Jubilant crowd gathers in Washington for annual March for Life

Pro-life advocates make their way toward the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 27 during the annual MarchfFor Life in Washington. (CNS photo | Leslie E. Kossoff)

By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Tens of thousands of pro-lifers filled the grounds near the Washington Monument and marched up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 27 as both a protest of legalized abortion and a celebration of successful pro-life efforts across the country.

Watch: Pilgrims from the Diocese of Syracuse march for life

In years past, the March for Life — which takes place on or near Jan. 22 to mark the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that legalized abortion virtually on demand — has been almost a battle cry for the uphill and constant fight faced by those in the pro-life movement hoping for more abortion restrictions and ultimately an end to abortion.

This year’s March for Life, under mostly sunny skies and 40-degree temperatures, was decidedly more upbeat, in part because one of the first speakers was Vice President Mike Pence: the first time a vice president attended the rally.

Pence, who has marched at the event before as a participant and addressed it as a congressman, repeatedly told the crowd — huddled together in winter coats and hats in front of the stage — that “life is winning” and assured them the Trump administration was behind them.

Kellyanne Conway, special adviser to Trump, and the first on the speakers’ list to address the group — holding aloft placards but none of the usual giant banners, which were banned for security reasons — similarly got plenty of cheers when she said: “This is a new day, a new dawn for life.”

The scheduled presence of the vice president, only announced the day before, required the rally perimeter to be fenced in and the crowd to enter through long lines that had formed at security checks. Participants seemed unfazed by the required wait, taking it in stride with the day. Some pulled out their pre-packed lunches and started eating, others prayed the rosary. These marchers are used to plenty of hardships from weather conditions alone at the annual march.

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