~`+`~2014 MARCH FOR `PRO LIFE` IN WASHINGTON DC`+`~
March for Life draws thousands to snowy D.C.
Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY 7:18 p.m. EST January 22, 2014
The march marked the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the 'Roe v. Wade' case that affirmed a woman's right to an abortion.
(Photo: Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY)
It was the 40th annual march on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion
Marcher Mary Baxter: "We're here today in peaceful protest, just like Martin Luther King."
NARAL Pro-Choice America celebrated the case that it says "enshrined ... a woman's freedom"
WASHINGTON The March for Life rolled through the nation's snow-covered, bitterly cold capital Wednesday with thousands of hardy souls chanting, walking and listening to speakers press their case against abortion rights.
"We may be freezing, but we are freezing for the best cause in the world," Patrick Kelly, chairman of the march, said to loud applause on the National Mall.
Protesters chanted as they marched: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, abortion has got to go," and "We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?!"
It was the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case that affirmed a woman's right to an abortion.
For the ruling's supporters, Wednesday was a day for celebration.
Ilyse Hogue, head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said her organization was commemorating "the anniversary of the decision that enshrined into law a woman's freedom to decide when, how and with whom to have a family."
The fight to limit abortion has shifted largely to state legislatures. Since 2011, there have been more than 200 abortion restrictions -- mandatory counseling, waiting periods, clinic regulations and more -- enacted in 30 states, compared with 212 between 2001 and 2010, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank that advocates abortion rights.
Some were subsequently invalidated by courts. On Friday, a federal judge struck down a North Carolina law requiring women who want an abortion to have an ultrasound and then have a medical provider describe the image.
The atmosphere Wednesday on the National Mall was upbeat even as signs whipped in the brutal wind: "Babies are precious," "#teamlife" and "I am the pro-life generation."
Mary Baxter, 46, came from Grand Rapids, Mich., with her daughters, Sarah, 18, and Ashleigh, 14.
"We're here today in peaceful protest, just like Martin Luther King," Baxter said. "Life is the first gift we are all given. No one has the right to take that away."
Sarah said she leads a group that stands outside abortion clinics to protest. Sometimes, that means starting at 5 a.m. before she has to go to school.
"We just stand on the sidewalk and pray," Sarah said. "Sometimes people honk in support, but sometimes people even throw cans at us."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, thanked the crowd for giving a "voice" to the cause.
"You, the marchers, the advocates, who don't mind enduring the worst weather Washington could throw at you for the opportunity to change one heart and one mind you are our movement's not-so-secret weapon," Cantor told the crowd.
"We come here every year and freeze our buns off," said Steve Antosh, 57, of Fairfax, Va., holding an "Overturn Roe v. Wade" sign. "There is not just a moral problem, there is a political problem."
Matt Woodley, 54, of Wheaton, Ill., was at his first march.
"I am astounded by the number of young people here," he said. "It's absolutely unbelievable."
Also from Wheaton, Diana Soerens, 30, brought her 7-month-old daughter, Zipporah. She said she was glad that this year's theme was adoption. "Sanctity of life is close to my heart and I really love the theme," she said.
It was the 40th year for the march to the Supreme Court, and 2014 brought social media changes. This year there was a March For Life app and a Facebook "virtual march" where people who couldn't make it to the event could show support by posting a past March for Life photo as their cover photo.
Pope Francis was among those tweeting his support for the marchers: "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."
Former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was among politicians chiming in on Twitter: "My heart is with @March_for_Life today as they speak for the 56 million unborn babies denied their chance at life. #WhyWeMarch."
The weather jammed up many people planning to fly to Washington and stopped some D.C.-bound tour buses.
Veronika Johannsen, 22, of College Station, Texas, beat the weather and arrived safely for her second time at the march. "The face is changing. It's not just white male politicians like the pro-choice people like to say," Johannsen said. "All kinds of people come. Religious groups of all different denominations, former abortion workers, women who have been raped or have been conceived in rape."
Anti-Abortion Activists 'March for Life' in Washington
Snow and freezing temperatures didn't stop anti-abortion activists
from walking in the 41st annual March for Life
"Source" US NEWS REPORT EXCERPT:
By Shannon Firth
January 22, 2014
Students from St. Brendan's Parish in the Bronx, N.Y., attend the March for Life with chaperones Yvette Colon and Judith Cordero.
A clump of teenagers carrying signs huddled Wednesday afternoon on a patch of snow-covered grass across from a stage on the National Mall.
The Rev. George Stewart from St. Brendan's Parish in the Bronx, a slim man with a gray beard, stood just in front of the teens. The snowy weather doubled the travel time, and of the 52 students that had originally registered for the trip, only 27 came.
[READ: Abortion Advocates Fight On, 41 Years After Roe V. Wade]
But Stewart felt the long journey from New York was worth it. He says events like this the March for Life in Washington, D.C. encourage and embolden young people.
"I think a day like today gives people permission to be pro-life," he says.
The March for Life takes place every January to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Despite snow on the sidewalks and below-freezing temperatures, thousands from across the country joined Wednesday's 41st annual event, which included a rally on the mall followed by a trek to the Supreme Court.
On the mall, Christian singer Matt Maher warmed up the crowd before March for Life Education and Defense Fund President Jeanne Monahan and Chairman Patrick Kelly took the stage. Monahan excitedly read a tweet sent that morning by Pope Francis.
"I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers," the pope said. "May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."
Monahan told the crowd she is tired of hearing about a "war on women," calling abortion a "war on mothers" and saying the procedure is "anti-woman, anti-family, anti-man it's obviously anti-baby."
She also launched into a theme of this year's march: adoption.
"For every one baby that's adopted in this country, 64 are aborted," she said.
The usual political chatter also swirled around the march, with the anti-abortion movement having made strong progress at the state level in the last few years.
[ALSO: Young Americans Don't Know What Roe V. Wade Is, Poll Shows]
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also addressed the marchers.
"I'm ... proud to announce that this week the House will vote once and for all to end taxpayer funding for abortion," he said, followed by the crowd shouting its approval.
Along with the parents who brought their children to the march, there were hundreds of teenagers, with some wearing stickers that said, "I'm worth waiting for." Some carried signs that read "#TEAMLIFE" on one side and "I Am the Pro-Life Generation" on the other.
In a phone call after the march, Monahan told U.S. News that while the march is a grass-roots event, she has tried to improve outreach strategies by using social media. March for Life has built Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and Monahan is planning a webinar for later in the year.
She says she also tries to adopt an open stance
"A number of my friends, some very close friends, do not see eye-to-eye with me on this issue. And sometimes that's very painful, since it's a very important part of my life, especially professionally, but I learn so much from them," she says. "And they learn from me."
"I'm not trying to say that 'life isn't life isn't life' it absolutely is," she adds later. "But gosh, we have to dialogue about these issues."
[DEBATE CLUB: Should Abortion Be Illegal?]
At the end of the march, 11-year-old Trinity Merrill was bundled up in a zebra-striped jacket, blue pants, a hat and a scarf. She walked from the Capitol building to Union Station with a plastic bag wrapped around her right boot, because she said the snow had leaked into it.
Trinity's bangs hung in her eyes. Her family drove all day and night from Willow Springs, Mo., to make it to the march Trinity's first.
She came to help stop abortion "because it's basically murder," she says. "If someone had aborted you, you wouldn't even be here."