Tag archives: Nellie Gray

Nellie Gray: She Would Not Give In

by Robert Morrison

August 13, 2013

Miss Nellie Gray passed away one year ago today. Yet her memory remains vivid in the minds of all who knew her. She began the March for Life following the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling of January 22, 1973.

The March for Life is an amazing phenomenon, almost without precedent in American history. What other public demonstration has been cited in Supreme Court opinions as evidence of the Court’s own errors? Justice Antonin Scalia pointed to the annual return of tens of thousands of pro-lifers toWashington’s streets to tell his colleagues they are wrong.

It is one of life’s ironies that Nellie was a Gray. For in Nellie’s world, there were no grays. Nellie dealt with questions of right and wrong on a daily basis. Killing the most innocent, the most vulnerable among us was wrong, is wrong, and will always be wrong.

I had many occasions to talk with Nellie Gray. On some of those occasions, I must admit, Nellie and I were on opposite sides. I supported the Hatch Amendment of 1983.

That proposed constitutional amendment would have set aside the lethal logic of Roe v. Wade, freeing the Congress and the state legislatures to enact protective legislation. I thought it was the right thing to do. As a Lutheran Christian, I was persuaded to work for this amendment by the Catholic Bishops.

There is heavy irony here. Nellie Gray, a devout Catholic, was militantly opposed to the Hatch Amendment. It did not go far enough, she argued passionately. It did not restore fully the right to life of unborn children. It would have permitted liberal states to continue the slaughter of innocents. Nellie Gray was never about compromise.

I tried to reason with her. I even quoted Lincoln. Lincoln faced the bitter opposition of some staunch abolitionists to the reconstruction constitution of Louisiana. The abolitionists said it did not go far enough in extending full civil rights to the freedmen. Lincoln was a statesman who had to deal with unyielding realities on a daily basis.

Lincoln responded to his hardline critics, using a homely farm metaphor. He likened the Louisiana constitution to an egg: “We shall sooner have the chicken if we do not smash the egg. Let it hatch.

Lincoln endorsed the Louisiana draft constitution in his last public statement. Hearing Lincoln speak from the White House second floor window, John Wilkes Booth said that Louisiana constitution went too far and he resolved to murder the Emancipator.

Let it hatch.” What a phrase. But now, so many years later, I realize with painful recognition that Nellie was right to oppose the Hatch Amendment. We would get only one chance to amend the Constitution—if that was our chosen path—and we could not amend it while sacrificing the core principle: We are all created equal and any measure we approve cannot constitutionally concede the alienation of that inalienable right to life.

By not taking a position on that core question, the Hatch Amendment failed to engage the hearts and minds of tens of millions of pro-life Americans. We are opposed to Roe because it usurps the powers of Congress and the states to protect innocent human life. But if, as has happened inBritain andFrance, the legislatures voted to permit the killing of innocent human beings, it would be no less wrong.

If slavery is not wrong, Lincoln said, then nothing is wrong. We can echo that: If abortion is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.

It is no wonder that our government is going broke. Thomas Jefferson pledged “a wise and frugal government” whose purposes were limited but clear. “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government,” he wrote.

When our government gives billions of our tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, and that evil enterprise kills millions of unborn children, can we be surprised that our government faces bankruptcy? Human capital economists teach us that those victims of homicide might each have earned a million dollars in a lifetime. Let’s tell the Republicans: Save the Unborn Millionaires!

Remembering Nellie, I cannot help thinking of that famous scene in A Man for All Seasons. The rich and powerful Duke of Norfolk is trying to get Sir Thomas More to go along with King Henry VIII’s divorce. Sir Thomas won’t give in.

And will you forfeit all you have, which includes the respect of your country, for a belief? … And who are you? A lawyer and a lawyer’s son. We [the nobles of England] are supposed to be the proud ones, the arrogant ones. We’ve all given in. Why must you stand out? … It’s disproportionate.”

Sir Thomas More went to the scaffold for his beliefs. And today, he is revered as a saint by the Catholic Church and respected by millions for standing out, for not giving in.

Nellie stood out. She did not give in, either. For that, we all owe her respect.

No Shades of Gray

by Jared Bridges

August 17, 2012

FRC’s Cathy Ruse gives her tribute to March for Life founder Nellie Gray in NRO’s symposium:

Nellie Gray did more than focus the nation on the pro-life cause once a year. She helped pro-lifers see each other, and in so doing has kept the movement young and strong.

I remember the first time I marched as a mom. Little Lucy, snug and warm in a sling on my hip, engaged in one of her favorite pastimes: studying the faces of the people around her. She saw many happy ones that cold day.

What Lucy understood instinctively has been lost to many in our post-modern world: that we are made to live in relation to each other, not in isolation.

Read the whole thing here.

Nellie Gray: Marching for Life

by Robert Morrison

August 17, 2012

It should not surprise us that most of the media got the story wrong. The Associated Press reported the death of Miss Nellie Gray. Here’s how they covered her passing: “Nellie Gray, the founder and chief organizer of an annual anti-abortion march in Washington and a leader in efforts to overturn the…” The New York Times referred to Nellie as “Abortion Foe.” Huffington Post called her the “founder of anti-abortion march.” Even the Washington Examiner, which ought to know better, echoed that “anti-abortion march” moniker.

The Washington Post, which normally consigns the tens of thousands of March for Life participants to the Metro section, at least credited Nellie with being founder of just that, The March for Life. Why should any of this matter?

Okay, let’s imagine you’re viewing an ultrasound image. You see that miracle of life stirring within. Out of the darkness a voice says: Let’s terminate it. But you agree with TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein. “You can’t deny that that thing in the womb is a human being.” So you cry out: No, don’t kill her. Or him.

Ah, now you’re an Anti. With the exception of the Post (which realizes it still has to sell newspapers to some of us), most of the mainstream media routinely reported an untruth. Nellie Gray never led a single anti-abortion march. Not one in forty years. Her March for Life was as exuberant and lively a PRO-LIFE event as you could ask for. It has become increasingly a young people’s march in recent years.

Ronald Reagan was acutely aware of public persuasion. He was the first national politician to say, “I’m pro-life.” He knew that being always identified with the “anti” position was a disadvantage. I will always remember January 1985. It was the time of President Reagan’s Second Inaugural. Since the 20th fell on a Sunday that year, the public ceremony was slated for the following Monday. But a severe Arctic blast came down from Canada. Temperatures plummeted dangerously. For the first time in history, the Presidential Inauguration was taken indoors. And the Inaugural parade was canceled. It was just too dangerous to let all those units of Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard march down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Nellie Gray’s March for Life was scheduled for January 22nd. Would she, too, cancel? Not on your life! The March for Life went ahead as it has gone on, rain or shine, snow or hail. There is literally nothing like this event in all of American history. There has never been such a popular outpouring of principle and purpose. I have pleaded to our friends to clean up after the March for Life. I’m continually embarrassed by all the trash we leave behind. I point out that at Dr. King’s famous March on Washington in 1963, there was not so much as a gum wrapper, Coke can, or cigarette butt left behind.

To be fair, the City of Washington doesn’t really welcome the March for Life by putting out nearly enough trash receptacles. You can always rely, however, on the cops being friendly. Even their horses are friendly.

Having said that, as long as God gives me strength, I’ll be there at the March for Life. I started marching as a young man. I’m now a grandfather.

There’s a famous quote from London that applies here. When Sir Christopher Wren re-built the wooden city that had burned, this famed architect rebuilt it in stone, better and more beautiful. His epitaph reads:

If you seek his monument, look around you.

The same is true of Nellie Gray. Come to Washington, D.C. next January 25th. Unless a miracle intervenes, that’s when we’ll observe the fortieth anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling. If you come to the March for Life, you will see the tens of thousands of young people, celebrating life, so hopeful for change. If you then seek Nellie Gray’s monument, look around you.

Remembering Nellie Gray, Americas Pro-Life Sweetheart

by Family Research Council

August 14, 2012

Nellie Gray, the founder of March for Life, passed away this past weekend. Through tireless dedication to the pro-life movement, Ms. Gray united pro-life people from all walks of life through the march she founded in 1974, which marked the one year anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She started the march so pro-life people across America could come together and mourn the lost lives of Americas most defenseless and innocent populationthe preborn.

Ms. Grays heartfelt motivation to protect Americas preborn children stemmed from her military service in World War II. During the war, Ms. Gray served as a corporal in the Womens Army Corps (WAC), and was deeply distraught that many innocent lives were lost in the Holocaust. Once the war ended, Ms. Gray became more aware of the perils of abortion and was propelled to combat Americas very own holocaust—the unjust, merciless killing of innocent preborn boys and girls.

Pro-life unity formed the core of Ms. Grays motivation for protecting the preborn. To accomplish such a goal, Ms. Gray encouraged African-Americans and women from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to participate in the March for Life. Dr. Alveda King, the director for Priests for Lifes African-American Outreach, said that Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice. Also, Janet Morana, the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, thanked Ms. Gray for recogniz[ing] that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice.

Because of Ms. Grays work, March for Life has truly changed lives by motivating Americans to take a stand for the protection of Americas most defenseless population. Father Frank Pavone, the National Director for Priests for Life, noted that Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life simply because both solidified his decision to seek priesthood. Moreover, March for Life, which has a high youth turnout rate, has propelled my generation to continue defending the preborns God-given right to life.

As the 39th annual March for Life approaches, we must never forget to champion and honor Nellie Grays humanitarian impact on the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. To further her legacy, we must continue to unite more Americans on the sanctity of life.

In the wake of Nellie’s passing, the March for Life Board of Directors have named Patrick Kelly as Interim Chair of the Board and Jeanne Monahan as Interim President of the Board. The Board of Directors will continue to honor Nellie’s memory by doing everything possible to protect the unborn—no exceptions, no compromise!