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.”