The day actually consists of a series of events participated in by tens of thousands of people dedicated to defending the right to life, including a Tuesday afternoon youth rally in the Hyatt Regency hotel, a Wednesday morning youth rally and Mass for Life held simultaneously at the 28,000-seat Verizon Center and 10,000-seat D.C. Armory, the March for Life Rally straddling the noon hour, and then the March itself, which follows its route up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill.
Another event scheduled for Tuesday, the Nellie Gray 5K race, named for the march’s founder, was cancelled due to the snow and bitter cold.
While exact attendance figures for this year’s event are not available as we write, the 2013 March for Life drew an estimated 650,000 people. The first March for Life in 1974, formed in response to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision made on January 22, 1973, drew 20,000 marchers. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional all state laws prohibiting abortion. National Right to Life estimates that there have been more than 56 million abortions in the United States since the decision was given.
A tweet from the March for Life said: “We march because 56 million Americans never had a chance to experience snow.”
Pope Francis also sent a tweet to the marchers: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
USA Today quoted Veronika Johannsen, 22, of College Station, Texas, who managed to travel to Washington, despite the bad winter weather en route, to attend her second March for Life.
“The face is changing. It’s not just white male politicians like the pro-choice people like to say,” said Johannsen. “All kinds of people come. Religious groups of all different denominations, former abortion workers, women who have been raped or have been conceived in rape.”
A theme repeated over and over again during this year’s events was that adoption is the pro-life alternative to abortion, for those women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy and feel unable to raise a child themselves.
“We want to encourage women facing the option of abortion to choose adoption,” said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund — the parent organization of the march. “Adoption is at the center of motherhood. Motherhood is all about sacrifices. This is an ultimate sacrifice for the good of the baby.”
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Photo of pro-life demonstrators marching in Washington, D.C. January 22: AP Images