On Friday, Jan. 27, an estimated tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered on the National Mall for the 44th annual March for Life, a peaceful protest of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The rally began at noon and featured speakers such as Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to President Donald Trump; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City; Abby Johnson, former director of Planned Parenthood; several Republican members of Congress and others. Vice President Mike Pence also gave a speech, marking the first time a current vice president has spoken at a March for Life event. Pence promised to work to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and “devote those resources to health care services for women across America.”
The protesters then marched up Constitution Avenue carrying signs with slogans such as “Babies’ Lives Matter” and “Thank Your Mom for Being Pro-Life.” They ended at the Supreme Court and Capitol building, where the organizers of the event encouraged marchers to visit their state representative or senator to advocate for the pro-life cause. They also listened to testimonials from women who have had abortions, part of Silent No More Awareness, a Christian campaign that “seeks to expose and heal the secrecy and silence surrounding the emotional and physical pain of abortion.”
Although the march occurs annually in January — around the time of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the timing of this year’s march is particularly significant due to the recent inauguration of President Donald Trump, an outspoken opponent of abortion. Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 23 reinstating the “Mexico City Policy,” stopping federal funding for abortion overseas.
The march also fell one week after the Women’s March. Although the two events were not in direct opposition to one another, many participants of the March for Life were frustrated by the rejection of pro-life women who wanted to attend the Women’s March. Anna Geer, a participant in the March for Life, told USA Today, “whether or not you agree with pro-life … you are still supporting women in some sense. You still want the best for women.”
Ellie Roth, president of Wheaton’s Christian Feminist Club, agreed, saying that the inclusion of abortion rights in feminism is “uniquely Western” and relatively new. “Many early feminists — our foremothers, if you will — were explicitly pro-life and sought to address what leads to abortion in the first place,” Roth said.
March for Life held several events across the country, including a march in Chicago on Jan.15. Freshman Sophia Leach participated, along with at least 12 other Wheaton students. “Christians are called to love and defend what God loves, which includes every life he creates — whether born or unborn,” Leach told The Record. “The march emphasized what the pro-life community affirms, which is the dignity of women, the gift of children and the importance of family.”
For freshman Edie Heipel, the march had a personal aspect. Heipel credited her grandmother as her inspiration for marching. “She went twice a month for practically her whole life to pray at abortion clinics,” she said. “She always did the march at our capitol even if it was freezing rain.” Her grandmother, who is now in her eighties, had a stroke a few weeks ago and called Heipel shortly afterward. “I just want you to know I can’t do the march anymore,” her grandmother told her, “but you can do it for me.”
Heipel also stressed the importance of caring for both the mother and her unborn child. “A lot of pro-lifers tend to just focus on the issue of the baby, which is obviously why we are pro-life, but they forget that the mother is involved … we as Christians need to step up and be there for both of them.”