Today, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers gathered in Washington, D.C., for the 46th annual March for Life. This pro-life rally began in 1974, a year after the Supreme Court cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton made abortion legal and on-demand throughout the United States.
After the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, a group gathered in the home of Nellie Gray, a pro-life activist working in the nation’s capitol. They discussed how to approach the first anniversary of Roe. What was born out of that meeting is the March for Life. Gray decided to hold a march every year until Roe v. Wade is overturned. For more on its history, my colleague Jeff Pickering interviewed Jeanne Mancini, the current president of the March for Life who followed Gray, on our Capitol Conversations podcast about the story of how the march came to be and its history with the pro-life movement.
Each year since 1974, crowds upwards of 500,000 have gathered on the lawn of the National Mall for a rally and then marched together to the steps of the Supreme Court. The goal is to promote the dignity and worth of every unborn child, and cast a vision for a future when abortion is unthinkable. The March for Life is the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world. It is a time to both grieve for the lives lost but also celebrate the miracle of life. It is a protest, but one of peace, hope, and prayer.
This year, for the first time in the country’s history, the president of the United States addressed the March for Life in person. President Trump first addressed the march in January 2019 through a video simulcast from the White House Rose Garden. His remarks via technology built on previous precedent of pro-life presidents that included four addresses by phone from President Reagan in the eighties and an address from President Bush in the early 2000s.
The National March each January in Washington, D.C., is a moving testament to the power of our collective voice to encourage one another to endure in the work of building a culture of life.
Vice President Pence brought in-person remarks from the administration in 2017 and again in 2019, making him the first vice president of the U.S. to join the march on stage. This year, President Trump joined the march on stage and delivered a speech about the importance of the pro-life policies and regulations his administration has prioritized. Pro-life advocates believe these in-person addresses by both the vice president and now president moves the goal post for actions that future pro-life administrations will be expected to take.
The theme of this year’s March is “Life Empowered: Pro-Life is Pro-woman,” emphasizing that it’s important for pro-life advocates work to end abortion while also uplifting and protecting women. The lives of both the unborn child and the woman matter deeply, and it’s encouraging to see the pro-life community recognize that fact. Pro-lifers understand that their goal shouldn’t be to merely to end abortions, but to ensure that people in vulnerable situations feel seen and cared for. One of the ways this is accomplished is by supporting women and their babies. Many pregnancy resource centers do this by providing material and emotional support for women in vulnerable circumstances, and seek to care holistically for the woman and her child.
The March for Life has existed for decades and has served as a steady rallying point each year for the pro-life community to present a united front to the world. There are many churches, organizations, and community efforts that uphold the dignity of the unborn and of every woman, man, and child. The National March each January in Washington, D.C., is a moving testament to the power of our collective voice to encourage one another to endure in the work of building a culture of life.