Updated: Jan. 24, 2021 at 1:23 p.m.
Tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in D.C. Friday for the annual March for Life, pressuring federal officials as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could overturn a decades-old precedent that established abortion rights nationwide.
Protesters marched down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court calling for the court to reverse the Roe v. Wade ruling, which marked its 49th anniversary this weekend, chanting “Roe v. Wade has got to go” and carrying signs reading “the future is anti-abortion.” The court is deliberating a case over a Mississippi abortion restriction law through which it could reverse its previous rulings, with more states moving to limit abortion access across the country.
Many of the demonstrators, which included student groups like GW College Republicans and Students for Life, said religious values and previous abortion experience pushed them to join the protest.
Patriot Front, a white supremacist organization whose participation was condemned by GWCRs and other groups, had also joined in the march before being escorted away from the crowds.
Naomi Whittaker, a gynecologist who traveled from Harrisburg, Pa. with her family to attend the demonstration, said she provides medical care to mothers and unborn children during pregnancies and trauma relief to patients with past abortions – professional experience that has shaped her pro-life ideology.
“I take care of both the unborn and the mother at once, and so I have the responsibility to protect both lives,” Whittaker said. “And there’s a way to do both and honor and love both through top-quality medical care, so me, my job as a physician is to keep both hearts beating.”
Whittaker said many of the women she treats face “pain and suffering” after abortion.
“I do help mourning women who have regret after taking the first Mifepristone pill, the antiprogesterone pill,” she said. “So I get a lot of women who have pain and suffering after abortion.”
Donald Kloster, a priest who traveled from Connecticut, said he has attended the March for Life for more than 20 years in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade because he wants the law to “defend every human being.” He said theology guides his perspective on abortion, and every religious person believes “life is precious,” which has inspired him to attend the march annually.
“It’s always first life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Kloster said. “If you don’t have the defense of life – liberty and the pursuit of happiness don’t matter.”
Sherri, a demonstrator from Pennsylvania who had previously gotten an abortion, said she felt “terrible regret” after her abortion and wants to ensure that others don’t face the same struggles. She declined to share her last name, citing privacy concerns over her past abortion.
“I had an abortion experience and felt terrible regret, remorse, shame, guilt, and Christ saved me and freed me from that,” she said. “Forgiveness, and I totally feel forgiven and set free.”
Chris Kladefzir, a New York resident who has attended the March for Life for more than 10 years, said he hopes the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade after seeing the large crowd that gathered amid the court’s looming decision.
Kladefzir, who identified as a Christian, said his religious values influenced his opposition to legalized abortions and he hoped the country would follow suit in the spirit of being “founded on” Christian values.
“Many of our laws were created based on Christian values from the Bible and everything,” he said. “So make it about God again. Just make it all about what God would want us to do.”