This post was written by Hatchet reporter Elise Apelian
Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall Monday for the March for Life Rally, an annual event protesting the legalization of abortion in the U.S. due to the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Participants – including some GW students – rallied just days after the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973 court decision. The 37th-annual demonstration, held between 4th and 7th streets on the Mall, featured speeches from religious leaders and members of Congress from both parties. GW organizations Colonials for Life, the Young America’s Foundation, and the College Republicans were also in attendance.
Earlier in the morning, YAF placed white crosses in University Yard for its annual “Cemetery of the Innocents,” representing lives lost to abortions.
Before the rally, some students made posters in the Marvin Center to take with them to the protest.
Michele Walk, president of the anti-abortion group Colonials for Life, explained that she “wasn’t your run-of-the-mill pro-lifer.”
Walk said the debate over abortion “isn’t about religion, it’s a situation that affects thousands of women every day,” and that she thought some in the “pro-life” community have “demonized” women who have had abortions.
“We should be trying to help them, not judging them,” Walk said.
Walk said that in order to reduce the number of abortions, companies should incentivize women to keep their unborn children by providing them paid maternity leave.
Walk added that her position on the issue comes from personal experience, after she witnessed two friends deal with the issue of abortion – one who underwent the procedure and one who miscarried before she had the procedure.
“I saw their anxiety, they couldn’t sleep and these were people who were pro-choice and became pro-life,” Walk said.
Few counter-protesters in support of a woman’s right to have an abortion were seen at the rally Monday. Participants on the National Mall, ranging from young children to senior citizens, mainly expressed a “pro-life” message.
“We are here to be the voices of those who don’t have a voice, the voices of the children who are aborted,” sophomore Jimmy Owens of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said. Owens was one of about 20 people representing the UNL Newman Catholic Student Center at the rally.
Owens also said he opposes contraceptives because “it goes against the sacredness of marriage – it would be like me telling my wife that she is unhealthy because she is fertile, but fertility is not a medical condition.”
Students from the Aquinas Academy in Pittsburgh, Pa., a Catholic kindergarten to 12th grade private school, even had the day off in honor of the March for Life.
“Every year they give the kids the day off and someone donates the buses so they can come down to D.C. and participate in the rally,” Doug Stewart, a first-time participant in the rally and father of an Aquinas Academy student, said.