Each year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s harmful Roe v. Wade decision, pro-life citizens gather in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, an annual peaceful pro-life demonstration.
Tens of thousands are expected to descend upon Washington, D.C. on January 18-19 for the 45th annual March for Life and coordinating events. Participants walk the near two miles from the Washington Monument to the steps of the Supreme Court in blustery January temperatures to commemorate the over 58 million unborn lives lost to abortion in the United States and to promote human dignity for all.
Maybe you’re considering joining this year’s March for Life and you want to learn a little more about the event’s background. Or maybe you consider the pro-life movement “a big spectacle” and you need to know more. Either way, this blog post is for you.
Here are seven helpful facts you should know about the March for Life:
1.) The official March for Life is the largest pro-life event in the world
In October 1973, a small group of 30 pro-life citizens gathered at the home of Nellie Gray to ensure the anniversary of Roe v. Wade would not pass unnoticed. That plan was set in motion on January 22, 1974, when thousands of pro-life advocates united in D.C. for the very first March for Life. Since then, hundreds of thousands have participated in the March for Life, and it is considered the largest pro-life event in the world.
2.) The March for Life 2018 theme is “Love Saves Lives”
Each year the March for Life embraces a new slogan. For example, 2017’s theme was “The Power of One,” a nod to late Congressman Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment. In 2016, the March heralded “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand in Hand!”
This year, the March is noting “Love Saves Lives.” March for Life Education and Defense Fund President Jeanne Mancini explained:
Choosing life is not always easy, but it is the loving, empowering, and self-sacrificial option. Love is universally attractive because it is directed towards others. Love is what we all strive for because deep-down we are all drawn to give of ourselves in this way. Love saves lives in countless ways.
3.) March for Life attendees are notably young and diverse
It’s promising to see the average March participant is a high school or college student. Rented 18 passenger vans drop off pro-life college clubs, church youth groups, and entire high school classes in droves. Whether at the March for Life rally or expo, young people swarm everywhere.
Not only are they young, but they are ethnically diverse. The March invites extends a special invitation to Spanish-speaking participants to attend related events such as the Bilingual Pro-VIDA Mass or Latinos por la Vida (Latinos for Life) Concert. There is also a Latinos por la Vida conference being held on January 20, in conjunction with the March.
Three years ago, I somehow separated from my IRD colleagues among the throngs of marchers. I ended up walking with a high-spirited Hispanic church group that sang worship songs and prayed aloud in Spanish. Most of my new walking mates appeared to be no older than twenty years of age.
4.) March for Life’s staff is largely comprised of women
Pro-life is pro-woman. Whether it’s caring for the wellbeing of an expectant mother or opposing sex-selection abortion, the pro-life movement advances the human dignity of women and girls. While pro-choice activists might paint pro-life advocates as old, white men seeking control of women’s bodies, it’s actually mostly women who work behind the scenes at the March for Life.
Since 2012, Jeanne Mancini has served as President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, the organizer of the annual March. Loretta Fleming serves as March for Life’s Operations Manager. Bethany Goodman serves as Assistant Director. Mary Lembke serves as Meeting and Event Manager. And Anne Marie Warner serves as Administrative Assistant. (You can read more about the March for Life’s team here.)
5.) There is a growing Protestant presence at the March for Life
Historically, the Protestant absence has been noticeable. It’s been our Catholic brothers and sisters who’ve organized, financially contributed, and shown up in busloads to support the March for Life year after year. The Archdiocese of Washington even hosts a Youth Rally and Mass for Life on the morning of the March. Local Catholic churches offer their facilities to groups in need of free lodging. But that trend is slowly changing thanks to several Protestant denomination-affiliated events.
Two such events are the upcoming Anglicans for Life Summit 2018 and the third annual Evangelicals for Life conference hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family. Both events are hosted in conjunction with the March for Life so that all participants have the opportunity to attend the rally and March.
6.) This year, marchers will mourn the 321,384 unborn lives destroyed by Planned Parenthood in 2016-2017 alone.
Planned Parenthood’s newly released annual report reveals the abortion giant completed 321,384 abortion procedures during the 2016-2017 fiscal year (See page 31 of Planned Parenthood’s report). These 321,384 innocent little lives will be added to the more than 58 million unborn lives commemorated during the March for Life. As we march, participants will grieve for those lost, praise God for the lives that have been saved, and pray for the end of abortion in America.
7.) There are 43 local pro-life demonstrations planned across the country
March for Life Education and Defense Fund’s website lists 43 related pro-life events happening across the country in conjunction with the March for Life. So if you are unable make it to Washington, D.C., check here to find a pro-life demonstration near you.
May the Almighty bless all March for Life 2018 organizations, volunteers, speakers, and participants with good health, safe travel, and wise words as they prepare to commemorate the loss of innocents and promote a culture of life.