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Explainer: What you should know about the March for Life

Jan 18, 2019

What is the March for Life?

The March for Life is an annual pro-life event held in Washington, D.C., in January. The overall goal of the march is to “end abortion by uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.”

This year’s March will take place on Friday, January 18. The event begins with the March for Life Rally, at 11 a.m. on the National Mall. Following the Rally, the March up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court and Capitol Building begins at approximately 1 p.m.

Various local events related to the March for Life are also held throughout the United States.

The March for Life Education and Defense Fund’s is also a nonprofit organization that conducts year-round pro-life education and legislative work, as well as hosting the annual March every January.

Why is the March for Life held in January?

Each year the March is held on or around the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in the case Roe v. Wade. The first March for Life was held in the nation’s capital on Jan. 22, 1974—exactly one year after the Roe decision was announced.

How did the March for Life get started?

The annual event was started by pro-life activist Nellie Gray. Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe in 1973, Gray retired from her federal career and dedicated the remainder of her life to the protection of the unborn.

In October 1973, a group of 30 pro-life leaders gathered in Gray’s home in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Roe. According to the March for Life organization, “There was a fear that January 22 would pass as any other day rather than allow for a moment to reflect upon how legalized abortion had hurt women and taken babies’ lives over the course of the year. That was the day that plans for the first March for Life began.”

Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe in 1973, Gray retired from her federal career and dedicated the remainder of her life to the protection of the unborn. Before her death in 2012, Gray had attended every March for Life, which at the time totaled 38 rallies.

How many people attend the March for Life?

The original March in 1974 was attended by 20,000 pro-lifers. By 2003, the event brought in around 250,000 attendees each year. In the past few years, however, an estimated 300,000-400,000 people braved the cold to attend the D.C March.

How is Evangelicals for Life connected to the March for Life?

The annual Evangelicals For Life Conference began in 2016 in order to coincide with the March for Life. This three-day conference exists to help evangelicals articulate a truly Christian doctrine on the dignity of all human life. This year’s event, held at McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia, had 50 speakers and ended with attendees joining other pro-lifers for the March for Life.

ERLC also hosts a series of Congressional constituent meetings surrounding Evangelicals for Life and March for Life to promote pro-life issues, foster care and adoption, and a range of other policies related to human dignity.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter has an MBA from Marymount University and is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus. He and his wife, Misty, have one daughter. Read More