WASHINGTON—Four days after the presidential inauguration, tens of thousands of people returned to the National Mall for another kind of rally. This time it was for life.
Scores of pro-life supporters Friday braved freezing temperatures and a steady wet snow in the nation’s capital to speak for the voiceless at the annual March for Life.
This year’s event carried special significance coming on the week that the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion turned 40 years old.
Speakers at the main stage called for the Supreme Court justices to overturn that decision, and they pleaded with lawmakers to take significant pro-life actions such as cutting off the federal funds now supporting top abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., called the Supreme Court ruling a “reckless and inhumane” abandonment of women and babies.
“Since 1973, more than 55 million children have been killed by abortion, a staggering loss of children’s precious lives, a death toll that equates to the entire population of England,” Smith said. “The passage of time hasn’t changed the fact that abortion is a serious, lethal violation of fundamental human rights.”
While politicians and policy makers took over the stage, the people took over the street. The day belonged to the throngs who marched from the National Mall up Constitution Avenue past the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court.
They came from states like Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Ohio.
Dozens of women held aloft signs reading, “I do regret my abortion,” while hundreds of teenagers waved posters printed with the words: “I am the pro-life generation.”
Some carried homemade wooden crosses while others cradled babies. They chanted, beat drums, blew horns, and shouted Scripture verses as they trekked through the snowy street.
While media reports may call the event a protest over abortion, the gathering was also a celebration of life, one that included masses of young people from high schools and colleges across the nation.
Olivia Karas attended her ninth March for Life despite being just 20 years old. The college junior boarded one of five buses filled with 275 students from Chicago. They came to the March for Life wearing matching bright yellow sweatshirts with the letters “L” and “I” on one side and “F” and “E” on the other.
“We want to be a loud voice for those who don’t have a voice,” said Karas, who has become more vocal about her pro-life stance since seeing several friends at her college struggle with what to do with an unintended pregnancy.
She said the amount of young people at the March is a sign that the rally will remain strong: “We will keep this thing going until hopefully one day abortion will be illegal in this country and there will be no need for this. Every year I hope I don’t have to come back.”
As the crowd poured around her and neared the Supreme Court, Mary Kominsky, 57, stood still in the middle of the street holding a sign that said she regretted her abortion. As a 17-year-old in 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade, Kominsky aborted a child.
“My baby would have turned 40 today,” said the Westfield, N.J., resident.
She buried her feelings inside until 23 years ago when she gave birth to another child.
“The memories came back,” she said as marchers passing by gave her hugs or pats on the back. “My womb was once a place of death, and now it was a place for new life. It shook me to my core.”
A ministry back home has helped her heal.
“God forgives everything,” she said. “But there are consequences.”
Standing nearby, Millie Lace of Wynne, Ark., recounted the abortion she had in 1979 when she was 25 years old. She thought she was getting rid of tissue. But in the recovery room after the abortion another patient turned to Lace and asked, “Was yours a boy or a girl?”
Lace gasped at the question and spent the next 12 years struggling over her decision. The bold testimony of another woman inspired her to start her own ministry hotline for struggling women called Concepts of Truth.
“Shame is the ultimate silencer,” Lace said. “As long as the enemy keeps you in shame, your baby will have no voice.”
Scattered throughout the crowd, a few men carried signs that reminded the gathering that men suffer from abortions as well.
Bill, who did not want to give his last name because some of his family members do not know his story, said he lost a child to abortion nearly 30 years ago.
“I did not stand up for the soul that didn’t get to see the light of day,” he said. “I have to trust he is in the care of Jesus.”