For 46 years, thousands of people from across the country have gathered in Washington D.C. each January in the March for Life. The annual event is held to commemorate the January 22, 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, to mourn the 60 million babies who have been killed in its wake, and to call for the end of abortion. The March For Life’s stated mission is to “End abortion by uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.”
This year’s event was Friday, January 18 with snow on the ground and an expected high of 37 degrees. The estimated attendance was 200,000 to 300,000, which included myself, my 6-month pregnant wife, and our preborn son. With a crowd this size, you would expect the national mainstream media coverage. Looking for branded news trucks, reporters, or cameras, I saw cameras with logos for Broadcast Sports International, EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, and NBC. According to MRC NewsBusters, NBC provided the most coverage, of the major media affiliates, with 44 seconds between Friday’s NBC Nightly News and Saturday’s Today. Perhaps the best video of the event, a time lapse of the crowd marching from the National Mall down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court, was not posted by a news agency, but rather a pro-life student group called Students for Life.
Because of the truly astonishing lack of coverage the March for Life receives each year, the most common question we have received is a simple and understandable one: “What was it like?”
The atmosphere was cheerful and positive. The crowd was a united community of strangers, and the experience was a whirlwind of emotions.
Sheer happiness as a young girl with down syndrome waved and blew kisses from the stage to the roaring delight of the crowd.
Heartbreak when Abby Johnson shared her story of her life being turned upside down when she resigned as a Planned Parenthood Clinic Director after watching an abortion on ultrasound. Joyous as she shared about the ministry she founded to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry.
Grief as Dr. Kathi Aultman bared her soul, sharing how she performed abortions, compartmentalizing her actions until she read an article comparing what she was doing to the Holocaust. Comfort as she related the grace God has poured out on her.
Incredible, goosebump-inducing excitement as Democrat State Rep. Katrina Jackson from Louisiana throughout her speech would say “We fight” pausing each time for the crowd to respond “for life.”
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) all spoke, and even with a video from President Donald Trump and a surprise appearance and speech by Vice President Mike Pence, the rally did not have a political, partisan feel. While there were a few Make America Great Again hats sprinkled throughout the crowd, there were not as many as I expected nor were there as many Trump signs as I thought there might be.
“Make Unborn Babies Great Again” signs were seen throughout the crowd, as well as other signs distributed by pro-life organizations with phrases like “Defund Planned Parenthood,” “Reza por el fin del aborto” (Pray for the end of abortion), and my personal favorite, a sign made by the Human Coalition with a panda bear holding a sign reading “Save the Baby Humans.”
On the mile and half march from the rally at the National Mall to the Supreme Court, we observed hand-written signs with “Hey, Planned Parenthood, go fund yourself” and “The birth of every child changes the world.” More personal signs included “Grateful a woman made THE courageous choice,” “My birth mom chose the other A word, adoption. She is my hero,” “A person is a person no matter how small,” and a young boy with a sign reading “Please stop abortion because it kills children like me.”
There were signs focused on science and this year’s theme of Unique from Day One. There was a man carrying a wood beam cross. There were feminists carrying signs expressing their pro-life, pro-women views. There were whites, blacks, Hispanics, Indians, families pushing kids in strollers, pregnant women, old people with walkers, and those in wheelchairs. English was spoken; Spanish was spoken. Nuns were walking with prayer beads praying. Catholic liturgies and hymns were being sung, there were drumlines, and student groups chanting things like “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Roe v Wade has got to go.” There were college groups from Notre Dame, Patrick Henry, Belmont Abbey, Colorado Christian, Princeton, and others. High school groups from all over the country wearing matching bright beanie hats, sweatshirts, or scarves. The amount of youth was incredible. They carried “We are the pro-life generation” signs, and the energy they exuded in true belief that abortion can be ended in our lifetime was felt by those around them.
That was the main takeaway and our biggest encouragement. There are people of all different backgrounds and beliefs all over the country who, by God’s grace and revelation, understand the evil reality of abortion and desire to see it ended. Abortion is not a political issue. It is a spiritual issue with political ramifications. Missionary Hudson Taylor once said, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” If you are pro-life but have not yet had the opportunity to attend the March for Life, allow me to challenge you to do so. It will be an experience you will never forget. In the meantime, be encouraged, because while ending abortion is still currently difficult, by God’s grace, it may be done in our lifetime.
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