UNIQUE FROM DAY ONE!
As the cold, dreary morning dawned on Washington, DC, few realized that history was about to be made. The wet slushy ground and the heavy clouds made for an ominous backdrop to the 46th annual March for Life.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, and chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, who had celebrated a Prayer Vigil and Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the evening before, and the March for Life President, Jeanne Mancini, made their way to the banner to lead the march up Constitution Avenue. The procession started 45 minutes late due to the immensity of the crowds. A huge traffic jam had occurred a few blocks away: a tangle caused by an unprecedented number of buses, buses that kept coming and coming and didn’t bring the estimated 100,000 marchers, which event organizers had expected and planned for but triple the number, making the crowd well over 300,000 - possibly the largest March for Life in history and a march unlike any other.
March for Life began in Washington, D.C., as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.
The vision of March for Life is a world where the beauty and dignity of every human life are valued and protected. Its mission is to end abortion by uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.
January 22, 1973 is ingrained in the minds of pro-lifers because on that infamous historic day the Supreme Court invalidated 50 state laws and made abortion legal and available on demand throughout the United States in the now-infamous decisions in Roe v Wadeand Doe v Bolton. The US Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, affirms the legality of a woman's right to have an abortion under the Fourteenth amendment to the Constitution.
In October of the same year, months after the Roe and Doedecisions, a group of thirty pro-life leaders gathered at the home of Nellie Gray in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Roe. 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. Nellie Gray soon became known as the founder of the March for Life and the “Joan of Arc” of the pro-life movement. Gray died in August 2012 but her vision has continued.
This year’s March for Life, once again, gathered a myriad pro-life advocates to mark the anniversary of legalized abortion in America, and in a surprise appearance Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence introduced a pre-recorded message from President Donald Trump in which he announced, “Every life is worth protecting,” “This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life,” President Trump said before the crowd began its march through the streets of Washington, D.C. “When we look into the eyes of a newborn child we see the beauty of the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation, we know that every life has meaning and every life is worth protecting.” “I will always protect the first right in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life,” he said.
The theme for 2019’s March for Life was “Unique from Day One” as Trump reiterated in his address to the crowd, “Every child is a sacred gift from God,” “Each person is unique from day one! That’s a very important phrase… unique from day one. And so true… Together we will work to save the lives of unborn children.”
“We gather here because we stand for life,” the vice president said. “We gather here because we stand for compassion. We gather here because we believe as our founders did because we believe all of us, born and unborn, are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and first among these rights is the right to life.” Pence said that the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wadedecision “turned its back on that right,” but that decision gave birth to “a movement born by compassion and love, a movement animated by faith and truth, a movement that’s been winning hearts and minds every day since.” Because of those gathered here, he said, “We know in our hearts that life is winning once again.”
Pence praised and thanked pregnancy center volunteers, adoptive families, and “courageous men and women who step forward to serve in public office” in the U.S. capitol and state legislatures. He urged pro-life advocates to “stand strong” and give reasons for their hope “with gentleness and respect.” “They will attack you, they will question your hearts to silence others but don’t listen to them. Listen to the truth,” he said. He told marchers that God will not forsake them and they do not stand alone. “Know that you have an unwavering ally in this vice president and this family. And you have a champion in the President of the United States, President Donald Trump.”
A video sponsored by the Knights of Columbus showed the pro-life work of the Catholic men’s organization, including its ultrasound machine donation program. Its head, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, spoke to the rally and cited a Knights-sponsored poll showing strong support for “substantial restrictions” on abortion and policies to “protect mother and child before birth.”
He also asked eligible men to join the Knights of Columbus, which has about 1.9 million members worldwide. The group’s many friends and allies spoke out after a controversial December Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which two Democratic senators had questioned a judicial nominee’s membership in the Knights due to their views on abortion rights and marriage.
Dr. Kathi Aultman, a former abortionist and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reflected on her journey away from performing abortions. “If it was wanted, it was a baby. If it wasn’t wanted, it was a fetus,” she said. While qualms about abortions arose during her neonatal rotation, when she tried to save babies the same gestational age as those she was aborting, only the birth of her daughter made her stop performing abortions. After realizing that women who kept their babies did better compared to those who had sought abortions, and watching nearly aborted children in her church grow up instead, her views began to change further. Caring family and friends brought her fully to the pro-life cause.
The event emcee Jeanne Mancini said the country was “forever changed” by Roe v. Wade.“Since that time, we have tragically lost over 60 million American children, little girls and little boys, to abortion. And many mothers and fathers regret having been involved in abortion,” she said. “We’re marching to end the human rights abuse of our time, abortion,” Mancini told marchers. “That’s why we march. And that’s why you are so urgently needed.” She encouraged marchers to share their story on social media, using the hashtag #WhyWeMarch.
Dr. Alveda King, a niece of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the closing prayer.
By Judith Weible