More than 150 Hillsdale College students attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., last weekend, breaking previous records according to Hillsdale College for Life President Olivia Manocchio.
The attendees filled three coach busses and left on Thursday night to attend the March on Friday, returning to Hillsdale early Saturday morning.
While President Donald Trump addressed the rally last year via a video statement, he became the first president to ever attend the March for Life in person and delivered an address at a pre-march rally.
Despite once being “very pro-choice” by his own admission, Trump told the crowd that “unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”
Manocchio said pro-life gains in state legislatures and federal courts, as well as Trump’s presence at the rally, speak for his newfound commitment to the pro-life movement.
“President Trump’s decision to speak at the rally electrified the crowd,” Manocchio said. “His address demonstrated his total support for the pro-life movement, which is quite encouraging.”
Manocchio also mentioned that Trump’s presence forced media outlets, who have previously ignored the March, to cover the event this year, prompting viewers who may not know about the pro-life movement to consider and discuss it.
Junior Tony DeLapp has attended the March for Life in previous years and attended again this year with the Hillsdale group.
“We showed up an hour early to get into the rally, and we didn’t even get close to it because of the amount of people,” DeLapp said. “This year felt like it had the highest attendance in my three years of going.”
DeLapp also said he was encouraged by the friendliness of strangers at the march from all corners of the country.
“The March for Life is always an amazing experience because every single person there is so friendly,” he said. “Many people come up to you and tell you how incredibly lucky you are that you attend such a great school. I’m happy that every year Hillsdale has given me the opportunity to march for the unborn.”
While multiple states have passed “heartbeat bills” that prohibit abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, Manocchio said the pro-life movement should focus not on overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which would give states the option of legalizing abortion, but Doe v. Bolton, which would create statewide legislation outlawing abortion.
For either of those court cases to be overturned, it would take a pro-life majority in federal courts, a trend that Trump’s presidency has promoted. Trump’s appointments of Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have also rallied the pro-life movement and given it a sense of momentum in the last three years.
Manocchio also said that pro-life advocates should “continue trying to change the hearts of abortion supporters” and “continue to support mothers in crisis pregnancy situations and promote abstinence education.”
Junior Logan Pentecost, who attended the March with Hillsdale for the first time, said it was a good experience.
“It was great to march with so many other young people in defense of the helpless and against the great evil of our generation,” he said.
A defining characteristic of the March for Life each year is the number of student groups like Hillsdale’s that bus to D.C. That wasn’t lost on Trump.
“Young people are the heart of the March for Life,” Trump said to the crowd. “It’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.”