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Pro-life demonstrators brave DC snow for 2024 March for Life

Thousands of demonstrators traveled to Washington, D.C., Friday for the annual March for Life rally in support of abortion restrictions.

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators gathered in the nation's capital Friday to advocate for the unborn at the annual March for Life.

Unbothered as snow and freezing temperatures swept D.C., the activists gathered on the National Mall for a rally ahead of a planned march from the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court building. Several U.S. lawmakers, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.; celebrities; faith leaders; and prominent figures in the pro-life movement addressed the crowd for about an hour before the march began.

Participants carried signs with messages such as "Life is precious" and "I am the pro-life generation." March for Life organizers expected 50,000 people to attend the rally and 100,000 to march, according to a permit issued by the National Park Service. But turnout appeared to be down from previous years due to the stormy weather. 

"This is a critical time to help all moms who are facing unplanned pregnancies to work with foster children and to help families who are adopting, to volunteer and assist our vital pregnancy resource centers in our maternity homes and to reach out a renewed hand of compassion and to speak the truth and love," Speaker Johnson told the crowd. 


"This is also a pivotal time to promote quality health care for both women and their unborn children."

The March for Life started in 1973 when a group of 30 pro-life leaders conceived a rally to protest the national legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Two years ago, after a half-century of marches and legal challenges brought by the pro-life movement, the court overturned its precedent and ended federal protections for abortion. 


Friday's event is the second March for Life since that landmark decision returned the abortion fight to state legislatures with mixed results. Since the court returned abortion lawmaking to the states in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 14 states are now enforcing bans on abortion throughout pregnancy. Two more have such bans on hold because of court rulings. And another two have bans that take effect when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy, often before women know they’re pregnant.

But abortion restrictions have also lost at the ballot box in Ohio, Kansas and Kentucky. And total bans have produced high-profile causes for abortion rights supporters to rally around. Kate Cox, a Texas mother of two, sought an abortion after learning the baby she was carrying had a fatal genetic condition. Her request for an exemption from Texas’ ban, one of the country’s strictest, was denied by the state Supreme Court, and she left Texas to seek an abortion elsewhere.

March for Life speakers urged the crowd to continue pushing for abortion restrictions until it becomes "unthinkable" to end a child's life in the womb. Those who spoke included Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family; Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship; and University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh, who just led the Wolverines to a college football national championship. 


"Roe is done, but we still live in a culture that knows not how to care for life," said Benjamin Watson, a former NFL tight end turned pro-life activist. "Roe is done, but the factors that drive women to seek abortions are ever apparent and ever increasing. Roe is done, but abortion is still legal and thriving in too much of America."

The national debate over abortion rights, now fought in state legislatures, has also invigorated the pro-choice side. With the 2024 election approaching, Democrats have sought to make President Biden's re-election effort a national referendum on protecting abortion rights.

To commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Biden campaign is reportedly preparing to run a series of ads tying the election to a "woman's right to make her own health care decisions — including the very possible reality of a MAGA Republican-led national abortion ban," according to CBS News. 

Biden will hold a campaign rally in northern Virginia Jan. 23 that will focus on attempts in Virginia and other states to restrict abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the report said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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