March for Life Draws Huge Crowd

Hundreds of thousands of people thronged the National Mall on Friday to protest abortion and call for overturning the 40-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Protesters — drawn by social media and church youth groups — flocked to the annual March for Life despite subfreezing temperatures.

“We are winning with young people. I see it right in front of me today,” said organizer Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund.

This is Monahan’s first year leading the march and she made major changes to appeal to a younger audience. “We shortened the program from longer than two hours to an hour, picked speakers who are more engaging and we are deeply engaging social media.”

Leaders Chime in

As one abortion opponent after another addressed the crowd, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., drew the loudest applause with an attack on the court ruling: “Forty years ago this past Tuesday marks the Supreme Court’s infamous, reckless and inhumane abandonment of women and babies to the abortionists.”

“Know this, Mr. President — we will never quit,” Smith said before the marchers took off on their route down Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner roused the crowd when he said: “Because human life is not an economic or political commodity … no government on Earth has the right to treat it as such.”

Pope Benedict XVI sent them his encouragement by Twitter: “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

Personal stories

Anina Lund, 14, Monica Dewey, 15, and Monica’s brother Jackson, 12, came from West Chester, N.Y., with a group from St. Anne’s Church. Both girls spoke of how their families faced abortion decisions.

Monica, one of 10 children, recalled: “My younger brother was very sick in the womb and the doctors told my mom to abort the baby, but she chose not to. He is here today, and he is perfectly healthy.”

Anina had a similar story: “I had a little sister who was going to be aborted because she was premature. But now she is 7, and she is perfect. This march gave my mom so much support.”

‘Where is the outrage?’

Kathleen Cranford, 61, of Slidell, La., came to the march Friday with her husband, Clay.

“I’ve wanted to attend all my life, and now I am here — it’s a dream come true,” she said. As disturbed as Americans are by the killings in Newtown, Conn., she said, abortion has killed millions more: “Where is the outrage?”