Krista Gesaman of Newsweek.com's Gaggle blog could have saved herself from the indignity of making the absurd claim that young women were "missing" from protests marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade by merely searching through the past coverage of the March for Life by the Washington Post, Newsweek's sister publication. In past years, the Post has highlighted the "youthful throng," the "large turnout of young people," and has quoted from teenagers participating at the annual pro-life March.
My colleague Ken Shepherd noted Gesaman's beyond faulty conclusion on Friday, and highlighted a recent Marist poll that indicated that "58 percent of persons aged 18-29 view abortion as 'morally wrong.'" Members of this age were all born after the 1973 Roe decision by the Supreme Court, so it's not that surprising of a statistic. He also underlined how "hundreds if not thousands of busloads teeming with teenagers and college students, many of them young women, descend on the nation's capital for the annual March for Life."
The Washington Post's coverage in recent years has supported Shepherd's assertion. Post staff writer Michelle Boorstein covered the March in 2006 (she also co-wrote articles on the pro-life demonstration in 2007 and 2009), and highlighted the youthful component to the March in an article titled "Protesters See Mood Shift Against 'Roe.'" She mentioned the "large turnout of young people, who filled the march route along Constitution Avenue and lined the walls outside the Supreme Court in cheerleader jackets, black leather outfits with studs and T-shirts that read, 'Abortion is Mean' and 'Sex is good, the pill is not.'" Later in the article, Boorstein also described later how "[t]he mood [at the March] was closer to a party than a political protest, and the soundtrack of the day was the laughter of young people." Near the end of her article, the writer noted that a small group of pro-abortion counter-demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court were "drowned out by dozens of young abortion opponents shouting, 'Boo!' On the other side of the wide sidewalk in front of the court building, rows of teenagers stood in a silent protest, a single strip of red tape across their mouths with the word 'life' written in black."
Boorstein's 2006 article also touched on one topic that Gesaman noted in her article: how the younger generations express their views on abortion on the Internet, and specifically mentioned the involvement of young women:
Charmaine Yoest, a vice president at the Family Research Council, told a morning gathering of 40 antiabortion bloggers that the demise of Roe would mean a battle within each state over whether abortion should be legal -- a more localized, grass-roots fight....The bloggers, a mix of middle-aged men in suits and young women who are college or graduate school students, said they are part of an increased sophistication in the movement that speaks to young people today.
Two years later, the Post even more explicitly highlighted the young adult contingent at the annual March. Staff writer Sue Anne Pressley Montes titled her January 23, 2008 article, "A Youthful Throng Marches Against Abortion," and highlighted the attendance of three pro-life teenagers. Exactly a year later, Boorstein, with Jenna Johnson and William Wan, reported that "[a] morning youth concert and Mass yesterday at Verizon Center...filled up -- there were 20,000-plus seats -- and crowds were sent to nearby churches." The three later reported that the "mood on the Mall yesterday was upbeat, with throngs of teenagers chatting, chasing one another and laughing."
Wan was the sole author of the Post's Saturday article on the 2010 March for Life, which was on the front page of the Metro section. It's interesting to note that just as his colleague at Newsweek tried to write off the attendance of young women at demonstrations marking the anniversary of Roe, the Washington Post writer himself only mentioned the youth presence at the March in passing, devoting two sentences to the topic:
The events began early Friday morning with a youth rally at the Verizon Center. The rally, organized by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, featured religious bands, a Mass conducted by bishops from across the country, including Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, and a 'confess-a-thon,' in which more than 100 priests heard confessions at stations set up in the arena.
As a veteran of the March for Life (attended 1998-1999, and then 2001-2010), I can personally attest that Gesaman doesn't know what she's talking about, at least when it comes to the annual pro-life demonstration. I attended my first March as a senior in high school, and one consistent aspect to the annual event is the significant participation of teenagers, college students, and young professionals, who often join the contingents of their alma maters.
My colleague Ken Shepherd mentioned in his post on Friday about the Newsweek.com article how he wanted to update his post "his post with pictures of attendees at the March for Life, particularly pictures featuring the young women Gesaman thinks are NOT there." I will do this below with some of the pictures I took on Friday at the March (I had heard about Gesaman's article at the March via Twitter on my cell phone).