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Marching for life

Jeff White says Right to Life and Civil Rights go hand in hand

by Melanie Jongsma

Right to Life
Jeff White, on the bus to DC (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
LANSING, Ill. (January 18, 2018) – To Jeff White, being “pro-life” is not just about preventing abortion. It’s about being for life, a good life, for everyone—even for people who aren’t yet born.

White is vice president of the Illiana Right to Life Committee, which is associated with the National Right to Life movement.

On the bus ride from Lansing, Illinois, to Washington, DC, each year, White talks to his 70-plus passengers about civil rights, and he draws comparisons between the march that they’ll participate in and the 1963 march that culminated with Martin Luther King Jr’s historic “I have a dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. During last year’s bus ride, he showed the film The Blind Side.

He remembers, “I had people ask me, ‘What does The Blind Side have to do with the Right to Life movement?’ Well, it’s the story of a young man that everyone gave up on—but one family believed in him. That’s the heart of being pro-life. And when you think about it, Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, all these movements are pro-life. We’re all about making sure people have a chance for a good life.”

Right to Life
Patti Koopmans, from South Holland, has been involved in the March for Life for 18 years. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Right to Life
Jean VanDerGriend, of Lansing’s VanDerGriend Farm Stand, is a regular participant in the March for Life. (Photo: MelaniebJongsma)
This year’s bus trip left Thursday evening from Bethel Christian Reformed Church. Riders included Lansing residents as well as pro-lifers from South Holland, Munster, and other towns throughout the Illiana region.

They will drive through the night, arriving at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Arlington, Virginia, early Friday morning. The March for Life—which typically involves up to 250,000 people—begins with a rally at the Washington Monument at 12:00pm and usually finishes by 3:00pm.

White says the Marchers for Life are intentional about not being an inconvenience for residents and visitors in Washington DC. They schedule the March in the afternoon to minimize traffic problems, and they enlist hundreds of volunteers at the back of the throng to pick up litter. They don’t want their presence to have a negative impact on their message.

“Anytime there’s been a successful movement, it needs to gain respectability,” says White.

White’s group will spend Saturday sightseeing, and they will re-board the buses at 6:30pm Saturday, driving through the night again to return to Lansing Sunday morning.

Right to Life
Nearly 50 students filled one of the buses headed to Washington, DC. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


  1. So proud of you Jeff White, good luck and a safe journey to all that participate. I will be praying for all.

  2. We had room on the adults bus, we need more people! Consider taking the time to go, you will have a great experience, then get addicted to it like I. It thrills your soul to see the masses of people there who support life!

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