Hillsdale College for Life took a record 143 stu­dents to Wash­ington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. Roberta Briggs | Courtesy

A record number of Hillsdale College stu­dents traveled more than 500 miles last week to Wash­ington, D.C., to par­tic­ipate in the national March for Life. The annual anti-abortion protest drew a crowd of hun­dreds of thou­sands, according to reports.

Hillsdale College for Life faculty advisor and Pro­fessor of German Fred Yaniga said more than 140 Hillsdale stu­dents filled three coach buses last Thursday night for the eleven-hour, overnight trip. Yaniga also said in his eight years of attending the March for Life, this year’s crowd was the largest he’s wit­nessed.

The theme the March for Life adopted this year was “Unique from Day One,” and the slogan Hillsdale College for Life embraced was “Pro-Life is Pro-Science.”

“This message rein­forces the fact that human life begins from the time of con­ception, from day one,” senior Kathleen Russo, pres­ident of Hillsdale College for Life said. “On day one of con­ception, a baby has its own, one-of-a-kind DNA. Hillsdale is all about the pursuit of truth, and this year’s theme aimed to do just that.”

Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence along with his wife, Karen Pence, addressed the marchers prior to the demon­stration, and famed political com­men­tator Ben Shapiro joined members of con­gress from both the Repub­lican and Demo­c­ratic parties in giving speeches. Pres­ident Donald Trump delivered a pre-recorded message to the crowd on the digital screen at the rally.

Pence called Trump “the most pro-life pres­ident in American history” during his speech, while Trump vowed to veto any bill Con­gress passes that “weakens the pro­tection of human life.”

Despite support from the White House, it is unclear how many advances the pro-life platform will make in terms of leg­is­lation in the coming con­gres­sional year. The political power among federal law­makers is split, with Democrats in control of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Repub­licans in control of the U.S. Senate.

“I sense a steady pressure mounting on law­makers to put into place reg­u­la­tions which will restrict abortion more and more,” Yaniga said. “I had a number of con­ver­sa­tions with people at the march who were con­cerned about the pos­si­bility of quick changes being dif­ficult to maintain. Our society is still largely divided on basic issues in this dis­cussion.”

Sophomore Megan Kerr, who attended the march with Hillsdale College for Life and has can­vassed for the pro-life orga­ni­zation Susan B. Anthony list in the past, pointed to the state of the federal judi­ciary as a reason for optimism.

“I think that we are in a great position of influence with a more pro-life Supreme Court, a pro-life pres­ident, and a majority in the Senate,” Kerr said. “I’m hopeful that we can keep passing more leg­is­lation to protect the unborn, such as the Title X rule change.”

The Trump administration’s Title X pro­posal would block federal tax­payer dollars from going toward orga­ni­za­tions that perform abor­tions, such as Planned Par­enthood.

Yaniga said in addition to advo­cating for pro­tecting unborn children, he would like to see the pro-life movement take a “philo­sophical approach to the dignity of human life at all stages.”

“Devel­oping a culture of life in this country and in this world will depend on teaching with con­viction that all human lives have intrinsic value which cannot be extin­guished, stripped, taken away. Babies are beau­tiful and easy enough to defend,” Yaniga said. “Defending the lives of others is less popular and more chal­lenging, but absolutely nec­essary lest we begin to allow gov­ern­ments, insti­tu­tions, or indi­viduals to make choices about which people are worthy of life.”

Kerr also men­tioned the value in advo­cating for life at all stages, born and unborn. She added that the protest was done in peace and with love.

“We want to exercise our rights to free speech and assembly, but we also see how rad­icals get so carried away in vio­lence and sug­gestive behavior,” Kerr said. “We want to do the com­plete opposite. We want to come in peace and show our love for babies, for the ter­mi­nally ill, for all life.”