WASHINGTON – Thousands gathered on Thursday in the nation's capital for the annual March for Life rally that seeks to turn attention back to the abortion issue following the media lovefest that was President Barack Obama's inauguration.
"I do not believe the pro-life movement has failed overall, in the sense that what we have been doing is wrong, or that what we have been aiming for is hopeless," said Maria McFadden Maffucci, editor of the Human Life Review, in response to critics who say the pro-life movement had made little progress under staunch pro-life President George W. Bush.
"I believe that pro-life individuals have failed to make the protection of the unborn an actual priority," Maffucci contended in the statement issued by the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person. "The current election was not 'about' abortion; many who voted for Obama voted for him in spite of, not because of, his position on abortion."
Many groups are visiting Capitol Hill this week to convey their opposition to abortion, including Heartbeat International, a Christian association of more than 1,000 pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies and medical clinics that offer help to struggling mothers.
The association plans to introduce women who rejected abortion as well as their saved children to members of Congress this week to share how pregnancy centers are good for America.
"Members of Congress need to hear from the women we serve. I am grateful they have such positive things to say about pregnancy center help," said Heartbeat President Peggy Hartshorn.
"Children are America's greatest natural resource, and our elected officials need to preserve the bond between mother and child," she said. "Our families and the future of our country are strengthened by the life-saving work of pregnancy centers."
Hartshorn said the Heartbeat network saves about 2,000 babies a week from abortion with its more than 25,000 volunteers and $125 million a year in charitable support.
"We are not here looking for a bailout," she stated. "Without any financial gain, Heartbeat's network serves women with unexpected pregnancies."
Other pro-life events being held this week include a door-to-door initiative to inform people about abortion by the group Organized for Life, and a National Service for the Pre-born that was held inside the new U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Thursday morning. Dozens of clergies and pro-life leaders attended the indoor event.
"This year's Pre-born Service is more important than ever," noted the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action in the nation's capital. "We now have an administration that threatens to reverse all the pro-life gains of the last eight years. We must be a strong witness to the Gospel of Life in the midst of the Congress."
The March for Life rally, Pre-born Service, and other pro-life events mark the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide on Jan. 22, 1973.
Members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod reported that they were also among the thousands participating in the pro-life rally.
A March for Life West Coast rally will take place in San Francisco Saturday afternoon where more than 25,000 people are expected to participate.