WASHINGTON—Students and young adults made up the bulk of the crowd at Friday’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., proving that a new generation has taken on the pro-life mantle.
“I think the movement is getting louder because of young people,” said 75-year-old Maryanne Bennell, a retired nurse originally from New York, as she pushed back the hood of her sweatshirt to show her gray hair. “When we first started to care [it was people] with gray hair, glasses, and wrinkles.”
Though families pushing strollers and elderly men and women assisted by walkers or wheelchairs also came to the 46th annual March for Life, the majority of demonstrators seemed to be in their early 20s or younger. After a rally at the National Mall in chilly temperatures, they marched to the Supreme Court to demand more protection for unborn babies. Many of them held signs reading “Defund Planned Parenthood,” “I am the pro-life generation,” and “Choose life.”
Others got more creative. One Cedarville University student, Susanna Edwards, spent 30 hours hand-sewing a skirt out of tiny baby onesies. She got the idea after listening to a message at her school about how the abortion movement was born out of eugenics. She hoped seeing the onesies would “prompt people to see how many babies don’t make it to this point. … If we can stir affection for the unborn, hopefully we’ll protect them.”
Buses full of Catholic school students traveled for as long as 12 and 14 hours to take part in the march. Groups such as Evangelicals for Life and Democrats for Life of America joined them.
At the rally, the band Sidewalk Prophets played, and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro gave the keynote address. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, made a surprise visit. Pence told the crowd he was “proud of all these young people in this great pro-life generation.” The rally also featured a pre-recorded message of encouragement from President Donald Trump and speeches from pro-life lawmakers.
Alveda King, a civil rights activist and the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., offered a prayer to close the rally and begin the march to the Supreme Court. After having had two abortions, King became a force for the pro-life movement in the 1980s and founded Civil Rights for the Unborn. She told me backstage that she appreciated seeing “more young people at the March for Life than even the older people. … Young people understand that life is sacred. And so, to me, that is the predominant force and energy that leads us every year.”
The march first began in 1974, one year after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Many of the participants in the March for Life weren’t alive to see abortion legalized, but they hope to be around when unborn babies win back their right to life.
“We just want to end it,” said Patrick Denney, a 17-year-old high school student from Indiana.