Thousands gathered on the National Mall for the March for Life rally Monday, an annual event protesting the legalization of abortion in the U.S.
Participants, including some GW students, rallied just days after the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortions in the U.S. The 37th-annual demonstration, held between 4th and 7th streets on the Mall, featured speeches from religious leaders and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
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 Innocents,” representing lives lost to abortions.
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 believes some in the anti-abortion community have “demonized” women who have abortions.
“We should be trying to help them, not judging them,” Walk said.
Walk said in order to reduce the number of abortions, companies should incentivize women to keep their unborn children by providing them paid maternity leave.
She added that her position comes from personal experience, after she witnessed two friends deal with abortions – one who underwent the procedure and one who miscarried beforehand.
“I saw their anxiety, they couldn’t sleep, and these were people who were pro-choice and became pro-life,” Walk said.
Participants on the National Mall, ranging from young children to senior citizens, expressed varying anti-abortion messages.
“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.
“Abortion is stupid,” said 13-year-old Cassie. This was Cassie’s third year attending the March for Life.
Just outside the Smithsonian Metro stop, a group of high school students from Fredericksburg, Va., were handing out free signs that read, “Face it… an abortion kills a person,” and others reading, “I am an abortion abolitionist,” to the crowds entering the National Mall. The signs were provided by the American Life League, a Catholic anti-abortion group.
Many brought homemade signs. One read, “Born after 1973? You survived DEATH v. Wade.”
Chris, a high school student from New Jersey, said he thinks there should be more marches across the nation, not just here in D.C. He went on to explain that his mother had an abortion a few years ago.
“I didn’t know what was happening at the time. I wish I could have gone back there and told her to stop and not to do it,” he said.
Few counterprotesters in support of a woman’s right to have an abortion were at the rally Monday. None of the abortion rights groups on campus, including Voices for Choices, or the College Democrats, held counterprotests to the March for Life.
Although many at the rally called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, Voices for Choices co-president and senior Kim Wollner said she couldn’t see the decision being overturned anytime soon.
“Whether you believe life begins at conception or not, there is very little ground to allow the government to prevent a woman from making a choice about her own body,” Wollner said.