New March for Life president plans increased youth appeal

Jeanne Monahan director of the Center for Human Dignity at FRC CNA US Catholic News 1 18 12 Jeanne Monahan, the new president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. | Family Research Council.

After being named the president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, Jeanne F. Monahan says she plans to increase the annual pro-life march's appeal to young people.

Monahan said in a Nov. 20 interview with CNA that her "immediate goal is to do the best job possible to commemorate this somber 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which is rapidly hitting us here in January; to do what we can to make the rally very youth accessible and interesting and to make the March as fruitful as possible."

The fund organizes and runs the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., which will be held Jan. 25, 2013 on the National Mall.

Monahan, who was unanimously approved by the fund's board on Nov. 16, said her ultimate goal is to work herself "out of a job."

She sees her position as more than just running "the largest pro-life event in the world, but to be making a difference in terms of impacting a culture of life every single day, not only around the anniversary of Roe."

"My long term goal … is to utilize the education piece of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund."

Monahan joined the March for Life board in June "with every intention of staying" at her job with the Family Research Council, but when the organization's founder Nellie Gray died in August, Monahan was made the interim president.

Monahan previously served as director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, and before that worked in various capacities at the Department of Health and Human Services. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Catholic University of America.

"Jeanne is a strong pro-life advocate who will continue the strong leadership of Nellie Gray and bring us closer to a culture of life," said Patrick E. Kelly, Chairman of the Board of Directors. "The Board and I are very much looking forward to working with Jeanne in this new, full-time capacity and are looking forward to our largest March in history this January."

She said that January's event will utilize jumbotrons and will be succinct, lasting roughly an hour. A handful of legislators will speak, and they will be "leaders on both sides of the political aisle who are pro-life."

Monahan also intends to have a celebrity speaker, as well as music that will be "interesting and engaging" for young people.

"One major goal I have … is to get all of the participants to do some kind of act of lobbying on the Hill while they're here; not only to peacefully protest, but to make an appointment with their legislators and to go and talk to them about the necessity of pro-life legislation, and to do so in a positive and compelling way."

The new president also wants to focus specifically on helping young people lobby their legislators.
"We'll do everything we can to engage media in a positive way and to raise as much awareness about the fact that abortion is the human rights issue of today," she said.

Monahan noted the Fund is launching a more "savvy" social media campaign by updating their Facebook page, better utilizing Twitter and reaching out to youth with new media.

Monahan sees a great deal of hope for the pro-life movement going forward, because "young people are overwhelmingly pro-life … they have their finger on the pulse that this truly does destroy a human life."

Asked about the future of the pro-life movement, she said that "one thing I think is critical moving forward is that we show abortion is bad for women … that we use truth and technology and science, all to our advantage. All we need to do with the abortion issue is bring it into the light."

She cited advances in ultrasound technology and understanding of fetal pain as factors which have enlightened young people about the truth behind abortion.

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Monahan emphasized that she plans to "do everything I can to show the fallacy" of the slogans that abortion is a "so-called right for women and good for women's health."

"Abortion is not good for women, and obviously not good for the babies who aren't allowed a right to life."

As she looks ahead to January, Monahan gets "the sense that the way providence has played out, that this is going to be a very important year for the March for Life, for people peacefully protesting."

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