On January 25th, a record crowd of hundreds of thousands braved frigid temperatures and snow in Washington, D.C. to attend the 40th March for Life to protest Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the US. Pro-life advocates of all ages, faith leaders, elected officials, students and families joined together to give a voice to the defenseless unborn child, calling for an end to abortion. Since the legalization of abortion on demand for all nine months in the United States, over 55 million children have been lost to abortion and countless women have suffered physically and psychologically. Noticeably missing from the March for Life stage was the founder of the March, Nellie Gray, who passed away last year and was remembered in a special video tribute.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner was among the speakers invited to address the March and stated via a recorded message: "Like all of you, it's hard for me to consider a March for Life without Nellie Gray. For more than a generation, Nellie was a leading voice for those who didn't have one. And now it's up to us to be her voice - to commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.
"For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work. In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.
"Defending life, of course, is about much more than voting the right way or saying the right things. It's about promoting a culture of life. It's about understanding that abortion is a defining human rights issue of our time. Because human life is not an economic or political commodity, and no government on Earth has the right to treat it as such.
"With all that's at stake, it is becoming more and more important for us to share this truth with our young people, to encourage them to lock arms, speak out for life, and help make abortion a relic of the past. Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year."
The crowd included a large presence of student groups and young adults, evidence of the growing youth demographic of the pro-life movement. Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, noted this trend telling marchers, "What profoundly scares abortion supporters gives us enormous confidence in the future: young people are more and more pro-life. Our movement is re-energized and renewed every year when we see the March for Life and the rallies and marches held by our state affiliates featuring younger and younger participants."
Lawmakers and pro-life leaders addressed the crowd calling for a renewed commitment to work for an end to abortion. “I believe that great nations and great civilizations spring from a people who have a moral compass,” said U.S. Senator Rand Paul. “We march today for change, but change will only come when we begin to change attitudes. We must preach a gospel so full of compassion, a gospel so full of justice that it cannot be resisted.
“Then, and only then, will the law again protect the innocent,” he concluded.
During his remarks, Congressman Chris Smith, co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, addressed President Obama: "Know this Mr. President, we will never quit. In adversity our faith and trust in God is tested, but it also deepens and overcomes and forges an indomitable yet humble spirit.
"Know this, the pro-life movement is comprised of noble, caring, smart and selfless people. It is an extraordinarily powerful, non-violent, faith-filled human rights struggle that is growing in public support, intensity, commitment and hope.
"And know this Mr. President, the pro-life movement is not only on the side of compassion, justice, and inclusion; we are on the right side of responsible science and of history."
Pope Benedict XVI tweeted his support for the March, saying, "I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life."
Pro-life marches were held across the U.S. last week, drawing large crowds and serving as an important witness of the respect for life, according to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican's highest tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura. "[The] greater the participation in the marches, the stronger the message is to our government that its citizens, those whom the government serves, desire most of all that the laws of the nation foster the common good by protecting all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death," stated Cardinal Burke.