30 minutes at the March for Life

MarchforLife

One of the benefits of living in Washington, D.C. is that you can run down to the National Mall and check out protests on your lunch break. That’s what I did today when I caught 30 minutes of the rally at March for Life.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, and this year, like every year, hundreds of thousands of people who oppose abortion gathered on the National Mall with prayers and placards. The temperature was about 20 degrees, and snow would begin to fall before the day was through.

It was a strange crowd, in some ways: nondenominational youth groups marching next to Catholic nuns, shivering blue-lipped Texans cheering with Iowans who arrived by the busload, and even some secular and feminist groups on the edges of the Mall. It was largely white and overwhelmingly young. Teenagers and college students carried signs reading “I am the Pro-Life Generation.” (Despite their passion for the issue, the Pew Research Center says that 57 percent of that American generation — 18 to 29 year olds — do not even know that the Roe v. Wade decision related to abortion.)

Speakers at the rally included Rick Santorum, who prompted loud cheers and spoke about raising a child with a disability, and another activist who said he was conceived when his mother was raped.

What surprised me most was that despite the heavy subject matter and the anger expressed by some of the marchers — I did see one “… or perish in hell” sign — the overall mood was upbeat. The protesters on the Mall seemed confident in their eventual success, citing Bible verses, moral arguments, scientific evidence and statistics about pro-life involvement among Millennials.

Of course, the nation is still bitterly divided over abortion, something never more evident than today as other people held “Keep Abortion Legal” signs outside the Supreme Court, where the March for Life would end up. But I couldn’t stay to watch any of those interactions at the Supreme Court — I had to begin walking against the flow of the crowd to hurry back from lunch.

Coverage elsewhere:

USA TODAY’s Natalie DiBlasio did some good reporting on the March for Life, including lots of personal stories from attendees.

Look through the Pew Research Center‘s latest survey results about abortion. 63 percent of Americans support the decision, while 29 percent would like to see it completely overturned.

Vanity Fair published a profile of Roe v. Wade‘s Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey), who became an unlikely — and, as journalist Joshua Prager tells it, sometimes manipulative — pro-life activist.

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