Braving cold temperatures and a blizzard barreling toward the nation’s capital, tens of thousands of pro-life activists gathered for the 43rd March for Life Friday.
“There is no sacrifice too great to fight the human rights abuse of abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. She called for a “Tweetstorm” using the hashtag, #WhyWeMarch, to spread pro-life news on social media.
The event was livestreamed on EWTN Global Catholic Network and the March for Life website.
This year’s march theme is that being pro-life and pro-woman “go hand in hand.”
Standing against abortion is not a “war on women,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, who noted the thousands of mothers, sisters and grandmothers in the crowd.
“I am a woman. And I have been to war. And let me be clear: This is no war on women,” said Ms. Ernst, who served in the U.S. Army and Iowa Army National Guard.
Being pro-life means having deep respect for the miracle of life and of woman’s unique ability to bring life into this world, she said.
“This election is a fight for the character of our nation,” said Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who recalled the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover videos about the harvesting and purported sale of aborted babies’ organs.
“We are winning this fight, but it is a fight,” Ms. Fiorina said.
Organizers played a video about the 1913 march by women for voting rights, noting that Alice Paul, who organized the Women’s Suffrage Parade, called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, leader of the Susan B. Anthony List.
She urged modern pro-life women and others to call for an end of government funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a national ban on abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks — and presumably can feel pain — and eventually “overturn the culture of death ushered in by Roe v. Wade 43 years ago today.”
Rep. Christopher Smith, New Jersey Republican; Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; and former football center Matt Birk, who played for the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, were among the speakers who addressed the crowd.
Nuns with Little Sisters of the Poor, who are fighting the federal health care rules, were cheered when they briefly appeared at the rally.
News of the impending blizzard — due to arrive a few hours after the marchers finished their journey at the Supreme Court steps — caused many groups to drop their plans to bring busloads of people and students to the march, several speakers noted.
One of the biggest cancellations was the Students of Life for America’s massive East Coast National Conference, which was scheduled for Saturday in a Maryland megachurch.
“We’ve never done this before, and I waited to the absolute last minute to make this call, but the state governments here have declared state of emergencies — the roads are going to close and the public transportation is being suspended,” Ms. Hawkins said in an email to supporters announcing the cancellation of the conference.
“Thankfully, we’ve located food banks where we can send the food we’ve already purchased to help feed more than 3,500 people this weekend,” Ms. Hawkins wrote, but she put out an urgent call for benefactors and donors to help defray some $35,000 in nonrefundable expenses.
Separately, abortion-rights leaders such as Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, also commemorated Friday as the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. Americans are on their side, with polls showing that seven in 10 Americans support legal abortion, they said.
March for Life speakers countered that a new Marist poll found that 57 percent of 1,686 Americans want abortion to be completely illegal or legal only in the rare cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the life of the mother.