WASHINGTON, D.C. – They came from near and far, across deserts, plains and mountains. They were young, old and middle-aged. Their faces reflected the face of America – white, black, Asian and Hispanic.
Clad in coats, hats and sweaters, they all descended on Washington, D.C. on a chilly, blustery January day. The weather may have been cold, but their enthusiasm seemed to warm the air around them. They were there to celebrate the one thing they shared in common: life.
This was the March for Life, a gathering of pro-life advocates held every year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Hundreds of thousands of passionate demonstrators crowded right into the heart of Washington to voice their opposition to abortion.
The event began with an hour-long rally on the National Mall. A few members of Congress spoke, including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. Folk singer Marie Miller serenaded the crowd. The Rev. Sammy Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference fired up the spectators with his closing remarks.
And then came the march. Among the hundreds of thousands of marchers, there were many young faces, most of them filled with passion. A group of teenage girls sang “Jesus Loves Me” as they marched. A crowd of preteen boys recited the familiar call-and-response chant from the movie “Remember the Titans,” replacing the line “We are titans!” with “We are Christians!”
It was clear that many young marchers fully supported the pro-life cause.
“When people can’t stand for themselves, we have to be the ones to do it, and I think it’s important to learn that as teenagers, we need to stand up for what we believe in,” said Izzy Childs, a student at Villa Duchesne High School in St. Louis.
“It’s nice to feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and to feel like as young people, we are making a difference and we are able to speak up and have a voice,” said her classmate, Gabby Alvez.
Some young marchers said their pro-life views were based on their Catholic faith.
“I’m Catholic, first of all, and as Catholics, we believe that abortion is wrong,” said one young man from St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Charlotte. “It’s the killing of an innocent child, and it’s something that we just need to end now.”
“We’re Catholic; we’ve grown up Catholic, and we believe life is something precious,” said Maria, a teenager from Alabama. “Even if there is a chance that human life is involved, it should be respected the utmost, and precautions should be taken for that.”
For some young people, their opposition to abortion was not just based on religion, but also on science.
“It’s still a child, even though it’s not born yet,” said Ciara Dunn from Scituate, Mass. “You can hear the heartbeat in the ultrasound. That’s my favorite part of it. You can see it – the little head and its little feet and its little hands. It’s so cute.”
Of course, young people were not the only ones present at the march. Mike Conigliaro, a former New York state senate candidate from Queens, recognized the importance of so many children participating in the march.
“I’ve seen a lot of young people here today, and I’ve seen a lot of people here today of the younger generation who are showing their support,” Conigliaro said, “and that’s the key ingredient to the future, is that the younger generation needs to expand their knowledge of this, so that as they get older, they can teach those children that are growing up as well exactly what we’re doing here today, and I think it’s a beautiful thing.”
During the rally and subsequent march, numerous young people held up signs that read, “I am the pro-life generation.” Teenager Frances Fasanello from New Jersey truly believed it.
“We’re smart,” she said. “We know it’s wrong. And we believe the truth that abortion is wrong, and it hurts women and children.”
The House of Representatives had initially planned to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on the day of the march. The act would ban elective abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. However, House Republican leadership abruptly dropped the bill Wednesday night amid concerns from female GOP lawmakers.
It was just the latest move against the estimated 55 million abortions deaths already across the U.S.
One woman from Queens, marching with Conigliaro, fervently hoped Congress would reconsider and eventually pass the bill, a move that members of Congress already have said is likely.
“[We have] doctors and neuro-physicians and neuroscientists telling us that these infants can feel pain as early as eight weeks after conception, and many are saying that the pain could be even greater than what we feel, the pain that we feel. Children right now are being dismembered through abortion,” she said. “Meanwhile, we are not only allowing it, we’re promoting it, and our politicians are promoting it, and it’s just heartbreaking.”
Ashley Stehle, a high school student from St. Louis, agreed that Congress is not doing enough to protect the unborn.
“I think they should realize that babies have potential, and they’re not just potential babies,” she said.