WASHINGTON-Thousands poured onto the National Mall Thursday, trampling the detritus from a presidential inauguration 48 hours previous and carrying signs that read "Yes We Can Terminate Abortions." The occasion was the annual March for Life, held on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.
Speakers at the march called on the President Barack Obama to defend "all Americans," including the preborn.
"For the last eight years we pro-lifers have had it easy," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. "That's all changed."
President Obama had planned to repeal the "Mexico City policy" Thursday, which prevents federal funding of abortions overseas, but some reports indicate he will delay signing that order.
Anyone over 30 years old was in the minority at the march, and Catholic schools showed a strong presence. Some turned out because they are concerned about having a pro-choice president, others said the fight would continue no matter who was in office.
"Young people, you are the inheritors of the great American tradition of seeking justice," said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.
March attendee Claire Scanlon, 14, said a lot of young people turned out because "teenagers are a big part. They get pregnant and they can't handle being parents . . . so they have abortions."
"They don't know where to turn," added her cousin Theresa Antunes, 13.
Minorities joined in, too. St. Joseph's is a Yonkers, N.Y., Catholic church that used to be a mainly white congregation. But as jobs in the neighborhood disappeared, poverty grew, and now the church, pastored by Rev. George J. Kuhn, is majority Hispanic. Their signs read, "Thou shalt not kill. . . . No mataras!"
"Vamanos," said Kuhn to his congregation, as they took off for a rally before the march.
Progressive pro-life groups like RealAbortionSolutions.org, which advocates looking for ways to reduce abortions through adoption and support for single mothers, were not to be found, but they did run print ads in D.C. papers about alternative solutions to abortion. The array of youth that turned out don't want to see that kind of "compromise" in the fight against abortion-they just want Roe v. Wade overturned.
As marchers walked around to the back of the Capitol, they clashed with a few pro-abortion demonstrators on the steps of the Supreme Court. Some argued with them, some stood beside them and prayed.
Marcia Lane-McGee, one of the few Obama supporters in the March for Life crowd, had a baby six years ago and placed him in an open adoption-so now she sees her son growing up in a healthy family. When she was pregnant and contemplating an abortion, she said one of her friends dragged her to a pro-life counselor who "showed me a basket of plastic babies and told me what a bad person I was."
Lane-McGee wasn't convinced by the accusatory tone, but instead by a conversation with another woman who told her about the life she had inside her.
"As Christians, we think of Jesus meeting us where we are," she said. "We need to meet pro-choice people where they are."
And Lane-McGee thinks pro-lifers need to focus more on providing support for children after they're born, through better health care and helping moms get off welfare.
"It's about dignity in life," she said. "There's no dignity in getting handouts your whole life."