(Photo: AP Images / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON – Organizers say some 300,000 people, mostly young, walked under overcast skies Friday to stand up for the preborn at the annual March for Life.
They were joined by another 78,000 virtual pro-lifers, including former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who marched with them online in the first-ever Virtual March for Life.
"Affirming the dignity and worth of every innocent human life and defending the defenseless are fundamental American values," Palin wrote Thursday in her Facebook page. "With that in mind, this peaceful, hopeful grassroots crowd of individuals, families and students comes to our capital every year to remind us that every innocent life is beautiful, precious and full of potential.
"Though I can’t be in Washington tomorrow, my heart is with the marchers."
Since the first March for Life in 1974, a year after the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion, the number of marchers has swelled from 20,000 to over a quarter million in recent years. While pro-lifers have continued to create a massive presence in the nation's capital – and now on the Web as well – some say the media has been playing down or ignoring the march altogether.
American Life League Communications Director Katie Walker, 23, says the media typically counts the March for Life crowd as "thousands" when in reality, hundreds of thousands from across the country are amassed.
Steve Sanborn, a development and public relations professional, grew weary of the inaccurate or lack of coverage. So he brought a crew together, including documentary film producer Jack Cashill ("The Holocaust Through Our Own Eyes") and set up cameras on rooftops to record and show the true numbers of March for Life participants.
"Thine Eyes: A Witness to the March or Life" – derived from Psalm 139:16 – is the first high-end documentary on the March for Life. It follows groups of college and high school students from Atchison, Kan., St. Louis, and Birmingham, Ala., who load buses to travel to the 2009 March for Life. Cameras on the ground show a diverse crowd who have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to march one mile in Washington – all united for the purpose of protecting the preborn.
One 19-year-old student in the film expresses his dismay that Americans are pushing for laws to protect animals, plants and the environment yet are allowing a human life to be killed. And what makes the fight to end abortion even more challenging is that the group of persons (preborn) who are being disrespected and killed are not able to do anything about it, he adds.
"Thine Eyes" refutes the media's reporting of not only the number of marchers but also their portrayals of marchers as angry and old. The film reveals that the majority of March for Life participants are under 25 years of age and not violent.
"A lot of times it's surprising for people seeing the number of people for the first time who are all united," one young female student in the film says. "For a first-timer that's someone that may grow in their zeal for the movement just by seeing the sheer number of people there, being able to observe it and take it all in and really see for themselves how many people in America are pro-life and that pro-lifers aren't just the weirdo person you see walking down the hall at school or some radical who's not likable at all."
She adds, "There's no stereotype for someone who's pro-life. It's just people who love life."
Also featured in the documentary is actress Jennifer O'Neill, who had an abortion in the 1970s after the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court.
"In those days abortion just became legal and we were told that our babies before three months gestation were just a blob of tissue, a cluster of cells, a nobody, a nothing," O'Neill recalls. "That's not the truth. With the advent of the ultrasound machine we can see the humanity of our babies right off.
"And God says in His word, who to me is the ultimate authority, that He knows each and every one of us as He knits us together in our mother's womb. God doesn't make mistakes."
March for Life is held every year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. With the anniversary falling on a weekend in 2011 and 2012, organizers have moved the march to the Monday after the Jan. 23 anniversary to give marchers the opportunity to visit with their Congressional delegates and press their pro-life message.