WASHINGTON – One day after the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, tens of thousands of people gathered on a cold, rainy Monday for the 39th Annual March for Life at the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Families, churches, schools, monks, nuns, Orthodox Jews, and many others from across the country crowded the streets shouting "We love babies!" and telling the watching public that "life counts."
Henry J. Mansell, Archbishop of Hartford, Conn., told The Christian Post that he had been involved in the annual March for Life for "many years" as well as other marches elsewhere in the country.
"It's a blight on our society, on the history of the United States," said Mansell regarding the estimated 50 million plus abortions performed in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
Mansell also told CP that "particularly with young people" the country was becoming more pro-life, mainly because "they understand sonar imaging."
"We see with sonar imaging what is really involved with the fetus reacting to pain, audible heartbeats, all those things are showing great increases in terms of" pro-life legislation, he noted.
"These are all positive developments."
Despite this, Mansell and others at the rally expressed concern about the recent decision by the Obama Administration mandating religious institutions provide employees with free birth control, which would also include abortion-causing drugs, through their health insurance plans.
The archbishop believes the administration's decision "violates our conscience and violates our principles of religious liberty."
"This very dangerous directive coming from the Department of Health and Human Services, we all have to fight that," he said.
"We should not have to take this and that's what they are calling for."
The March for Life began with a singing of the National Anthem, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a prayer given by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy.
Speaker of the House John Boehner delivered the opening remarks for the event and was followed by several members of Congress and other individuals.
"We are heeding the voice of the people, who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortion," said Boehner. "We may disagree on a lot of other areas, sometimes starkly, but we are one and the same when it comes to this issue."
Speaker Boehner mentioned the Republican controlled House of Representatives' support of the Hyde Amendment, which would bar the government from including abortion services as part of federal health care with few exceptions including rape and incest.
"The House has passed bipartisan legislation to codify the Hyde Amendment across our entire government and we will continue to press the Senate for a vote," he said.
The rally was one of many events organized for the past days surrounding the 39th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.