“Life is winning in America,” Vice President Mike Pence told a cheering crowd. “And today is a celebration of the progress that we have made in the cause.”
RELATED: Highlights from march
While last week’s March for Women was a protest targeted against the new administration, Friday’s March for Life was something very different: A celebration of a new administration that had vowed to fight legalized abortion in America.
“We’ve been in the dark ages the last eight years,” said Fred Schoen of St. Patrick Church in Columbus. “There’s a lot of optimism right now.”
The crowd was thick with nuns and priests. A woman pushed a stroller with a child holding up a sonogram. “This was me four years ago,” the sign read. A group of eighth graders from St. Michael Catholic School in Worthington wore cheery yellow hats and held up placards as they marched down Constitution Avenue. “One: We are pro-life! Two: A little bit louder! Three: We still can’t hear you! More, more, more, more,” they chanted.
Right to Life march in DC
The St. Michael eighth graders had been in the D.C. area since Wednesday, crashing on the floor of a suburban Catholic church. They’d seen the sights and now “they get the chance to stand up for their beliefs,” said John Wallace, a teacher at the school.
“It’s refreshing,” said Father Anthony Dinovo, the pastor at the church. “to have someone who is going to support our understanding of the value of human life. I hope, like everyone else, that he can deliver on his promises.”
On Monday, Trump reinstated a federal policy to prevent foreign aid from funding organizations that promote or perform abortions. He plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee next week, and has promised that that nominee will oppose legalized abortion.
“This gives us hope that something’s going to change, that there’s someone in the top who believes” said Sherie Compton of Ottawa, Ohio, a youth ministry leader who came in with a busload of youth from northwest Ohio. “I’m not always happy with what Trump says, but if he overturns this, we’re saving babies.
Emily Holdheide, 19, of Fort Loramie, Ohio, said the tone of the protest was far less angry. “There’s a lot less yelling,” she said. “It’s more laid back.”
“The tone is so much different,” said Hannah Barga, 21 of Fort Recovery, Ohio. “We know we’re coming into a completely different environment.”
Next to her, Elise Gehle, 16, also of Fort Recovery, nodded. “We know we’re going to be heard.”
On stage, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and counselor to the president, assured protestors that ending legal abortion was a key priority of Trump’s.
“It’s a new day, a new dawn for life,” she said, urging those gathered next to the National Mall to “stand up, stand tall and stand together on behalf of babies in the womb.”
“We hear you,” she said to roars of approval. “We see you. We respect you.”
Trump sent his own message via Twitter: “The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching —- you have my full support!”
After an hour-long rally, the crowd marched en masse to Capitol Hill and the U.S. Supreme Court. Many chanted “We are the pro-life generation,” as they marched.
“It doesn’t feel like a protest,” said Steve Miller, 20, a University of Dayton junior from Fredericksburg, Va. “It feels like a celebration.”