This year the March for Life is going virtual, with only a small number of pro-life leaders attending a physical march in Washington D.C. One of the speakers this year is husband, father, passionate pro-life activist and retired NFL player Benjamin Watson, who will be speaking with his wife Kirsten.
Watson and Chelsey Youman, who serves in the policy arm of the pro-life group Human Coalition, recently sat down with The Daily Citizen where they shared about the future of the pro-life movement, the importance of the March for Life and how pro-life Americans can get involved in promoting the pro-life cause.
“The March for Life is important every year,” Watson shared when asked why the march is more important than ever. “We talk a lot about this issue, and I think every day is important because lives are at stake. I don’t think the lives this year are any less important than the lives last year or the year before. We do have an opportunity this year, in a time where it’s going to look different than it has in the past. We still have the time to come together in spirit to advocate for life. And I think that 60 million lives since Roe v. Wade, that urgency doesn’t change. Whether it was 5 years ago or today.”
“I would add that we are in a really unique time from a policy standpoint,” Youman said. “When you’re looking at the world today, I really think that decades of pro-life work have helped to win over hearts and minds. The American public is more pro-life than they have ever been. The younger generation finally gets it, and they are pro-life. The church is involved. Groups like the Human Coalition are involved in serving women and saving lives.
“That all culminates in the political realm with really pro-life state legislatures. And when you’ve got Republican states and a Democrat White House and Congress, those are really at odds with each other. And we’ve seen a harder push for pro-life policies at the state level, working their way through the courts with Trump appointed, hopefully pro-life, judges. We’re at a really important time, I think, for our pro-life issue to save lives when you take a step back and look at the political landscape.”
Watson and his wife Kirsten are also addressing the March together. The parents of seven children, the couple are both passionate about life and about sharing their own journey through two miscarriages.
“We just have a great opportunity to, again, emphasize the fact that every life is made in the image of God, and whether that life is a preborn child in the womb, a teenager, an adult or someone on their death bed, they all have value,” Watson said. “Reinforcing those messages, but also coming at it from a stance of loving the entire person on the trajectory of life.
“One of the things that we are looking forward to in talking in our speech is sharing how organizations like Human Coalition are really interested in not just being simply pro-birth but being truly and holistically pro-life. And that if we’re going tell pregnant women, who have said if their circumstances were different that they would parent, that we love you to carry to term and give birth to your child. We also want to walk beside you and provide things like education or health care or job training, employment, those sorts of things. We can’t be a pro-life community who simply points the finger at others and says what you need to do, we need to people to be compassionate and are willing to stand in the gap.”
In thinking about how to support families, Watson thinks of his own parents who have taken on the responsibility of watching a baby from a woman at the church, who chose life despite her husband’s wishes.
“We grew up in a household that was definitely pro-life in the sense in that we believed in the sanctity of human life. What I saw demonstrated by my parents, is people who stepped into other people’s experiences and found out where they could help them,” Watson explained.
“I called home a little while ago and talked to my mom, and I heard a baby’s cry in the background. There’s six of us kids, but the youngest is like 25 now. What had happened is that there was a woman who came to the church who considering an abortion, and they talked to her and she decided not to do it. Her husband is not very helpful at all. So, my mom, at 65 or so years old, is babysitting a newborn baby for the lady a couple of days a week so that she can go to work.
“It hit me that, wow, this is uncomfortable,” Watson said. “That’s not for everybody, everybody has a different role. I want to challenge people, whenever I speak, that you have a role to serve and love women in different capacities, whatever that may be. When my mom decided to do it, and my dad as well, we’ll keep the child while you go work because we want you to carry the baby to term.
“That’s the message, getting back to our role in speaking, is challenging us all to find where God has given us the gifts or the desires and ability to serve in this specific issue, because we have to do more than talk about it but be about it.”
For pro-life Americans, the next few years will be especially critical as the Democrats take control at the federal level.
“I do think the next few years are going to be really, really important for people to look at what they can do at the state level,” Youman said. “I know that we were in a season where everyone was looking at the federal level but right now the state of Texas and Mississippi both defunded Planned Parenthood entirely from their Medicaid program.
“Calling your attorney general’s office, making sure your vote counts on the life issue and know that you can push to defund Planned Parenthood entirely from your state. And know that there are plenty of clinics and health care providers out there. A three to one ratio. Every Planned Parenthood you take away, there are three more clinics that can take their place and provide real services to women that don’t include killing their children, promoting pro-life legislation at your state level. And at the federal level, knowing that your vote as a Christian, it really does matter on the life issue. It shouldn’t be just one issue you’re voting on—it has to be the issue because genuinely lives are at stake when you think about this.”
“Educating yourself, being aware of what you can do and then engaging at the state and local level.”
Watson added, “I just realized, in the last year, that we put so much attention on Roe v. Wade and rightly so, but if that would change tomorrow, not much across the nation would change. It goes back to the states, where it should have been decided in the first place. Educating people about that fact and your state legislature, your local officials, that’s where the battles take place. The state level is very important.”
The virtual March for Life takes place this Friday, January 29 at 11:00 am EST. Sign up to hear from the various speakers, including the Watsons, and pray for mothers, babies and families across the country.
Stay tuned for more of The Daily Citizen’s interview with Benjamin Watson and Chelsey Youman, which will be posting later this week.
Photo from Brace Hemmelgarn/REUTERS