By Sarah Steighner
WASHINGTON D.C. – As winter storm Jonas closed schools and sent government officials home early in Washington D.C., thousands of people drove into the epicenter of the storm and filled the national mall Jan. 22.
The annual March for Life first started after the 1973 court case Roe v. Wade that
legalized abortion. Every year since, peaceful pro-life protesters have gathered on the National Mall for a rally to protest abortion, followed by a march to the Supreme Court.
As Washington D.C. was put under a state of emergency, a press release from the March for Life Education and Defense Fund was issued. Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life warned participants to use their own judgment when deciding their travel plans and attendance.
“We are very concerned for people’s safety and want everyone to be cautious,” wrote Mancini. “However, the pro-life community is also concerned for the safety and well-being of the innocent, unborn in the womb. This movement to end abortion in this country is bigger than us and it is bigger than a weather event. This is a cause that is worth our best efforts and dedication, despite difficult circumstances.”
The rally began at a quarter to one as the Washington Monument loomed over the age, political, and religiously diverse crowd. The rally itself lasted approximately an hour and a half and consisted of an array of speakers from presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, to Jewels Green of the Silent No More campaign and even former Baltimore Ravens player Matt Birk.
Spoken word performance poet Shawn Welcome started out the ceremony with an emotional spoken word poem that paralleled the injustices of abortion to slavery.
“No formal funerals, nor miniature caskets. Only the likes of medical waste management. Tell me: How many pounds of flesh do you pick up for profit? And when will that weight begin to weigh down on your conscience?” questioned Welcome.
Welcome’s closing call to action encouraged peaceful dialogue within the movement, in order to promote an ongoing dialogue of abortion. “I’m all for non-violence, because words can change trends. But worse than words from my enemies is the silence from my friends,” Welcome said.
Cheers welcomed Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to the stage. Fiorina discussed the sanctity of the life, and the need to defund Planned Parenthood before turning the tune of her speech into campaign discourse. She tried to appeal to conservative single issue voters, by specifically challenging Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s pro-choice ideals.
Mixed applause was frequent, but Fiorina’s pleas for the value of life to be recognized received the loudest cheers of support. “I have battled breast cancer; I have buried a child; I have read the bible. I know the value of life,” Fiorina said.
The rally ended about the same time as the flags surrounding the Washington Monument picked up the first winds of the impending snow storm. Nevertheless, protesters entered on to Constitution Avenue and began the march to Capitol Hill.
Amongst the thousands of peaceful protesters was Amy Buchwald. Buchwald has been going to the March for Life for 21 years. For the past eight years she has also organized a bus from her church St. Joseph in Cabot, Pennsylvania to go to the march.
Buchwald described the March for Life as a day of both joy and sorrow. “It’s a sad day because we’re reminded in a very big way of all of the lives lost – people killed – since 1973, especially when we hear the testimonies of women & men who regret their abortions & lost parenthood,” Buchwald said. “And yet, it’s also a joyful day because we come together & support each other’s efforts to let our lawmakers know that we don’t think abortion should be allowed.”
While many people at the march have been going for years like Buchwald, the March for Life gets new protesters every year as well. This year was Becky Adams first year at the march. The 35-year-old stay at home mother of four, travelled from Philadelphia with three friends from the Grace City Church Northeast.
“It was wonderful for me to see so many young people making a stand for life,” Adams said. “I loved all the signs, the cheers, the prayers and the smiles. This group of people are not “crazy” like the media likes to make us out to be, but rather we are passionate to defend those who cannot defend themselves.”
As many people on the east coast left work and fled the roads during winter storm Jonas, the March for Life continued as the largest annual civil rights march in America, and plans to continue until Roe v. Wade is overturned.