Their rally signs were pink. That was the first indication of their bold tactics.
Typically, pink is the color reserved for Planned Parenthood. Then there is the ubiquitous pink of Komen, the breast-cancer advocacy group that seems to operate in the shadow of Planned Parenthood and the shrill politics of the sexual-empowerment agenda.
A group of women, about 10 of them, stood on the Washington Mall on a frigid, snowy day, with the Capitol in the background. They were waiting backstage, just before the March for Life opening rally was set to begin. It was 41 years to the day that the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion the law of the land. Just when I thought I might be losing all sense of feeling in my extremities due to the cold, I saw them. The blood was flowing. Life was present. They brought warmth to the snow-covered mall.
"I'm not a hard case, I'm a life," a woman named Monica told me.
Earlier that day, at morning mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the other side of town, a homily prepared by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was read, the weather woes of the East Coast having kept him from the nation's capital.
"It's time to look back and look ahead," Archbishop Chaput's words advised. "The abortion struggle of the past four decades teaches a very useful lesson. Evil talks a lot about 'tolerance' when it's weak. When evil is strong, real tolerance gets pushed out the door. And the reason is simple. Evil cannot bear the counter witness of truth. It will not coexist peacefully with goodness, because evil insists on being seen as right, and worshiped as being right. Therefore, the good must be made to seem hateful and wrong."
This points to the powerful presence of the protesters in Washington, showing up to stand for the inviolability of human life. It's hard to look away when a living human being is standing in front of you, wanting to say something. "Coexist" one sign read, accompanying this simple message with a striking sketch of a mother and child.
"Women deserve better," another sign read, a mantra of the group Feminists for Life, and an inarguable statement no matter where you stand.
These women stood together near the starting point of the march to let it be known that every unborn child is a precious human life, regardless of the circumstances of its conception. They are women nurturing our politics, challenging our expectations, calling us to attend to the humanity of every person, encouraging us to protect all innocent life and helping women and men to rise to the challenge of parenthood, be it through birth -- planned or unplanned -- or adoption.
"I'll always be a victim," Rebekah tells me. "I wasn't going to create another one." She became pregnant with her now 10-year-old son as a result of rape. She embodies courage.
In his remarks to the rally a few minutes later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told the crowd, spreading out from the stage in the far distance, that Washington stands on the shoulders of those gathered, many of them young people -- high school and college students -- who insist on being a pro-life generation that abolishes abortion. That's not a cruel threat to women's rights but a promise, a vow to work to make sure that love overflows and that no woman or man feels alone or abandoned or without the support necessary to embrace life. With the witness and labor of these gathered protesters, we are all made more humane.