On January 22, 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its infamous Roe v. Wade decision that effectively granted women the right to “terminate” a pregnancy, thus condemning, at last count, over 50 million pre-born babies to death. One year later, on January 22, 1974, pioneering pro-life leader Nellie Gray launched the first March for Life rally that brought 20,000 pro-life activists together on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to pray, protest, and plan for the overturning of the horrific High Court mandate.
On January 25, 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision, and four days after the inauguration of the nation's most pro-abortion president, this year's observance will convene in communities across the nation as hundreds of thousands of Americans repent for the national sin of abortion and pray for its cessation.
The keynote event, of course, will be the Washington, D.C., March for Life, where rally organizers expect a record crowd that may even eclipse the numbers attending Obama's inauguration. While the president's 2009 inauguration drew some 1.8 million attendees, that number is expected to dip to 600,000 this year. By contrast, there are signs that the numbers for this years Walk for Life rally will far outreach the 400,000 that attended in 2011.
Organizers told the Washington Examiner that one indication that the crowd will dwarf's Obama's event is the number of rooms booked for the pro-life rally. Hotels pre-booked for the March for Life participants “sold out a month ago,” reported the Examiner, “while many Washington hotels report lukewarm interest for rooms during the Inauguration. In 2009, hotels sold out months in advance as an excited nation readied to welcome the first black president.”
Jeanne Monahan, who took over as the director of the March for Life effort after founder Gray's death last year at 88, told the Washington Post that there is an emphasis on reaching a new generation of Americans, many of whom who are more pro-life in their attitudes than their parents. “We’re winning with young people and we’re winning with the American public,” Monahan told the Post, noting that a recent Gallup poll shows a record-low 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “pro-choice.” Monahan also pointed to victories at the state level, noting that “more pro-life legislation has passed in the states than ever in the history of our country.”
Monahan said that unlike the hours-long rallies of past years, which sometimes included up to 50 speakers, this year's D.C. event will be much more youth-focused, with the actual rally cut down to about an hour, spotlighting a handful of speakers “who are actually steeped in the issue,” and with speeches that “tap into all the cutting-edge pro-life issues”. She added that the goal is to “do a good job of commemorating the unique 55 million lives that we’ve lost in the last four decades, but at the same time, capturing the enthusiasm of the march and young people.”
The rally on the National Mall, which will run from 12 noon until 1:30 p.m., will be followed immediately by the annual march, which will take the pro-life crowd up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building for a short prayer service.
Meanwhile, on January 26, thousands of miles across the United States in San Francisco, tens of thousands of pro-life activists will participate in the ninth annual West Coast Walk for Life, which drew some 40,000 walkers last year.
Nearly a week earlier, on January 19, one of the largest pro-life events outside Washington, D.C. was scheduled in Dallas, where Catholic Bishop Kevin Farrell was to lead a special mass and rally for the unborn commemorating the infamous 40th anniversary of legalized abortion. “The theme of the 2013 Roe memorial events is Exodus 20:13,” Farrell explained of the event. “The Book of Exodus reminds us of the 40-year journey of God’s people through the desert to the Promised Land, and the verse Exodus 20:13 states none other than God’s Fifth Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ — a most fitting reminder from almighty God in the year 2013, the 40th year of the legalized killing of the unborn, that life is sacred and must be protected and that the killing must end.”
Farrell said that as in past years, the Dallas event would bring together thousands of individuals “to witness to the city of Dallas our unwavering devotion to continue these efforts, to leave behind us the desert of abortion, usher in its ‘exodus’ from our community and embrace the promise of life!”
January 19 also witnessed a large gathering in San Diego to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The Rev. Jim Garlow, a San Diego area pastor and a scheduled speaker for the San Diego pro-life event, predicted that history “will be hard on pro-abortionists, just as it is hard on those who were pro-slavery. Why? Because they were morally wrong.” Challenging Christians to step forward to be champions for the unborn, Garlow said that just as there are “tours in Germany of the concentration camps, of the killing centers, someday there will be tours of the abortuaries in America, the present day killing centers. And tourists will ask, 'where was the church? Why were people silent?' I do not want them to be referring to me. I will not be silent.”
As hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates gather in state capitals and communities across the nation to pray for an end to abortion, the Illinois-based Pro-Life Action League will be sponsoring a January 22 nationwide prayer service to remember the over 55 million pre-born victims of abortion. Eric Scheidler, executive director of the pro-life group, explained that the “Blessed Are They Who Mourn” prayer vigil will take place on Roe anniversary at hundreds of memorial sites across the nation, including dozens of locations where tiny victims of abortion have been buried. Individuals are encouraged to visit one of the sites on the anniversary, “and offer prayers of mourning for all the unborn babies who have been killed by abortionists since 1973,” said Scheidler.
Scheidler noted that over the past several weeks the nation has rightly been mourning the tragic deaths of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. “Now we're calling on our nation to reflect on the profound loss of all the millions of children aborted since 1973, and mourn for them, too,” he said — “children whose names and faces will never be on the evening news, but whose lives were just as precious.”
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