- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow will not stop the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington on Friday, organizers of the pro-life event said Thursday while also advising supporters to use their discretion when deciding whether to attend.

“We are very concerned for people’s safety and want everyone to be cautious,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life. “However, the pro-life community is also concerned for the safety and well-being of the innocent, unborn in the womb.

“This movement to end abortion in this country is bigger than us and it is bigger than a weather event. This is a cause that is worth our best efforts and dedication, despite difficult circumstances,” she said.

Beginning with a rally at noon near the Washington Monument, the march will proceed down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building for another rally at about 3 p.m. — the same time as the National Weather Service predicts a “crippling” winter storm is expected to dump up to two feet of snow on the District. Scheduled speakers include former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, now a Republican presidential candidate.

Metropolitan Police will provide support at the event, and officers from the department’s Special Operations Division will supplement the support so that patrol officers will be available to respond to snow-related problems, a police spokesperson said.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that this year’s march means more than just spreading the word about stopping abortions, it means mobilizing the movement to affect November’s presidential election.

Though the march is not intended to be politically focused, it will be a good opportunity to get young people more active in influencing the presidential election as well as state and local elections this year, Father Pavone said.

“This is an election year, and we need to make sure participants leave the march ready to be active in their communities,” he said.

Father Pavone sees the march and related events as an opportunity to train young people to register votes and get them out to the polls to vote for candidates who are against abortion.

“They have to take the rally home with them and translate that into votes,” he said. “It’s OK to change the hearts and minds of people on the issue, but that must also lead to changing laws. There are political realities.”

Young people already know how to mobilize on social media, Father Pavone said, and using those skills can help politically savvy young people reach out to others and help them take action.

The March for Life began as a small demonstration on Jan. 22, 1974, the first anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion in the United States.

Since then, it has grown into the largest pro-life event in the world, according to a Jan. 14 March for Life statement. It’s not known how many will attend Friday, as march’s organizers do not offer crowd estimates and U.S. Park Police haven’t tallied crowd estimates since 1995. Last year The Washington Times reported that marchers numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

“The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, abortion,” according to a statement on the March for Life website.

Marchers this year are focused on changing the narrative around abortion. Though groups coming to the march will all have their own particular agendas, the overall theme is to show that the pro-life movement is also a pro-woman movement.

After the march at the Supreme Court, women who have had abortions and their family members will share their stories. That event will be part of the Silent No More campaign which seeks to “make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men,” according to the campaign’s website.

“Roe has been framed as helping women medically and with social problems,” said Father Pavone, who also heads the National Pro-Life Religious Council. “But we want to share the voices of people who have been through it.”

Those voices include not only the women who have had abortions, but also the fathers, siblings, aunts and uncles of aborted children, Father Pavone said.

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