Our Youth

Let Them Speak: A Reflection on the March for Life

By Leila Shanley

“I had realized that I can be pro-women and against abortion,” said Shanley after participating in both the Women’s March and the March for Life in Washington. (Photo: Melissa Enaje)

The March for Life means more than just people gathering against abortion. It means protecting all life from conception until natural death. Marching for all forms of life means standing up for every religion, race or gender. Pope Francis once said, “So great is the value of a human life and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb…” This means that from the second a child is conceived, the child has a right and that should not be a choice.

I was taught from a young age to stand up for what I believed in. My grandmother led me by great example. She worked as an ESL teacher but spent her time protesting against oil drilling and big corporations and standing up for immigrant rights. My grandmother traveled throughout the East Coast for her protests. She inspires me everyday.

On top of working as a teacher, she helped my grandfather become a citizen. My grandfather also helped make me who I am by giving me the gift of expression through my voice and music. He was from El Salvador and had to flee from the civil war. She had adopted my father and his birth brother from Ecuador to keep them together. She had taken them to protests and taught them to fight for their rights. She gave me lectures about Wall Street and the protests she did there. Over the summer, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.

My mother and father have always set positive examples as well. They taught me that I don’t have to sit idly and look pretty but that I’m able to go out and change things that I don’t agree with. They showed me that just because I’m a girl does not mean that I can’t do as much as a boy and even more. They were the ones who helped me know the difference between right and wrong.

Recently, I was at the Women’s March in New York City. This was unlike anything I’ve been to with my grandmother. There were approximately 400-thousand people marching in New York. It was estimated to be 100-thousand people so the police had put up gates. There was a point where people were all over the place. Eventually, I helped a women remove those gates. It was a very peaceful environment. There were a lot of people, but I felt very confident and comfortable.

I have been looking into more camp-outs against kill-animal shelters and for marches for science. In Washington D.C., there were a lot of people from all over the country, mainly young women and men. It felt like a very Catholic environment. People of different races and churches were all there.

Key Takeaway

I was very proud to go to the March for Life because at the Women’s March many people were pro-choice but I had realized that I can be pro-women and against abortion. A few months ago, I knew I was against abortion but I was conflicted because I thought that being pro-women means being pro-choice. Now after my experience I realize I can be both.

To be pro-life means to be for all forms of life, whether a sickly child to a weak grandmother or somewhere in between!

Leila Shanley is a freshman at St. Francis Prep H.S., Fresh Meadows.


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