WASHINGTON Tens of thousands of pro-life advocates, including hundreds of different church groups, gathered on Monday in the nations capital for the 33rd annual March for Life, one day after the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
At a rally staged on the National Mall before the march, President George W. Bush called in from Manhattan, Kan., commending those in attendance for their noble cause. Afterward, the marchers traveled along Constitution Avenue, past the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court.
We, of course, seek common ground where possible, Bush said. "We're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause, and this is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens and is rooted in America's deepest principles history tells us that with such a cause, we will prevail."
Various speakers at the rally before the event spoke about pro-life issues in terms of legislation being passed to restrict abortion, with many mentions of conservative Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito and recently appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, both picked by President Bush. Justice Sandra Day OConnor, who will retire when a new Justice is approved by the senate, has been considered a swing vote in favor of abortion rights.
Nellie Gray, President of the March for Life, told those gathered that the pro-life stance went beyond politics.
Feminist abortionists have made this a highly partisan issue. Imagine being partisan about intentionally killing human beings? she asked. We are here to announce that life trumps politics.
Gray was joined by other politicians including Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) who appealed to many of the youth in the crowd to work against abortion.
As I look out at the tens of thousands of young people at this March, a source of inspiration and hope, I cant help but to offer an invitation, a challenge, a plea, for you to absolutely redouble your prayers, fastings and work on behalf of those at risk, both mothers and babies, Smith said. He quoted Matthew 25, referring to Jesus admonition about Whatsoever you do to the least of these you do unto me.
Frequent mention was made by speakers about abortion statistics which indicate that since abortion became legal across every state in 1973, nearly 50 million had taken place.
Among those gathered were many church groups and Christian leaders. One of them was the northern Virginia chapter of Lutherans for Life. The group's president, Dennis Di Mauro, who belongs the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod denomination emphasized the Word of God in support of the pro-life position.
Were here to stand up and let people know that we as Lutherans respect the sanctity of human life according to the Word of God. Were doing everything we can to educate the Lutheran churches about how precious Gods love for that human life is.
We try to get people in churches to do Bible studies and preach sermons about the issue and also to offer the saving love of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins.
He explained that within the denomination his group doesnt face resistance to the pro-life message but does meet with apathy.
Many of them dont have the issue on their radar screen, and I think that is part of the mission as well, he said.
After the rally, the crowd lined up on Constitution Avenue with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic group based in Connecticut leading the marchers.
A group of teenagers held a banner that spanned the wide avenue which read in large bold letters, March for Life. Thousands lined up behind them. The March lasted about three hours as everyone made their way to Capitol Hill.