. “Churches were very active. … There were a lot of periphery events, and I’m hoping and praying that we started just a new spark with the grassroots in Connecticut for life.”
Mancini joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the pro-life movement’s next step, and what a post-Roe world might look like.
We also cover these stories:
- President Joe Biden says he has a plan to cut gas prices by releasing a million barrels of reserve oil per day.
- Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joins Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts and Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson for a Heritage Foundation event titled “Rescuing America.”
- Starting April 11, Americans will have three choices when marking their gender on their passports: male, female, and X.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Douglas Blair: My guest today is Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. Jeanne, welcome to the show.
Jeanne Mancini: Thanks so much for having me.
Blair: This is actually very exciting because you just recently held a state March for Life in Connecticut. Normally the March for Life happens in Washington, D.C., each year, but for certain reasons, you decided to start holding state marches. So how did the march in Connecticut go?
Mancini: It was fantastic.
So, Connecticut is a hostile environment to life. I mean, even as I was doing a radio interview there, one of the commercials that came on during the interview—so obviously, for a not necessarily conservative station—was about physician-assisted suicide. And it’s very hostile to life. It’s definitely a very blue state when it comes to life.
So all of that said, we got over 3,000 people out for the first march, which is a good number for a state march. And the enthusiasm was palpable. Churches were very active. The Catholic Church, the evangelical churches were very active in the march. There were a lot of periphery events. And I’m hoping and praying that we started just a new spark with the grassroots in Connecticut for life.
Blair: That’s wonderful. I’m really glad to hear that it went well. I’m curious, too, what was the makeup of some of the people there? Was it mostly older people? Was it some younger people? What did it look like?
Mancini: A little bit different than the national march. Anyone who’s been to the national march will know that we are primarily young people that participate, a good 80% are young people, students or young adults. This one did have more of an older demographic, although there were plenty of students. I’d say maybe a fifth of the crowd was student-aged.
And there were people with very diverse backgrounds, really reflective of the state of Connecticut. As I looked around out into the crowd and as I was able to speak with people, our speaker lineup kind of showed that, too, but definitely different ethnic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds. And we had some elderly people there, some people with disabilities.
So just some young adults, and really a wide variety. It was a good spattering of what the full life movement is about.
Blair: Good. So, the reason that we’re talking about this now is that the Supreme Court seems primed to either seriously gut or completely strike down Roe v. Wade, and do something in terms of abortion at the federal level. If that is to happen, what are the immediate consequences?
Mancini: We are hoping and praying that is the case. What you’re referring to right now is the Dobbs Mississippi case that’s before the Supreme Court, and they could come out with opinions any day on this. It’s likely that they’ll do that in late June.
And please, God willing, they will overturn Roe, even though the case itself is about allowing states to enact pro-life laws prior to viability, in this case, 15 weeks and later. That’s what the actual case is about.
If Roe is overturned, essentially what happens is the question of pro-life issues returns to the legislative branches in the state, so states are given much more control over what they can and can’t decide. Because under Roe and Doe and Casey, a state like Mississippi right now is not legally allowed to enact a pro-life law that would limit abortions after 15 weeks, which is really shocking.
Blair: So in terms of, again, if Roe is to be either pared back or to be struck down, or we’re supposed to see at a federal level a severe restriction on abortion, what is the March for Life’s plan in a post-Roe world? Do you continue to march on D.C.? Do you continue to go to the states? What is the plan?
Mancini: We will continue to march in D.C. every year because we will still need to march.
What we’re seeing at the federal level right now are really pro-abortion proponents teeing up all sorts of bills and bad things, I would say, for the moment that this decision comes down. And you can see that there’s a lot of fear on their side right now. So we will need to continue fighting at the federal level, no doubt. There’s no question.
However, the role of the states and the pro-life grassroots in the states will be even more important than it’s been in these last years, which it’s already been so important.
And providentially, we began the state march program five years ago and started to fully roll it out in 2019, but then in 2020, we were stymied. But little did we know that this decision would be taken up or this case would be taken up by the Supreme Court and that we could actually be looking at the situation that we’re looking at now, which is that states would have much more control over the laws that can protect life.
So states like Connecticut. Next month, we’ll be in Virginia for the fourth annual Virginia March for Life. We’ll be in California a couple of months later. After that, in Pennsylvania. After that, in Ohio. All of these states are very important and we plan to be in short order in all 50 states.
Blair: And are we seeing that that is having an impact on the ground? I know my home state of Oregon is very, very, very blue and the “right to an abortion” is something that a lot of Oregonians will talk about. Are we seeing that the discussion at the federal level and March for Life at the state level is starting to move the dial or move the needle on this?
Mancini: Absolutely. Let me give you a quick example anecdotally.
We had our first annual California March for Life in Sacramento in August, so 2021 August. And it was a small march, a very blue state. We organized it late in the game because of COVID so we had under 1,000 people that were participating in that.
But even with that small number of marchers, we were able to get the participants to alert their legislators about a bad bill related to health insurance coverage of abortions. And the very next day after the March for Life, that bill was removed from the Assembly floor.
So, yes, definitely, rallying the grassroots has tremendous impact.
But as to the point that you made, being from Oregon and a very blue state and all of this, Connecticut and Oregon, there are similarities. Certainly, Oregon’s probably a little bit further to the left there with some of the issues, but even when we’re having the march, we have the people just chant, “Would you like to make abortion unthinkable?” And if you could just hear the rallying cry of people.
We got text messages from people who were on the House floor in Connecticut. And for those Assembly people to hear the positive and enthusiastic rallying cry outside of people who want to protect life, it does make a difference, it does have an impact. So, yes, I do think that we’re seeing some positive things happening.
Blair: Do we have any data, any polling data that would show where Americans are on abortion? I know that previous polls we’ve seen sometimes say that there’s a viability line that people are comfortable with. Are we seeing that viability line is moving further back? Are we seeing that Americans are more comfortable with the idea of just completely outlawing abortion? Where are Americans at on this issue?
Mancini: Great, great question. It’s important to note before mentioning this poll that America is up there with the likes of North Korea and China in terms of allowing late-term abortion. We’re one of only seven countries—yes, seven countries—around the world that allows late-term abortions. So most European countries do not have laws as wide open on abortion as the United States does.
So what most Americans, most, so this is 7 out of 10 or 8 out of 10 Americans for well over a decade have polled that they would limit abortion at most to the first three months of pregnancy. But under Roe and Doe, abortion is allowed until birth. And pro-abortion advocates are advocating for until birth, paid for by your tax dollars, etc., with no exceptions.
So Americans largely want our laws more reflective of, say, a European country—so 12 weeks, etc. And at the March for Life, we’re really trying to end abortion, to make abortion unthinkable.
Most of the abortions do happen in the first three months of pregnancy, so we’re working there, too. But if we could move in the direction at least of making our laws reflective of the hearts and minds of Americans here and limit it much more than it is limited now, or even allow it to be limited again under Roe.
Blair: Let’s talk about some examples of legislation that’s been passed to limit and completely eliminate abortion in the states. Obviously, the Texas law is a great example, but Oklahoma recently passed a bill that would ban all medically unnecessary abortions in the state. Is that the type of legislation March for Life is looking for?
Mancini: You know, we are favorable toward most legislation. I don’t have the language of the bill right in front of me right now, but certainly, we want to move in the direction to the protection of life.
And I have to say, I was surprised by the Texas bill and I’m still surprised that it’s on the books. But to see how this has come to pass and to see, here we are, five, six months later, that how many lives have been saved, how many pregnancies centers are really teeing up with greater resources for men and women facing unexpected pregnancies, etc., it’s just been beautiful. So we’re strongly behind that law.
I’d like to look at, I think you said it was Ohio.
Mancini: Oklahoma. Oh, I’m so sorry. I’d like to look at that before I comment on it publicly.
Blair: Absolutely. Totally fair.
Mancini: So I’m not going to do that right now, but yeah, yeah.
Blair: Yeah, no, I think definitely, it would be very good to have the precise language in front of you before making a decision.
One of the things that I’ve always been curious about, I mentioned that I’m from Portland, Oregon, and I would talk with friends of mine who are very pro-abortion and they would say things like, “Well, it’s the woman’s right to choose.” As a guy, for me, this is kind of different because I obviously don’t understand that, I’m not a woman.
Is there a campaign here that pro-choice women or pro-abortion women are waging against pro-life women in the fact of getting these types of bills repealed or keeping Roe v. Wade on the books? How is that dynamic affecting what March for Life does?
Mancini: Well, gosh, there’s so much manipulative messaging out there about abortion.
And what we try to do with the march is to show it as it is, and especially to allow women to tell their stories, and then also to talk about how we are walking with mothers in need, and how critically important that is. How not only is the mother a person with dignity, but the baby is, too, and so we want to support them both and to love them both.
What I’ve seen so often is that young women who, I don’t know, they don’t really hear both sides of the issue have really erroneous ideas that abortion is empowering for women. And then, gosh, so sadly, we have many, many anecdotes of that not being the case, of it really decimating a woman.
And it’s so important, especially in a podcast like this where you’ve got such a large audience, to mention that there’s always hope and healing. So if you know of someone or if you yourself have been involved in an abortion, there’s always hope and healing after abortion.
But the reality is that we know that women suffer tremendously after abortion, most women. I can’t say every single woman but most women suffer more with substance abuse issues, more with depression and anxiety, and sadly, suicidal thoughts. So it’s definitely not good for women’s mental health.
So anyways, there’s so much there and I think that the bottom line is that the other side has done some really powerful messaging on this, but you can call something a different name but that doesn’t change reality. Reality is not arbitrary and the truth is, and it won’t ever change, that abortion is not good for women, that abortion takes the life of one and it wounds the life of another.
Blair: Now, we’ve been going through this conversation with the expectation that things will be more positive. We’ve been looking at these states’ bills that are restrictive of abortion. But what is March for Life planning to do if, for example, Roe isn’t overturned, or even if it is enshrined in federal law? What is the plan then?
Mancini: Great question because it’s true, we don’t know how things will come down in June. We do know that they’ve made their decision, they could change it any time, they made their committee vote the Friday after Dec. 1 when oral arguments were.
We will keep marching.
Of course, there was this time when Planned Parenthood v. Casey was before the Supreme Court, where there were many hopeful and positive expectations, and it didn’t turn out that way.
But listen, at the end of the day, our goal is to make abortion unthinkable, which means changing hearts and minds so that no woman wants to choose abortion and that she has the resources she needs to feel the support to choose life.
So whether the Supremes come down with a positive decision, which would be immense and historic and all of that, or not, we still keep margins the next day, figuratively and symbolically, in how we’re building the culture of life.
Blair: The culture of life, I think, is such a fascinating phrase because it really is a culture. And to me, culture is influenced a lot by the young. So young people who are going to be growing up, who are going to be teaching their children, who are going to be passing on these messages. There’s a stereotype that younger Americans skew to the left and therefore are more likely to be pro-choice. Are we seeing a rise in younger Americans becoming more pro-life and joining this pro-life culture?
Mancini: Absolutely. Anecdotally, come to the March for Life, right? So, for one. Two, take a look at one of my favorite surveys on this to look at, the General Social Survey, which is this longitudinal look at the data that the government, the federal government, has done. And by a wide margin, young people are the largest demographic, the largest cohort that has moved in the direction of protecting life and becoming more pro-life. So, yes.
One other quick, fun story. The then-head of NARAL Pro-Choice America—who take credit for being the architects behind legalized abortion in America—her name is Nancy Keenan, maybe about 10 years ago, was in town and out for lunch during a March for Life one day and she was blown away by the amount of young people and their positivity and their signs and their T-shirts and all this.
And she made the decision to step down from her job shortly thereafter because she thought that her side wasn’t recruiting young people in the way that they needed to, and that they needed to have better marketing skills.
What she didn’t realize is that the young people realize that the product is flawed. It’s not the product that needs better marketing, it’s just that it’s inherently flawed and young people are attracted to life and to love and to a culture of life.
Blair: As we begin to wrap-up here, I’m curious, we’re waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court, so I think before the act comes down, it’s very tough to take any solid action. But as Americans are waiting for that decision, what can people who are part of this culture of life, who are concerned with the way abortion is going and concerned with Roe v. Wade and Casey, what can they do to either fight against abortion in their state or to spread the message of a pro-life culture at the grassroots level?
Mancini: OK. So many things that you can do. For starters, each of us is called to do differently. So to take a deep look in your heart, to think about: “What am I called to do? How can I contribute to a culture of life?” Because I feel like everybody can answer that best in their own way.
But let me give a few examples and a few suggestions. So for one, you could do something like join 40 Days for Life and pray outside abortion centers. We know that abortions go down and that people are converted to the issue, but even if you’re not a person of faith, there are so many wonderful things. You can run for school board, you can write a letter to the editor, you can give a donation to a pregnancy care center in your local area, give a donation to the March for Life or any other pro-life group.
You can go volunteer at a local pregnancy care center. I mean, these centers are incredible with the resources that they give men and women facing unexpected pregnancies—well over $270 million annually, which is just unbelievable, in free resources.
You can join a march in your state, like people in Connecticut or here in Virginia next month. Get online. You can sign up for our activist alert so that when something’s coming up at the federal level or at your state, you can text in or email in or write a letter to your elected official to make a difference.
So, listen, there’s no lack of work to be done in the pro-life movement and what we really need is for everybody to do their part.
Blair: I think that’s great advice. That was Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. Jeanne, really appreciate your time.
Mancini: So grateful. Thanks for having me on.
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