By HANNAH ROTHWELL
It was a warm and sunny day in the middle of January. The weather felt out of place, but was welcomed. People from all walks of life traveled far and wide to gather in downtown D.C. As soon as they stepped out of the Smithsonian Metro Station, they were greeted by smiling faces handing out bright green signs saying “Choose love. Choose life” and inviting them to join the crowd that was rapidly amassing.
On January 19, 500,000 people lined the streets from the foot of the Washington Monument to the steps of the Supreme Court. Half a million people gathered peacefully to tell the nation and the world that they would not be silent while the dignity of their fellow human beings was cast aside and ignored.
The March for Life began in 1974. Although they have been marching for 45 years, it was my first, and I didn’t know what to expect. A year ago, I would have expected to see a lot of old white men parroting the same lines about stopping abortion without giving a second thought to the women involved. But over the last year, I interacted more with the people who attend the march annually, and they had proven a lot of my assumptions wrong. This year, I wanted to see for myself what it means to be pro-life.
The day started out with a boom. The loudspeakers were blasting music all the way from the Museum of Natural History to the Reflecting Pool. The alternative rocker Plumb opened up the event.
Immediately following, was a string of speakers ranging from NFL players to politicians. Each one was speaking about the dignity human life from their own perspective. Pam Tebow spoke about the joy she felt raising her son and watching him grow into a successful man. Sister Bethany Madonna spoke about the love and strength that she saw in the people that she served in her ministry supporting women and families. Paul Ryan took the stage in support of the march, and even President Trump had his speech to the marchers broadcasted live on the jumbotron. As inspiring as the speeches were, what really struck me were the crowds.
“I noticed how peaceful it is; I noticed how many young people there are; I noticed how many women there are. People like to say that it’s just old white men that are making these policies, but there’s a lot of women who also support them,” said Grace Rihl, a junior geology major.
As a self-identified feminist, the dignity of women is a central reason why she marches. “One of the most detrimental things to women is that they believe they have no other choice but abortion. Why do women feel like having a baby is going to stop them from being successful? That’s not okay. We have this natural, beautiful, wonderful ability to create life and we’re told that if that happens we’ll become smaller in society.”
Abortion was a big topic at the march. In the river of signs flooding down Constitution Avenue, a lot of them said things like “save the storks” or “1/3 of my generation is missing,” but I was surprised to realize that wasn’t the only reason people were marching. For every sign that said “social justice starts in the womb” there was another that said “refugees are people too.”
“I went to show my support for all human life at all stages. Not just for the babies in the womb, but also where life is being attacked, like in the family, the end of life, those who are being abused, brutalized, innocent people who are being bombed,” said Matthew Malanga, an undeclared freshman. “As humans we should make every effort possible to preserve innocent human life.”
I went to the March for Life to see what it means to be pro-life. I discovered that the term encompasses far more than I originally thought. It means supporting refugees, elderly, homeless, victims of bullying, people struggling with suicidal thoughts, women in desperate situations, and yes- the unborn. The people there were marching to support the dignity of human life, in all of its forms and stages, and I was proud to call myself a part of it.