On Jan. 23, an estimated 400,000 protesters, including a large number of youths, marched on Washington, D.C., in the annual March for Life.
This was the 39th straight year pro-life advocates rallied on or around the anniversary of the “Roe v. Wade” decision with the goal of overturning it.
Four other University of Dallas freshmen and I participated in what MSNBC called “the largest and longest-running peaceful human rights demonstration for the unborn.”
The day of the march was cold and rainy, causing the Houston native in our group to complain about the “Arctic conditions,” but the protesters were undaunted and enthusiastic.
The demonstration, which is the main part of an event that lasts several days and includes conferences, Masses and discussions, began with a rally at noon. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to hear both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority leader Eric Cantor speak to the assembled crowd, but we made our way through the crowd of people to listen to a few words from various pro-life senators and representatives.
Despite the weather conditions, our fellow marchers were friendly and passionate, offering us room under their umbrellas and complimenting each other on clever signs, such as one depicting the Dr. Seuss character Horton the Elephant beside his quote, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!”
We took a shortcut around the swarms of people – students from high schools and colleges around the country, families, and people of all ages and races – to see the front of the march.
Undergraduates from Christendom College led the way, following the event organizers who held a white “March for Life” banner so large that volunteers had to clear the entire street in front of it so the protesters could pass.
As we joined the crowd and began walking uphill to the Supreme Court building, I looked behind and could see no end to the marchers. Colorful signs and banners decorated the scene.
I was struck by the diversity of it all. A group of mostly African-American students performed Eminem’s “Not Afraid,” revising it slightly to fit the occasion. Rabbis walked next to a group of Holy Cross seminarians, and a large cluster of Hispanic families prayed the rosary in Spanish.
As we approached the Supreme Court we encountered a small number of pro-choice counter-protesters, but their words were barely audible above the chatter and chants of the pro-life marchers.
A group of women from Silent No More, an organization that raises awareness of the pain and regret of abortion, told their stories over a microphone, drawing a large gathering around the steps of the Supreme Court building.
The March for Life receives little press coverage from major news outlets. UD freshman Kaitlin Meske, who participated in the march, was surprised by the media’s silence: “There were so many people, so much passion … and yet that night, Fox was the only place that mentioned it and even that didn’t give numbers.”
The print edition of the “New York Times” did not mention the protest at all, and newspapers such as the “Washington Times” and the “L.A. Times” either vaguely stated or underreported the number of demonstrators.
CBS News went so far as to not only represent the event as having equal numbers of protesters on each side of the issue, but also to include only photographs of pro-choice proponents in its online photo gallery. In response to an onslaught of outraged criticism from pro-life supporters, the site changed its gallery to more accurately portray the demonstration.
Though the University of Dallas did not send a group of students to the D.C. march this year, many students attended the Dallas March for Life on Jan. 21 with Crusades for Life. Some students, however, made the decision to make the long drive to D.C., including freshman Kayla Nguyen, who has attended the event for several years.
“I feel like it gets bigger and more exciting every year, and because it was an election year, I feel like it was more electric,” she said. “Hopefully, we won’t have [a reason] to go next year.”