An enthusiastic crowd gathered for the annual pro-life rally to show its support in protesting abortion despite the bitterly cold temperature on Friday and imminent snowstorm in the nations capital.
The 43rd annual March For Life is held on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country. Thousands of demonstrators brought their own handmade signs displaying why they choose to be pro-life.
20- year-old Rosalie Rwamakuba, from New York, told CNA that she wants “to march for those who can’t.”
“I’ve been wanting to come on the March for Life for a long time. I think it is a really important cause, because the value of life is nothing nowadays,” she said. “I think we should take a stand. All life, no matter how conceived, or how the child comes out, is valuable. We’re all unique. There’s never going to be anyone like you, there never was anyone like you.”
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund reflecting on 2016’s theme: “PRO-LIFE AND PRO-WOMAN GO HAND-IN-HAND” said,
“A woman’s capacity to have a child is an incredible beautiful and amazing thing. It’s something inherent to women,” she said, adding that it is degrading when women are treated as though their capacity to bear children is “a liability.”
“Abortion is not good for women – psychologically or physically … science and research strongly support this reality,” Mancini continued. “I don’t want any woman to every have to go through that.”
Teenage Benjamin Swanson one of the participants of the campaign said he wants to crusade against the lack of concern many young people have regarding abortions.
Recalling something that happened in high school with some girl in his class, she had missed classes for a few weeks, when she came back, she was asked why she had been gone for long,she just responded casually that she had gotten an abortion.
“It just shocked me how … it didn’t even phase people that she was gone having an abortion. It was almost just like she was getting her wisdom teeth or tonsils out,” he said
“The reason why I march is really because I don’t want abortion to become a norm … I don’t want to have any unborn child not have their story told. Everyone deserves a chance to live,” he added.
Benjamin noting the great importance of supporting pregnant women in difficulties recalled when his sister who got pregnant at her first semester of college was kicked out of the house by their strict aunt. “Had she not had a support system, she probably wouldn’t have chosen to keep her baby and I wouldn’t have my nephew.” Benjamin said.
Patrick Koehr, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, serves on the school’s March for Life Commission and was planning to lead a group of over 800 students – the largest yet, he said.
“But I’ve been in the march every year of my life – including when I was a fetus – so I couldn’t miss it,” Koehr told CNA. Instead he drove down to D.C. with a few friends to attend.
Prior to the march, a rally on the National Mall featured speeches by religious, cultural and political leaders.
A Cuban woman, Yohanka, raped on many occasions by her stepfather in Cuba, and forced to have an abortion first time she got pregnant, the pro-life march is personal. She said she took in again and gave birth to a son.
“He’s an amazing son. He’s my life. He’s actually the only son that I was able to conceive because I never got pregnant ever again,” she told CNA.
“He’s 25 years old (now). My husband adopted him as his own.”
Yohanka said that she had come to the march to be the voice of those who don’t have one; speak for the weak. In cases of rape and incest, people think its okay to abort? she said she hears a different thing; her son would be better off dead.
“Why should my son pay for the crime of somebody else? Why should he be killed just because someone decided to rape me? He is my child, he has nothing to do with what happened,” she said.
“I regret my first abortion and I will always regret it,” she continued. “I didn’t have much of a choice. I was a child, and I was dragged (into the abortion clinic) by someone who was in authority…It wasn’t my choice, but it was my son or my daughter. God knows.”
20-year-old member of the Legionaries of Christ, Brother Elias, expressing admiration for the solidarity protest with a clear goal to stop abortion said he was struck by the sheer numbers of people in the crowds, as well as their enthusiasm.
“It’s been amazing seeing how many people really believe that life is worth living,” he said. “Even though there may be difficulties, crosses, things that are hard, life is worth living because of love.”