From the Washington Monument down the National Mall, hundreds of thousands of people peacefully marched bearing signs expressing pro-life sentiments in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27.
Approximately 85 Hillsdale College students and graduates participated in the 44th annual March for Life, protesting the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Crowds chanted “Pro-life,” as Seminarians and priests praid the rosary. Church groups sang hymns, while students carried signs as they marched down Constitution Avenue in the 42-degree, windy weather.
Professor of German Fred Yaniga, Hillsdale Students for Life’s faculty adviser, has attended six trips to D.C. for the march. But this march was different, he said.
“The element of hope has always been there, but the reality today was that we will likely be able to change things,” Yaniga said. “That is the biggest difference from all marches.”
Sophomore Kathleen Russo, Hillsdale Students for Life events coordinator, walked alongside her fellow peers bearing the Hillsdale College Students for Life Banner. Several marchers recognized Hillsdale’s name throughout the duration of the march, giving thumbs-up and shouting, “Go, Hillsdale!”
“I felt a little bit of awe,” Russo said. “You can’t see how many people are marching with you, because of the crowds and all the people that have been streaming past you.”
A rally prior to the march sponsored by the March for Life organization featured several pro-life speakers. Most notably, Vice President Mike Pence addressed those attending the rally with the message that “life is winning again in America.”
“It is no more evident in any way than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life, President Donald Trump,” Pence said.
The march comes days after Trump signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, which prevents foreign aid funding organizations providing abortions worldwide, on Jan. 23. Following the president’s lead, the House of Representatives passed a permanent extension of the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting taxpayer funded abortions the next day.
“This administration will work with Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers,” Pence said. “And we will devote those resources to health care services for women across America.”
This year’s march set a record of attendance, according to the March for Life’s Facebook page.
Junior Nainoa Johsens is spending the semester in Washington, D.C., through the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program. He is interning with the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization dedicated to the election of pro-life legislators, and has spent the past few weeks in preparation for the march for Life by attending events with pro-life legislators who traveled to the capital for the event.
“There’s a lot more excitement about this year’s march, because of the new direction for the country,” Johsens said. “We expected the largest participation thus far.”
Because of the snow that began to sweep over the city of Hillsdale just hours before the scheduled departure of the group to D.C., the two busloads of students arrived at the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship later than expected, so students did not attend church services prior to the rally and march.
Nonetheless, students proudly marched, holding signs with the words, “We are the Pro-Life Generation” and “#LifeCounts.”
“So many kids want to come and do this, and they don’t get much out of it for themselves,” Russo said. “At the end of the day, this is a demonstration of what Hillsdale teaches us.”