NRL News

Media tribute flawed but captures part of Nellie Gray’s Indomitable spirit

by | Aug 17, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Nellie Gray

Earlier this week I passed along the sad news that Nellie Gray, founder and sustainer of the March for Life, had died. Miss Gray, 88, was blessed with such an indomitable spirit it seemed as if she would lead this annual massive gathering forever.

Many pro-lifers have written warm tributes to Nellie. But I would like to take just three minutes of your time to talk about one story about her life that appeared in the Washington Post, written by Emily Langer.

First, the bad news. If you’ve ever attended a March (and I’ve been at 31 of them), you know that the line of people heading up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Supreme Court goes on and on and on. At some point, the media powers that be decided that massive crowds that easily were over 100,000 constituted (as Langer put it all too typically) “tens of thousand of activists.”

Likewise, Langer ends her first sentence, telling us these activists came to Washington “to speak out on one of the most polarizing of American social issues.” True, abortion does draw lines. But I would bet you a pretty penny that anytime pro-abortionists have had their own occasional rally (there is one coming up that nobody has noticed), no report ever mentioned “polarizing social issues.”

And, although it might seem like quibble, it’s actually not. “The March for Life — held each January on the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion — is reported to have drawn as many as 70,000 activists in any given year since its inception in 1974,” Langer writes. ”The figures do not include the counterprotesters who often converge on Washington at the same time.”

So, we’re told that an already vastly under-estimated number doesn’t include pro-abortionists who have shown up around the Supreme Court in recent years. I never counted heads, but it would very close to accurate to say that there have been as few as ten “counterprotesters” and never more than 20 or 30. Put another way, there were probably (at a minimum) three or four thousand pro-lifers for every pro-abortionist. Geez.

But Ms. Langer’s account did capture some important points about Nellie. It captured her horror at abortion. She once told the Post, “I don’t understand slavery. I don’t understand the Holocaust. I don’t understand abortion.”

To her credit Langer respectfully points out that Nellie had a successful career in government before turning her life over full-time to the March, a decision “that cut her retirement benefits in half.”

And not enough people know that it was Nellie Gray, Esq. She “attended Georgetown University at night and received a law degree in 1959.”

A remarkable woman who made enormous sacrifices for the cause of the unborn.  We will all miss Nellie. If you missed our tribute the first time around, please go to

Categories: Pro-Lifers