Despite the frigid temperatures on Friday, an estimated 150,000 people participated in the 49th annual March for Life, held in Washington, D.C to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in all 50 states.
Watch the FULL timelapse of the '22 #MarchforLife! We estimate ~150,000 people. The cold couldn't dampen the spirits of the Pro-Life Generation who knew we were celebrating the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The largest human rights march in the world IS against abortion. pic.twitter.com/ovVfXCxZpK— Students for Life of America (@StudentsforLife) January 21, 2022
This year's theme was "Equality Begins in the Womb," with a special focus on the danger of being aborted that babies face when diagnosed in utero with disabilities, such as Down Syndrome. Other times, babies are aborted because they're perceived to be the wrong sex or race. One of the speakers included Katie Shaw, a Down Syndrome Advocate.
Churches, student groups, and pro-life groups traveled from all over the country to stand up for not just unborn children, but their mothers. Live Action, for instance, had signs reading "Love Them Both." While there was a heavy faith presence, including church groups, the Knights of Columbus, and a worship concert, there was also a secular presence, with groups like Secular Pro-Life and Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU).
For many pro-lifers, the March for Life is something of a tradition. However, this year could be different. The Court last month heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson, a case examining the constitutionality of Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, which bans most abortions at 15 weeks. The decision is expected in June. Both sides of the issue have acknowledged that this could be the case where the Court overturns Roe. If so, 2022 could be the last March for Life, at least the one held in January.
Townhall spoke with a wide range of pro-life experts as to if that could be the case.
In her remarks, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini mentioned "we are hoping and praying that this year, 2022, will bring a historic change for life."
Penny Nance, and the group that she is CEO of, Concerned Women for America (CWA), pointed out that, with a favorable outcome in Dobbs, "the truth is that Roe v. Wade will be over, and that there will be no reason to stand out here in the freezing cold," although she did assure that "we've done it every year and we will continue to joyfully advocate for life. But we hope that we will never stand here on a cold January day again."
She mentioned state marches, acknowledging "we've got a lot of work to do around the country and we're happy to take on that battle at Concerned Women for America," as Nance went on confirm "we'll either be here on a state-by-state basis, or we'll be standing here in our nation's capitol in the summer, maybe the end of June."
There's also a heavy faith component. Nance shared her organization has prayer guides and women praying for each justice. CWA an amicus brief in Dobbs and also brought 2,000 women to the Dobbs rally outside the Supreme Court on December 1.
Mallory Carroll, the vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony List emphasized that activism from these 49 years of what brought pro-lifers to this year's March, stressing "today is amazing, because as we march up to the steps of the Supreme Court, we know that the justices are inside, right now, considering a case, that could finally take the handcuffs off the states and allow Americans to pass laws that reflect their values."
Despite the pro-abortion administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Carroll spoke about the lasting effects of former President Donald Trump having confirmed three justices to the bench. "Think about, you know, the effort in elections to get a pro-life president and a pro-life Senate in place, such that we could confirm justices that are inside the Court right now debating this decision, and the work of the state lawmakers who have been passing all sorts of pro-life laws," including the Mississippi abortion ban.
"I don't know what the future of the March will be," Carroll also shared, "but our efforts will have to continue post-Dobbs," with the issue becoming a "51 front battle in all states and at the federal level, as "it's always going to be important," Carroll thinks, "to have this presence to show America we're pro-life. We've accomplished so much, but really it's just the beginning."
Lila Rose, who is the president and founder of Live Action shared a statement with Townhall that traced the path of how far the movement has come.
"For almost 50 years advocates in defense of our basic human right to be born and live have marched to the Supreme Court to make it clear that the continued intentional killing of our youngest citizens is unconscionable and must stop. After last year’s virtual event, hundreds of thousands of us are thrilled to be back in Washington, DC for the 2022 March for Life," she said. "Live Action and our advocates will be out in full force, sharing our message of love and support for both preborn children and their strong, courageous mothers. We will also share signs that show the undeniable humanity of the child in the womb, images which everyone needs to see, including our Supreme Court justices as they deliberate the fate of Dobbs v. Jackson which should end the injustice of Roe v. Wade once and for all."
Denise Harle, the director of Alliance Defending Freedom's Center for Life, also spoke with Townhall, about how the March for Life would matter at the state level. Another idea she offered, as others had, was to have a march in the summer months.
"The March for Life has always been a positive movement about the sanctity of human life and protecting the unborn. Even in the absence of Roe v. Wade, like let's say it was overturned, this matter would just go back to the states, so it would be a state-by-state decision about enacting policies that recognize that life is a human right," she shared.
"And so we would still have a battle to protect life, it would just move to a different battlefront. And at the same time we would have a lot to celebrate and march for. It would be a big party every year and we could move it to, let's say, the date the Dobbs decision comes out, versus the day Roe came out. So, I expect we'll continue to have these younger generations moving in the right direction and taking a stand to say every life should be protected and we're not going to stop saying that until it happens."
Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America and Students for Life Action echoed "I absolutely hope" it's the last March taking place in January, and that subsequent ones will take place in the summer, "commemorating the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and the battle that ensues in all 50 state capitols. Certainly our cause to march will not end when Roe is reversed, but maybe our cause to have to get together in blistering January will, she said with a laugh.
SFLA, which is known for its "We Are the Pro-Life Generation" signs and chants, went with an additional take this year. SFLA team members also had a massive banner reading "We Are the Post-Roe Generation," a chant they enthusiastically repeated outside the Court.
Many of members of Congress also appeared on the stage during the speaker lineup before the March began. On the jumbo tron also flashed a montage of messages of support from various members in Congress who could not be there. Reps. Julia Letlow (R-LA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) spoke, with both also referring to the upcoming Dobbs decision.
We are at a historic time in the pro-life movement and I was honored to join the March for Life today to talk about how my colleagues and I are fighting in Congress for the unborn. pic.twitter.com/Fdlby80Wyf— Congresswoman Julia Letlow (@RepJuliaLetlow) January 21, 2022
Although he was not present in person, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) spoke in support of the March for Life from the Senate floor earlier this week. He founded the Senate's Pro-Life Caucus in 2019. "I pray this year’s March for Life marks the final anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and heralds the dawn of a new day where every life is protected," he said at one point in his remarks.
Former Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) who was one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress until he was defeated by pro-abortion Marie Newman in a 2020 primary, also spoke.
Should this indeed be the last March for Life to take place in January, and a new anniversary is in place, pro-life activists shared a common message of continuing to push for pro-life legislation, especially at the state level, where there has been record success in laws passed. If and when Roe is overturned, abortion legislation will be returned to the states. Pro-life activists are also well-aware that the work will have just begun when it comes to assisting pregnant women and their children.
Despite there has been hundreds of thousands of participants at the March for Life, networks and the mainstream media tend to provide scant coverage. Twitter allowed #MarchForLife to trend intermittently throughout the day, at about the 12th, 13th, or 14th places, by the time of publication.