Next week, the yearly March for Life will take place at our nation’s capital. Hundreds of thousands of tremendously dedicated people will march, probably in horribly frigid weather, and some from very far away. The media will politely avert their gaze, as will most of the cosmopolitan denizens of the city. They will feel vaguely sorry for the yokels and wingnuts who trudge through the snow with their silly homemade signs, their hearts full of the vain hope that they can somehow turn back time by praying hard enough. There will also be those who are angry at the sight of the marchers, and see in them a desire for the return of back alley butchers and the shaming of girls who got in a spot of trouble.

I used to be one of those who felt sorry for the idiots who spent their money putting up signs along the Florida Turnpike saying things like: “Abortion stops a beating heart,” accompanied by an unpleasant depiction of an embryo. And then one day I was pushed off my horse and I became one of them. I think it happens like that for many people: years of puzzled distaste and then bingo! You’re out there too with your silly sign on the side of the road, cringing at rude finger gestures. There is a moment when passion becomes ignited, and you find yourself able to withstand indifference, hopelessness and hostility, even welcoming them.