The Case AGAINST Partisan Apparel at Pro-Life Rallies

Pro-life and anti-abortion advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court early Monday, June 25, 2018. The justices are expected to hand down decisions today as the court's term comes to a close. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By now, the entire world is aware of what happened inWashington, D.C. last week after the annual March for Life rally.

The initial, media-fueled report was that a group of white, male students from Covington Catholic High School had surrounded and mocked a Native American man and self-described veteran (a claim we’re uncertain about at this point) who had been attending the nearby Indigenous Peoples March. At first glance, the original video seemed to confirm the news. However, once a longer video was released and onlookers and even participants began to share their stories, the first story imploded.


The Covington students had been ridiculed and harassed by others, specifically, a group of Black Hebrew Israelites before the widely-seen incident between Nick Sandmann and Nathan Philips. Phillips walked through the parting crowd, stood in front of the student, and beat a drum in the student’s face. Sandmann, unaware of how to react, stood there and smiled rather awkwardly. There was no racist targeting of an elderly man.

In the days since, writers, media figures, and even some celebrities have publicly apologized for assuming the worst because they didn’t wait for, or perhaps didn’t want, to see the whole picture in favor of a narrative. Personally, I chose not to write about the incident because at first, it was unclear what had actually happened. I decided to wait for more facts before even discussing it. I’m glad I took a step back to ponder while others rushed forward into the emotional fray.

Hopefully, the ongoing clamor will die down soon allowing the Covington students to return to a normal life free from the threats and doxxing they have unfortunately received. Looking back, we’ll all have learned a lesson.

But there is one general point I wish to make that was reinforced by this incident: refrain from wearing any type of partisan apparel at a pro-life rally or march.

For those who are unaware, the pro-life movement is one of diversity and inclusiveness. The staunch defense of unborn life is not only a cause for one race, gender, or creed. As I wrote about on the day of the march itself, there is room for all who defend the innocent.


…the unity in our diversity is shockingly evident. At these conferences, many groups are represented. They include Democrats for Life, Secular Pro-Life, and The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, just to name a few. The pro-life movement isn’t about fitting a mold of appearance or background; it’s about declaring that abortion is an evil which preys on the most defenseless, helpless of all. Standing as one in this truth doesn’t require you share a faith, creed, political persuasion, or even sexual orientation.

To be part of the pro-life movement, you must do this: believe in and protect the sanctity of life in the womb and beyond.

There is nothing so fundamental as the right to life. Because of that, the pro-life cause should work very hard at not shutting others out for any reason. Racism should never be tolerated. In addition, those who make up the movement should neither ask others to subscribe to one political persuasion nor ostracize individuals who differ in every other way but our shared, unifying principle. If the pro-life movement is to make a true, cultural impact and expand to include more than just people of faith and Republicans, it must do that.

Partisan apparel should never enter the scene. Leave your political slogan hats, t-shirts, buttons, and attitudes at home.

As Professor Charles Camosy, a board member of Democrats for Life, wrote in early December, there is much need for improvement (emphasis mine).

…while the March features the occasional Democratic politician or openly liberal pro-life activist, the speakers’ list and political tone in recent years have become overwhelmingly Republican and conservative. Increasingly, and especially with Trump speaking last year, those who identify with a different political ideology have been alienated from the most important pro-life march in the country — as well as the most important annual pro-life strategic meetings that surround the March.

This alienation is among the factors pushing non-conservative pro-life organizations such as New Wave Feminists, Rehumanize International, Secular Pro-Life, Democrats for Life, Consistent Life, among others, to hold alternative events at the March. This is a disaster for a number of reasons, among them that the pro-life movement will never meet our goals unless we can be understood as a broad-based human rights movement — and not merely as a Republican or conservative constituency.


As a conservative, I couldn’t agree more. Dan McLaughlin, formerly of RedState and currently a columnist at National Review, agrees as well.

Advancing the cause of life, not that of a temporary politician or movement, is the point of this whole thing. Period.

If you’ve read this far and believe I’m saying that the Covington students in those red hats deserve the taunts and negative attention they’ve received, then you’re being willfully obtuse. No one deserves to be treated with such abhorrent ridicule simply because of their attire, polarizing as that certain hat has become. This is common sense.

Many will say, “But look, only Republicans care about advancing any type of pro-life legislation! That’s why this is a one-party issue!” Yes, yes. That’s been true for the most part; but don’t you want it to change?

Don’t you want protection of life to be a bipartisan-backed effort?

Don’t you wish that Congress had enough pro-life individuals on both sides to finally defund Planned Parenthood? Because so far, the GOP has been unsuccessful in seeing that task to completion and your tax money continues to fund Planned Parenthood.

Don’t you want the stage at the March for Life to include a diverse group of people who join together in one mission and speak out for the voiceless unborn?


Well, you should want all of those things. And you can help by not promoting the pro-life issue as solely a Republican issue. You can also contribute to the effort by not dragging political gear into your appearances.

Today is the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a disastrous decision that spelled out doom for nearly 60,000,000 unborn lives and counting. Doesn’t that holocaust demand that we set aside our partisanship? Isn’t that the least we could do?

I hope that in the future, the pro-life cause expands to include people from all walks of life and eyes, all political background.

We don’t have to agree on taxes to believe in the inherent worth of the unborn.

We don’t have to share the same thoughts on education to support the right to life.

We don’t have to support the same politician in order to be disgusted by the legal crime of abortion.

In the end, it’s all those innocent lives in the womb. We defend their homogeneity without question. It’s time for our cause to set aside polarizing political preferences and look the same.

Kimberly Ross is a senior contributor at RedState and a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


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