The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Not Stopping at Roe v. Wade

Fascist groups once again rally with “pro-lifers” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Zach D. Roberts.

For the past five decades, anti-abortion activists have converged on Washington, D.C. annually in January for the annual “March for Life.” The overturning of Roe v. Wade hasn’t changed that – if anything it’s made them more aggressive in their push to end reproductive rights in America. 

Even with the snowfall and freezing temperatures in the nation’s capital, thousands of people from churches and schools around the country rallied Friday on the National Mall concluding with a march to the Supreme Court. 

Before all that, there was an event at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, a “National Memorial for the Pre-Born and Their Mothers and Fathers,” where activists were given awards by Priests for Life, among other anti-abortion groups. 

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The attendees were a who’s who of some of the most extreme anti-abortion activists in America. Frank Pavone, formerly a Catholic Priest who was defrocked by the Vatican. Pavone once used an aborted fetus as a prop during a Facebook stream, saying “we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says yes, let the child-killing continue (and you pay for it); Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no, the child should be protected.” Even though he is no longer a priest, and has multiple accusations of sexual harassment, he is still the National Director of Priests for Life. 

The first awardee was a right-wing Pastor from East Texas – Jan. 6th attendee Mark Lee Dickson. Dickson often says the quiet part of the anti-abortion movement out loud. He desperately wants a nationwide abortion ban and has already convinced dozens of towns to become a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” using a 150-year-old law. He regularly refers to himself as a “38-year old virgin.”

Then there was Bucks County’s own chastity educator Mark Houck. You might have heard of him as he was accused of assaulting a 72-year old-clinic volunteer outside of a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia. He was charged at the federal level because of the FACE Act, which protects entrances of clinics. In his acceptance speech he got laughs from the audience for saying of the alleged assault, “in the streets of Philadelphia not really a big deal.” The 72-year-old man required a hospital visit.

Oddly, in his speech for the award he said “Don’t be afraid of persecution, it truly is a gift.” He’s currently suing the federal government for “malicious prosecution” after being found not guilty. He’s raised over $400,000 through a GiveSendGo campaign. 

Houck also called for a prayer for January 6th rioters that are currently incarcerated, calling them “hostages.” In an interview during the March for Life this week with Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal, he said that was marching to “commemorate the holocaust of abortion.” 

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His website, The King’s Men rails on about the dangers of pornography saying “the harms and social costs of pornography are far too wide to really quantify or measure, however through the work of The King’s Men, we have learned much about the industry and its effects on men, women and children.” 

The (More) Fascist Wing of the Anti-Abortion Movement

While pushing forced birth on Americans as many at the March for Life are calling for would be considered extreme by many – there was an even more extreme group at the “pro-life” event again this year: the Patriot Front.

Patriot Front is an explicitly white nationalist and fascist group that spun off from Vanguard America after the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville. The leader of the group, Thomas Rousseau, marched alongside James Alex Fields, Jr., the man who murdered Heather Heyer and injured many others with his car that day. 

In 2022 Patriot Front began appearing at multiple March for Life events, occasionally to the disdain of the marchers. That year I documented them being thanked for their attendance by M4L marchers. 2024’s March for Life was no different. While they did not march alongside the anti-abortion activists as in previous years they were welcomed and held long conversations with attendees. 

Patriot Front wasn’t the only Christian nationalist organization at the 2024 March for Life. The New Columbia Movement, there for at least the second year, is a Christian Nationalist group with a chapter in Pennsylvania. Unlike Patriot Front, they do accept non-white members but have many of the same beliefs about women’s rights and the future of this country. 

This week seems to be the first meeting of the two groups, and Bucks County Beacon witnessed them sharing contact info and networking.

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Groups like Patriot Front and New Columbia Movement strive on using large events like this to distribute information and gain non-critical attention from friendly media and did several interviews with “Pro-Life” media influencers.  

The ongoing attack on reproductive rights has always had a clear alliance with the extreme far-right. Domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games was a violent anti-abortion activist who also bombed abortion clinics. The far-right conspiracy of ‘The Great Replacement Theory’ that racist mass murderers like Dylann Roof believed in has its start in the anti-abortion movement.

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Zach D. Roberts

Zach D. Roberts is a freelance photojournalist who has covered protest and activism around the country. He covered the 2017 Unite the Right rally and is a Puffin Artist Grant Recipient. His film on voter suppression in Georgia, Vigilante: Vote Suppression Hitman will be released nationally on Nov. 2.

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