As an EMT in rural Oregon in the 1980s, I learned the simple, brutal truth: Some patients will die.
But I also learned another truth – a truth that thousands of others participating in the March for Life this week understand: Every life is worth fighting for.
Volunteering with our little rural fire department meant making do with what few folks would volunteer. We wore hand-me-down gear that had been through generations of use before we got it. And, my favorite, our number two engine was a surplus army truck, delivered to the U.S. Army in October 1952—the month I was born. Our district was big; response times were long; help was always pretty far away.
So we made do, and did what we had to do when we rolled into some traumatic reality. On two occasions, that meant enlisting moms to do CPR on their own children. We’d simply run out of hands, and someone had to keep the compressions going while we fought to push life back into the lifeless child’s body.
Of those two times, one child died and the other lived. The memories are still fresh. It feels like just a moment ago that we slammed shut the ambulance door in defeat, and the rig sped vainly away. And it feels like just a moment ago that I last saw Jason sitting a few feet from me in the small-town church – a life preserved beyond all odds.
One memory is laden with grief – the weight of the death is still there. But the other memory is radiant with rampant joy – the privilege of making that life-giving difference floods you with indescribable delight. You have to live it to understand it.
On January 18, in the streets of Washington, D.C. and across the nation, tens of thousands of Americans—many moms and moms-to-be—will be marching for Life to proclaim that human life is sacred and to be cherished from the moment of conception. And many will march with memories no less poignant than mine: the deep regrets of natal life lost and the sublime joy of life created and nurtured. But all march with much the same determination we brought to an emergency scene: Human life is precious, and we are to fight for life, protect the vulnerable, and rejoice in each life saved.
We cannot create a society where accidents don’t happen and disease doesn’t strike. But we can create a society where every new human life is valued and nurtured through birth and beyond. And that is a hope worth marching for.
Tune in to the ADF Facebook page for live updates from the March for Life on January 18.