In bitter cold temperatures, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists, including about 30,000 youth, assembled on the Mall in Washington D.C. Friday for the annual March for Life. This year, the march coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since the landmark ruling, an estimated 55 million babies have been aborted in America.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke at the rally.
“Can a nation long endure that does not respect the sanctity of life? Can a nation conceived in liberty carry its head high if it denies protection the youngest and most vulnerable of its citizens?” Sen. Paul asked. “I believe great nations and great civilizations spring from a people who have a moral compass. Our nation is adrift, adrift in a wilderness where right and wrong have become subservient to the hedonism of the moment.”
Sen. Santorum, at the rally with his wife and children, spoke about his young daughter, Bella, born with Trisomy-18, whom he and his wife were encouraged to abort.
“The response to this little girl and the struggles she was going through and who she was…was just amazing to us, and affirmed to us the goodness of the people in this country,” Santorum said. “One day, we will be here and triumph, because love and truth always triumph.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, also spoke at the rally, directly challenging President Obama:
Know this, the pro-life movement is comprised of noble, caring, smart, and selfless people. It is an extraordinarily powerful, non-violent, faith-filled human rights struggle that is growing in public support, intensity, commitment, and hope. And know this, Mr. President: The pro-life movement is not only on the side of compassion, justice, and inclusion; we are on the side of responsible science and of history.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston opened the march rally with a prayer and an announcement of Pope Benedict’s tweet from his account, @Pontifex, “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”
A Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life was held on Thursday night at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. During the Mass, attended by 13,000 people and hundreds of bishops, priests, and other clergy, Cardinal O’Malley said, “Abortion is not a necessary evil, it’s simply evil.”
O’Malley, the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, added, “Abortion, like slavery, is not just a religious issue, it is a human rights issue.”
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life commented on the progress of the pro-life movement in the states. “We got 33 pro-life governors. We got a lot of pro-life legislators,” he said. “We’re going to make great, great progress in the states.”
Pavone added that pro-life leaders are encouraged by the role science is playing in affirming the view that life begins at conception.
“The status of the unborn child is increasing,” he said. “Medical science acknowledges the child as our newest patient. Fetal therapy, fetal diagnosis, and surgery- no question- and laws are beginning on the state level to recognize the unborn as a real person, as a real victim.”