Washington, D.C., is the political heart of the United States, the place where laws are made and culture is formed. Historically, large crowds who protest here send the world a powerful message: that they are serious about change.
Last weekend, following Donald Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 440,000 participated in the D.C.-based Women’s March. This past weekend, the March for Life followed with its forty-fourth gathering since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
In previous years, the March for Life, which opposes the ruling, has drawn very sizable crowds. In 2013, there was an estimated 650,000. This year was also very well attended, with people coming from across the United States and beyond to unite in their opposition to abortion.
Also attending the event this year were some high-profile figures. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd, making history as the highest-ranking U.S. government official to speak in person at a March (presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have addressed the crowds via telephone in the past).
In Pence's address, he called on the need for “gentleness.” He said, “Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation.”
Mia Love, the U.S. representative from Utah’s fourth congressional district, gave a heartfelt speech saying when her parents, immigrants from Haiti, decided keep their unexpected pregnancy, they allowed her to become the first black Republican ever elected to Congress. Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway also addressed the crowds and pledged the new president’s allegiance to the pro-life cause.
The marchers who braved the cold sang songs, chanted, and carried multicolored banners. Among the banners were: “Defund Planned Parenthood”; “Real feminism defends life”; “I will use my voice for those who cannot speak”; and “Social justice starts in the womb.”
Louise Grant is the development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Scotland. Her group, the oldest pro-life organization in the world, traveled from Scotland to be at the march. She explained that abortion is not solely an American, or even a political, issue. Grant, who also works in post-abortion care, said, “What made me fall in love with the pro-life movement is that we’re the ones who are there for people in crisis pregnancies, and we are the ones who are there for women after abortion.”
Because the March for Life came so soon after the Women’s March, with the controversial noninvolvement of pro-life women fresh in many people’s minds, the two sides of the abortion debate are more visible than ever. Both marches, despite their differences, were undeniably successful in bringing together immense and diverse crowds to advocate for women. In a time when tolerance feels low and tension high, to see people peacefully demonstrating for heated issues is a democratic display not to be taken lightly.
Photo Credit: NBC News