MANILA, Jan. 28, 2013—Not even freezing temperatures and the expected absence of mainstream media coverage of the 40th March for Life dissuaded pro-lifers from taking part in the annual event in Washington D.C. on Friday, drawing an estimated 500,000 – 650,000 people from around the United States to protest 40 years of legal abortion since the Jan. 22, 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, and to pray that laws be changed to respect the dignity of human life.
The 2013 event saw a few changes from the previous years’ – instead of the usual dozens of politicians speaking at the rally prior to the march, only “nine legislators were announced and only a handful spoke,” according to the Catholic News Herald.
Social media also played a vital role in the event’s popularity and the pace at which the public was being updated about the day’s happenings. Before the start of the rally, Boston Cardinal and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on pro-life activities Sean O’Malley announced a Twitter message from Pope Benedict XVI, resulting in cheers breaking out in the huge crowd:
“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”
Among those who delivered speeches prior to the march were Senator Rand Paul, House Speaker John Boehner, New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, Tennessee Representative Diane Black, former senator and Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum, new president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund Jeanne Monahan (March for Life founder Nellie Gray passed away in August 2012), Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Georgette Forney of Silent No More.
A representative of the youth sector took to the stage as well this year. Ruben Verastegui, president of Northwest Vista College Students for Life, assured the youth that they were not alone. “Sometimes it’s going to feel like you’re alone on campus as a pro-lifer. But take a look around you right now,” Verastegui said, urging young people to “get out there and make change happen.”
Smith gave a rousing speech, in which he reminded the hundreds of thousands gathered near the national mall that “the pro-life movement is comprised of noble, caring, smart and selfless people. It is an extraordinarily powerful, non-violent, faith-filled human rights struggle that is growing in public support, intensity, commitment and hope.”
“We indeed, Mr. President, must care for the vulnerable, but that also includes unborn children and their mothers. No one gets left behind. No one gets left out,” he also said, alluding to the words spoken by President Barack Obama during his second inaugural address days before.
“All people are created—not born—created equal. And our journey is not complete until all of our children, including the child in the womb, are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm,” Smith said.
“Can a nation conceived in liberty carry its head high if it denies protection to the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens? Can a country founded on God-given rights continue to thrive without understanding that life is a precious gift from our Creator?” Paul said in his speech.
This year’s March for Life, beamed worldwide via the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and treated as a non-issue by most mainstream media networks despite the half a million crowd just like the previous years, showed the growing number of young people getting involved in the pro-life movement.
Signs bearing “I am the pro-life generation” as well as messages like “I survived Roe vs. Wade — Roe vs. Wade will not survive me” and “Courageously abolishing abortion” were all over the crowd that marched from the national mall to Capitol Hill and ended in front of the Supreme Court.
Several other activities apart from the march were also held in Washington D.C. on the same week as part of the yearly event, including a youth rally for life, , a National Prayer Vigil for Life held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood facility, the Americans United for Life Legal Conference, the All Life is Sacred rally, the Students for Life of America National Conference, the Cardinal O’Connor Conference, and the Rose Dinner, which is always held on the night of the March for Life.
The crime of abortion was legalized as a result of the US Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, handed down on January 22, 1973. Pro-lifers got to work soon after, and a year later the first March for Life took place with roughly 20,000 people congregating in front of the Supreme Court in the nation’s capital to express their protest of the infamous decision, which they have said manifests discrimination against unborn children who are entitled to the most basic human right to life. (CBCP for Life)