Protesters filled parts of downtown D.C. Friday, brandishing signs that read ‘I regret my abortion’ or ‘It’s my body, it’s my decision’ as demonstrators came from across the country to protest or celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
On campus, multiple student and religious groups including Colonials for Life, Voices for Choices, Newman Catholic Center and the College Republicans organized events to support their respective causes and to participate in the larger demonstrations near the Supreme Court building and the National Mall.
Colonials for Life organized a breakfast as a gathering for students who wanted to walk to the “March for Life” protest together.
“It’s kind of like how athletes eat pasta the night before a game or match,” Colonials for Life Secretary Kelsey O’Brien said about the breakfast. “We have muffins before to build up some energy and get ready to go out.”
Sophomore Mary Ellen Dingley, a member of Colonials for Life, attended the march on Saturday.
“Abortion is an exploitation of women and I wanted to come out and march,” Dingley said.
At the march and at other protests around the city, young children, teenagers and students protested the legality of abortion by putting red duct tape with “LIFE” written on it across their mouths.
The Washington Post reported that 75,000 protesters descended on the city, with a handful of GW students going for their first time.
“This year over 25 of our students went to the Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center. For almost all of them, it is their first time going,” said Father Greg Shaffer, of GW’s Newman Catholic Center.
The Newman Center also held a mass prior to the events, Shaffer said.
“We are bringing students together who are responding to the call to be involved in this great day of life,” he said.
Shaffer encouraged supporters who could not make it to the District to participate in a Virtual March for Life online alongside fellow pro-lifers.
Before the march, legislators, pastor Luke Robinson and founder of the March for Life event Nellie Gray spoke to the demonstrators, celebrating the Republicans’ win in this week’s Massachusetts Senate race.
“Any people from Massachusetts here today?” asked Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, at a rally before the march. “I would like to thank Massachusetts. Thank you for helping us kill the anti-life bill.”
Some activists claimed victory because of Tuesday’s special Senate election in Massachusetts that gives the GOP enough votes to filibuster the Democratic health care reform bill in the Senate.
Voices for Choices offered a counterpoint to the weekend’s march. The student organization attended the National Organization for Women’s abortion rights rally at the Supreme Court – where, almost four decades ago, the court made the landmark decision that woman may abort a pregnancy up until the “point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable.’ “
At the Supreme Court, abortion rights groups and students walked in a circle around anti-abortion activists and students from Archbishop Ryan High School while chanting, “My body, my choice,” “2, 4, 6, 8. Separate church and state!” and “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”
Voices for Choices did not aid NOW in organizing the rally, Voices for Choices Executive Director Kim Wollner said, but the students still worked to increase awareness about a women’s right to choose.
“Voices for Choices is a great organization. It is not advocating for abortion, it is about a woman’s right to choose. Women should be able to do what they want with their own bodies and the underlying principle of freedom in general,” Wollner said.