Advancing on the Pro-Life Front: Pro-Life Marches on the 33rd Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Underscore the Momentum Shift That Has Taken Place against Abortion

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Hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates turned out for marches and rallies throughout the country to mark the 33rd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that struck down virtually all state restrictions on abortion. More than 100,000 pro-life demonstrators converged on Washington, D.C., on Monday, January 23, for the annual March for Life. Two days earlier, on Saturday, January 21, the second annual West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco drew more than 15,000 supporters, doubling attendance from the previous year. Tens of thousands more turned out for similar right-to-life events in state capitals and major cities from coast to coast, demanding an end to the holocaust that has taken the lives of more than 47 million unborn babies since the 1973 ruling.

In the nation's capital, the March for Life began at the National Mall and ended at the Supreme Court building, highlighting the current battle in the U.S. Senate over the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The theme of the 33rd annual March for Life was: "Roe v. Wade Violates the American Way." And pro-life leaders let it be known that reversing the Roe decision remains a primary goal.

"The State or a person," said Nellie Gray, president and original organizer of the March for Life, "can never justify the intentional killing of an innocent born or pre-born human in existence at fertilization. No Exception! No Compromise! We are calling for Americans to unify on goals and strategies to overturn Roe v. Wade, and replace it with the life principles." "We expect every Supreme Court justice to overturn Roe versus Wade. We expect them to do the right thing," Gray told marchers in Washington, D.C.

President Bush--who was in Manhattan, Kansas, for a speech--lent his support to the March for Life rally, saying, "You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient." He added, "These principles call us to defend ... all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children."

The youthfulness of the pro-life movement was evident at Roe v. Wade anniversary rallies across the country, but was especially pronounced at the national March for Life, where tens of thousands of high school and college students came by bus, train, car, and plane to stand up for life and oppose the culture of death. A Youth Mass celebrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at Washington, D.C.'s MCI Center before the march was filled to capacity with 22,000 young people. Another 2,000 were reportedly turned away because the facility was already overcrowded.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), like others addressing the March for Life, noted the overwhelming prevalence of youth in the crowd and urged the young people to increase their efforts against abortion. "As I look out at the tens of thousands of young people at this march, a source of inspiration and hope, I can't help but to offer an invitation, a challenge, a plea, for you to absolutely redouble your prayers, fasting and work on behalf of those at risk, both mothers and babies," Smith said. The congressman quoted Matthew 25, referring to Jesus' admonition about "Whatsoever you do to the least of these you do unto me."

Remembering Terri

Euthanasia took center stage alongside abortion this year, pushed to the fore by the court-ordered dehydration killing of Terri Schindler Schiavo. Terri Schiavo's brother Bobby Schindler addressed the national March for Life, pledging that the foundation the family established in her name would bring the fight against euthanasia to public prominence.

"We lost Terri, but this does not mean God did not hear your prayers," said Schindler. "Your prayers sustained our family, and we are here today to tell you that we are going forward to fight against care rationing, euthanasia, and medical killing. …