By April Thompson
DALLAS, January 17, 2014— Next Wednesday marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that–along with it’s sister case Doe v. Bolton– invalidated every state law regulating abortion to give America some of the most permissive abortion laws in the world.
The next year, a few thousand pro-life activists gathered in Washington, D.C. to mark the day. What has emerged from that event in 1974 is what is certainly the nation’s, and possibly history’s, largest and most continuous peaceful demonstration. For forty years, right to life activists have held a rally and march on January 22, beginning at noon on the National Mall and culminating at the Supreme Court steps.
The March for Life has hundreds of thousands of activists from all over the country. Estimates put the number of the 40th anniversary rally in 2013 at 665,000. The March is always held on a weekday even when January 22 falls on a weekend, allowing demonstrators from around the country the opportunity to meet with their congressional representatives.
Technology is changing how advocates promote and interact with the event. “As we have seen just in the last two years pro-lifers have really changed the world through social media. If it wasn’t for social media no one would have heard of abortionist Kermit Gosnell,” said Jeanne Monahan, president of The march for Life Education and Defense Fund. “Most in national media would like to ignore the reality that most of mainstream America is pro-life and that abortion is often ugly. Now they are finding it harder and harder to do that.”
Throughout the month of January, designated Sanctity of Life Month by pro-life advocates, activists are promoting their message on social media using the hashtag #WhyWeMarch. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms, sentiments such as “Our worth is not based in circumstances, but in our shared humanity,” promote the pro-life message. The March for Life organization is sponsoring a Tweetfest with the hashtag on the day of the March.
“Part of the beauty of the March is in how it hasn’t changed. Be it 1974 or 2014 the majority of the marchers are the next generation of pro-lifers,” Monahan said. “The exuberance of the marchers is just so inspiring.”
Some people come annually, with groups such as Missouri Right to Life sending bus loads of people across the country. Although their numbers are down somewhat compared to previous years because January 22 falls on a Wednesday, they are sending 12 buses from around the state. Additionally, the Catholic Church and other groups in the state send buses, including 36 buses of high school and middle school students.
Thousands of pro-life advocates from Missouri alone will make the 800-plus mile trip to Washington, D.C. According to Maggie Bick of Missouri Right to Life, the trip is a whirlwind. Buses chartered by MRTL will leave Tuesday morning, arriving on the morning of 22nd. The travelers will participate in a church service, have legislatures meetings with their legislators, and then attend the March. Afterward, they will file back onto the buses to begin the drive back to Missouri, arriving Thursday afternoon.
“The thing that really moves me is the number of new people you meet every time you go. It’s a beautiful experience. By going to this march, a lot of people get a lot of hope.” Bick said. “This is a great opportunity to march and a great shot in the arm for the pro-life movement, but what really matters is when you come back home, what are you going to do about it. Think about what you can do about being pro-life and think about a good place for you to make that a part of your life.”
In addition to the numerous pro-life advocates who travel to Washington from around the country, local marches and rallies take place in most states. In some states like Virginia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania, activists held events earlier in the month to facilitate travel to the March for Life in Washington.
In other states, particularly on the East Coast, pro-life organizations use their resources to send groups to Washington rather than host their own events. Organizations often have other events in addition to these main events, such as prayer services or information fairs.
Following are activities being held in most states throughout this next week.
Alabama— On Saturday, Jan.18, the Birmingham Rally and March for Life will begin at 10:45 at Brother Bryan Park.
Alaska— The 14th annual Anchorage interdenominational prayer service marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade takes place at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18.
Arizona— Sanctity of Life Sunday Prayer Rally will be held on Sunday, Jan. 19, from 2:00 to 3:15 at Welsey Bolin Memorial Plaza in Phoneix.
Arkansas—The 36th annual March for Life is Saturday, Jan. 18 beginning at 2:00 at the State Capitol in Little Rock.
California—The Walk for Life West Coast will be start at 12:30 Saturday, Jan. 25 at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.
Delaware—The Delaware March for Life begins at noon on Friday, Jan. 17 at Rodney Square in Wilmington.
Florida—March for Life St. Augustine on Saturday, Jan. 18, beginning at Mission Nombre de Dios at 11:00 am. The Stand for Life Rally will be on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at noon at the Federal Courthouse in Jacksonville.
Georgia—In Atlanta, the Georgia March for Life will be held Wednesday, January 22 at the State Capitol steps at 11:15.
Hawaii—A luminary ceremony and prayer service is being held on Wednesday, January 22 in Honolulu at the State Capitol building.
Idaho—The March For Life 2014 begins at 1:00 p.m. at Julia Davis Park in Boise on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Illinois—A March for Life will take place Saturday, Jan. 18 at 1:00 p.m. in Palatine. Another March for Life will be held in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 19 at Federal Plaza at 1:00.
Indiana— The 40th annual Fort Wayne March for Life begins at noon on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at noon at 431 West Berry Street.
Iowa—The Midwest March for Life will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 11:00 a.m. on the west steps of the Iowa State Capitol.
Kansas—Rally for Life at noon, Wednesday, Jan. 22 on the south side of the Capitol in Topeka.
Kentucky— Louisville Rally for Life takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at noon outside Metro Hall.
Louisiana— The Louisiana Life Rally South takes place in Baton Rouge on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Galvaz Plaza. The Louisiana Life Rally North is a week later in Shreveport on Saturday, Jan. 25. The march begins at 10 a.m. at the north lot of the Bossier City Boardwalk.
Maine—At 12:15, the Hands Across the Capitol March and Rally will begin at St. Michael’s Gymnasium in Augusta.
Michigan— Local groups will hold numerous events across the state, including the Rally at the Capitol Steps on Tuesday, Jan 21, at 4:00 p.m. in Lansing.
Minnesota— The 40th annual MCCL March for Life will be held at noon on Wednesday , Jan. 22 at the Capitol grounds in St. Paul.
Missouri— The Midwest March for Life begins at 10:00a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferon City.
Nebraska—The Nebraska Walk for Life will start at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 on the north side of the State Capitol in Lincoln.
New Hampshire— The March for Life will take place Saturday, Jan. 18 beginning at 11:15 a.m. at the Gold Domed State House Steps.
New Jersey— On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Rally for Life will be at 11:00 a.m. at the State House Steps in Trenton.
New Mexico—A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Mount Calvary Cemetery beginning at 5:00 p.m.
North Carolina—A rally and March for Life will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 18 in Nash Square in Raleigh
North Dakota—Rally will be held on the Capitol steps in Bismark on Sanctity of Life Sunday, Jan. 19 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Ohio—Numerous local events are held throughout the week, including a rally at the west plaza of the Statehouse in Columbus at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Oklahoma—The Tulsa March for Life will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 8th and Boulder.
Oregon— The Roe v. Wade Rally and Memorial Walk is Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2:30 at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland.
South Dakota—Their will be an hour of reflection held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19 in the rotunda of the Capitol in Pierre.
Tennessee—Local events include Lawrence County Right to Life Pro-Life Rally at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19 at the Lawrence City Administration Building, Shelby County Right to Life Stand for Life Rally at Bartlett Performing Arts Center at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19, and The Knoxville March for Life starting at Calvary Baptist Church at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Texas— The Dallas March for Life will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 3:00 p.m. beginning at the Convention Center. The Texas Rally for Life is held at the Capitol in Austin on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 1:00 p.m.
Vermont—The Rally for Life will begin at 10:45 behind City Hall in Montpelier on Saturday, Jan. 18.
Washington—the March for Life will be held Tuesday, Jan. 21 at noon at the Capitol in Olympia.
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