A year after 41st annual "March for Life" showed signs of attracting marchers younger than usual as well as abortion foes from faiths other than reliable Roman Catholic contingent, signs were strong at the 42nd such event Thursday that this broadening base of "Marchers for Life" was a continuing trend.
Where sub-zero temperatures no doubt diminished the ranks of the "March for Life" in 2014, a sunny day in 2015 likely enhanced the numbers of those who attended a rally on the National Mall and then marched to the Supreme Court.
The march has been held every Jan. 22 since the Supreme Court's 1973 "Roe v. Wade" ruling that effectively legalized abortion nationwide.
Conor Shiel, a parade marshal from Grand High Springs, Virginia, and himself a Roman Catholic, told Newsmax that "this absolutely cannot be considered a 'Catholic event.' So far, I’ve met Buddhists, Orthodox Eastern Rite Catholics, Baptists, and a contingent of Mormons that came down from Richmond. Their presence today shows that the cause of life transcends any religion."
Shiel added that he had counted marchers from 38 different states, "but I suspect there are folks here from all fifty."
"I’ve met quite a lot of non-Catholics here today," Deacon Robert E.J. Cripps of the Holy Byzantine Catholic Church in Parma, Ohio, told Newsmax during the march. "There are great numbers of evangelicals and quite a few people from Orthodox religions. They understand that the cause of life is not a Catholic issue, any more than it’s Jewish issue or a Protestant issue, but an issue of morality."
Deacon Cripps said he felt the obviously larger turnout for this year’s March over its 2014 predecessor is due as much to "the change of the situation in Congress after the November elections" as to the more favorable weather.
"There is a feeling Congress can make good on government not using tax dollars for abortions. Obamacare has been a big problem in this regard, because the results of it have led to a greater use of tax dollars for abortion-related procedures."
The enhanced number of younger people in the 2015 March was also clear. Busloads of high school and college students from Staten Island, New York, to St. Louis, Missouri, descended on the Mall. Many young women carried signs bearing the legend: "I’M WORTH WAITING FOR!"
"I decided to come this year because I really wanted to stand up for the unborn children," first-time marcher McKenzie Shea, 18, of St. Charles, Missouri, told us. "Abortion should not continue to happen."
Like a lot of the young marchers, Shea said that not all of her friends shared her views and, "I have a lot of friends on both sides of the abortion issue."
Tyler Kitchell, a freshman at Vincennes (Indiana) University and also a first-time marcher, agreed. He told us he had "friends who are pro-life and friends who are pro-choice" but "I’m here today because I feel strongly about this issue."
Father Crispen Adongo, a Kenyan-born Roman Catholic seminarian, told Newsmax that there "were more than 250 young people" on the bus from the Diocese of Evansville high school in Indiana where he teaches.
"Our young people certainly want to stand for life and take action on this issue," he said. "But I also think that the large number of young people is due in part to more of them being told about it through greater use of social networking. Facebook and Twitter probably played a big part in this."
One group of nearly 50 college-age marchers showed its passion by leaving the event and crowding into the office of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R.-North Carolina) to protest her role Wednesday in sinking a pro-life bill that would have required victims of rape seeking abortion to reporting their reason to law enforcement authorities.
Along with Rep. Jackie Walorski (R.-Indiana), Ellmers objected to the measure because she felt it would have cast the GOP as "harsh and judgmental" in its treatment of young women.
Other critics of Ellmers' actions took to Twitter to charge that, despite the North Carolinian’s 100 percent rating with the National Right to Life Committee, "You betrayed us."
But some things remained as they always have on the day of the March for Life. The National Park Police refuse to give reporters estimates of how many marchers took part — as they have for the past few years, ever since organizers began charging they were "lowballing" marchers' ranks.
Moreover, as he has every Jan. 22 since he took office, President Barack Obama issued a statement hailing "Roe" as a decision that "reaffirms a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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