At annual March for Life, crowds show endurance, passion to continue

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Participants at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 25 demonstrated just how determined they are not only by showing up in such large numbers on a bitter cold day but by continuing a 40-year tradition of protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion.
“Forty years ago, people thought opposition to the pro-life movement would eventually disappear,” Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley told the crowd assembled on the National Mall for a rally prior to the march along Constitution Avenue to the front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
He noted that Nellie Gray, founder of the annual march who died last year, “was not going to allow that to happen” nor was the pro-life movement.
“The march grows stronger every year,” said the cardinal, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Various media outlets put the estimate for this year’s March for Life crowd at between 500,000 and 650,000. An official crowd estimate has not been provided by police since about 1995. A Catholic News Service query for a crowd estimate submitted early Jan. 28 via voicemail and email had not yet been returned by midday.
Many speakers praised the resiliency of the crowd, braving a cloudy 20-degree day and standing on snow-dusted ground, but they also spoke of the pro-life movement getting re-energized by young people who are becoming the movement’s new torchbearers.
This year’s march and rally took place three days after the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision to better accommodate participants, since the official Jan. 22 anniversary was the day after public ceremonies for the presidential inauguration.
Hundreds of high school and college groups were scattered throughout the rally crowd; their members, often in matching hats, were texting, taking pictures and creatively protesting by wearing pro-life stickers on their faces and carrying placards in the backs of their jackets.
Their placards did not have jarring images or messages but predominantly took a gentler tone such as: “Abolish Abortion Courageously” or “I am the pro-life generation.”