March for Life Chicago sees record turnout; organizers witnessing 'hearts and minds change' on abortion

The Chicago March for Life, a pro-life rally attended by thousands that took place on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2020.
The Chicago March for Life, a pro-life rally attended by thousands that took place on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2020. | Matt Dula Photography

The Illinois-based pro-life group March for Life Chicago said this year's march drew a record number of attendees.

Dawn Fitzpatrick, president of March for Life Chicago's board of directors, said the organization estimated that at least 9,000 people participated in Saturday's march, the largest attendance yet for their annual event in the Windy City.

"Every year that we've done this march the numbers have grown,” Fitzpatrick told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday.

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“It’s an awesome opportunity for people to come together in solidarity to stand up for life and do something positive and really make a showing.”

The Chicago March for Life, a pro-life rally attended by thousands that took place on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2020.
The Chicago March for Life, a pro-life rally attended by thousands that took place on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2020. | Matt Dula Photography

Fitzpatrick attributed the reported annual increase in attendance to strong enthusiasm from those interested in the event, adding that “these folks have been excited to come all year long.”

“We believe in life; we believe in the sacredness of life. We believe that life begins at conception and that it’s really important to be able to make that feeling known and that belief known,” she continued.

The Chicago Tribune reported that only “about 1,000 people” were at the pro-life march plus dozens of pro-choice counter-demonstrators, based on a figure they got from the Chicago Police Department. 

However, Thomas Ciesielka, a spokesman for Chicago March for Life, told CP that the 9,000 estimate came from the group estimating that there were around 1,000 people marching per city block.

This method of measuring attendance for the Chicago march was first used a few years ago, per the advice of a local journalist. 

Given that this year's March covered about nine city blocks, explained Ciesielka, the group estimated about 9,000 attendees for the event. 

"There are videos of the 2020 March for Life Chicago that make it 100 percent clear that there were many more than what the police reported," he added. 

The event featured a rally that included remarks from Pat McCaskey, vice president of the Chicago Bears; Congressman Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Democratic representative; and Claire Culwell, a pro-life activist who as a baby survived an abortion procedure.  

"At this point, I see a lot of positive growth. A lot of people that are willing to stand up for life," Fitzpatrick told CP, adding that there were "a lot of young people involved in the movement."

"It’s just a matter of time for us to continue to change the minds and hearts of people to realize that we're talking about humanity. This is a human being and science has proved that. A human being at the moment of conception."

March for Life Chicago is one of multiple demonstrations held by pro-life groups in the U.S. each January in response to the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

Decided on Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Roe that there was a constitutional right to abortion. The decision has remained controversial over the decades as more than 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. since that ruling. 

Later this month, the national March for Life rally will take place in Washington, D.C., with participants gathering at National Mall and then marching to the Supreme Court building.

Last October, the March for Life organization announced that the theme for the 2020 gathering will be "Life Empowers: Pro-life is pro-woman.”

The theme was inspired by the fact that this year marks 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

“As we celebrate this great moment in history, we remember and honor the suffragists, the original feminist leaders who recognized the inherent dignity of the unborn and that abortion not only ended a life but harmed women,” stated the March for Life.

“The pro-life movement continues their legacy, recognizing that equal rights begin in the womb. That, in essence, is why we march. We march to end abortion, with the vision of a world where the beauty, dignity, uniqueness, and rights of every human life are valued and protected.”

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