Pro-life supporters from across the country braved the elements in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 to legalize abortion, to make the annual March for Life from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Supreme Court building.
Couples, women with babies snug against their chests, students, grandparents, Catholics, Protestants, representatives from the Jewish community, and those with no faith, braved the biting cold, waving signs, cheering and clapping for speakers while covering their faces, rubbing hands together and stamping their feet to stay warm at the starting rally near the Washington Monument. Legislators, pro-life and religious leaders urged marchers to continue their commitment to the pro-life cause.
Photo by Chad Bartlett
Russell Moore, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president, speaks Jan. 22 at the March for Life Rally in Washington, D.C. "We pray … that we will receive all people regardless of stage of conception, or disability, as made in the image of God," he said as he led the crowd in prayer.
On the platform was Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore, who led the march’s final charge and a closing prayer, beseeching God to make the march unnecessary for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “We pray … that we will receive all people regardless of stage of conception, or disability, as made in the image of God.
“Lord, as we march, we pray for confidence … not in our numbers … not in our strength, but in the confidence that the light shines in the darkness, the darkness has not, the darkness will not, the darkness cannot overcome it. And we are here of many faiths, and some of no faith but I pray this in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thousands of anxious marchers were already on their way before Moore’s “Amen,” a huge sea of people, all bundled up for the cold, carrying signs, some chanting, some holding hands, priests’ and nuns’ robes flying behind them as they moved. With the snow continuing to fall, and the rest of Washington scurrying to gather last-minute supplies, a state of emergency called, the crowd appeared upbeat and spirited. As Washington, D.C., was shutting down, the march moved forward.
Previously, also on the platform, March for Life Chairman Patrick Kelly welcomed marchers to “… the largest annual civil rights demonstration in the world.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told the crowd, “We are turning the tide! Today, the pro-life movement is stronger than ever and is making serious, significant and sustained progress,” Smith said.
“State level gains have been historic,” Smith said, adding that 282 pro-life laws have been enacted since 2010. “In the last year alone, nine powerful pro-life measures have passed the house,” he said.
Smith referred to Planned Parenthood as “Child Abuse Incorporated,” systematically destroying children and hurting women. Smith said more than 57 million children have been aborted since 1973, which is estimated to be the killing of a child every two minutes.
“You are the antidote … to this present darkness, the culture of death,” Smith said.
“For the sake of women and children, because we love them both, be further involved, defend life with all the courage, faith, insight compassion and love that you have to muster,” he said. “Don’t back down, or give up or ever get discouraged. Ever. Ask God for strength. Combine persistent prayer with ‘Esther-like’ fasting. Combine it all with smart and diligent pro-life work in every level including the political. Someday soon America will protect the weakest and most vulnerable, and into eternity each and every one of you will have played a critical part in this human rights struggle.”
Photo by Sharon Mager
ERLC President Russell Moore and other pro-life speakers raise joined hands in unison at the end of the March for Life rally Jan. 22 .
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, coming straight from the inaugural “Evangelicals for Life” conference, sponsored by the ERLC and Focus on the Family, at the nearby Hyatt Regency, Capitol Hill, was quick to acknowledge the large Roman Catholic contingency presence.
“I’m an evangelical, but thank you to the Catholics for leading the way! We are grateful for your leadership on this issue for life. It’s taken awhile for us to come to the party but we are with you,” Daly said to a cheering crowd.
Daly said Focus on the Family’s “Option Ultrasound,” which provides grants for ultrasound machines and sonographer training to life-affirming pregnancy medical clinics in communities with high abortion rates throughout the United States, has saved an estimated 358,000 from abortion.
“Moving forward, we need to look at those who aren’t awake yet to the reality of what’s being done, with the grace of God, the love of God and the truth of God’s Word,” he said.
Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said, “Even a ‘Snowmageddon’ can’t stop us from rallying for a cause we know is so important.”
Fiorina told marchers the next president would have the responsibility to choose Supreme Court justices that will decide issues of life and religious liberty.
“Ours is a fight for the character of our nation, for the value of life,” Fiorina said.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), responded to claims that efforts to defend and protect life constitute a “war on women.”
“I reject that. I am a woman,” Ernst said. “I have been to war. Let me be clear. This is no war on women. Being pro-life means you have a deep respect for the miracle of life and a woman’s unique ability to bring life into this world.”
“Being pro-life means you mourn the loss of thousands of baby girls and boys who are lost to abortion in the United States each year,” she said.
Former abortion clinic worker Jewels Green spoke on behalf of the “Silent No More Awareness Campaign.” Green shared her story of being a pregnant teenager and alone. “I knew no one who was pro-life,” she said. “I already thought of myself as a parent … but no one agreed with me. No one advocated for life. So I surrendered … to abort my first child.” Shortly afterwards, Green attempted suicide and later spent a month in a psychiatric clinic. She then went on to work in an abortion facility where she tried to believe abortion was “no big deal.”
“But I knew I missed my baby,” Green said. “And I saw the women in the waiting room, crying in the procedure room, crying in the recovery room day after day, year after year.”
Many years later, Green said she faced the truth that abortion is always wrong. “Abortion always extinguishes the light of life of a unique, irreplaceable and unrepeatable member of our human family,” she said. “It was accepting this truth that finally led me to spiritual conversion, forgiveness and healing. Once I became pro-life I knew I couldn’t stay silent. Thank you for welcoming us who have been converted, welcoming repentant mothers and fathers…. I’m finished surrendering to a world that treats women as disposable.
“I’m Jewels Green, and I am ‘Silent no More.’”
Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens’ center from 2009-2013, was part of the team that won Super Bowl XLVII. Kelly, March for Life chairman, called Birk a Super Bowl Champ and a pro-life champ. Birk received significant media coverage when he chose not to participate in a White House Super Bowl celebration with President Barack Obama because of the president’s support for Planned Parenthood.
Birk told the crowd many asked him why he attends the march. “I’m a football player. I like to keep things real simple,” he said with a smile.
He noted, “I’ve never heard a woman give birth to a baby and say ‘I wish I had an abortion.’ That’s why we march. I’ve never heard someone say ‘I wish I had fewer kids.’ That’s why we march!”
“… If you’ve ever seen a baby being born, even though it happens millions of times a day, it’s still a miracle, it’s pure joy,” he said. “If you’ve ever experienced adoption, which my family and I recently did, it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world. It’s an act of sacrifice by the birth mother to know that she can’t give the child what he or she needs and so she does the selfless act of giving the baby up for adoption. That is love. In this world where we have dictators and communism and nuclear weapons and disease, don’t we need more miracles? Don’t we need more joy? Don’t we need more love?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sharon Mager is communications specialist at the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network in Columbia, Md.)