WASHINGTON, D.C. – Every year around the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, thousands of demonstrators flock to Washington to show their dissatisfaction with the decision that legalized abortion.
This year, the March for Life demonstrators had a bit more of a skip in their step because of the new administration.
“I decided to come to the March for Life because it’s the right thing to do. I see the injustice that has been going on in our nation, and I came because we need to let the world know that this is not right,” said AnnieLaurie Anton of Prescott, Arizona, a student at Colorado Christian University.
The crowd was filled with supporters of the new president and vice president, and Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime abortion opponent, spoke at the event.
After eight years of the White House supporting abortion rights, demonstrators felt like they finally had a voice.
“We are getting our message heard. People in Washington are listening to us and hearing that this is not a cause that we can just ignore,” said Mikayle Jacquot of Fort Collins, a student at Colorado Christian University.
For many on both sides of the issue, the decision to oppose abortion or support choice is a personal one, affected by what people have gone through and their religious beliefs.
“We had one of the women from a crisis pregnancy center come and speak at my church. In that moment when I was listening to her, it stirred something in my heart, and that was the start of all of this,” said Stephanie Schlabach of Yellow Springs, Ohio, a student at Colorado Christian University.
Typical critiques of the anti-abortion movement include the idea that people with that position only care about the life of the unborn child, but that doesn’t necessarily ring true for all within the movement.
“Hearing the stories of the women and all the pain that they went through after having an abortion, I think it’s important to stand up for not only the children, but the mothers as well,” Schlabach said.
While the March for Life is centered around opposition to abortion, some demonstrators also took the opportunity to talk about other issues that they believe are related.
Harris Mills of Grand Marais, Minnesota, who previously worked at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, held up a sign that said “Pro-Life/Pro-Environment.”
“Over the years, the environmental movement got separated from the pro-life movement through partisan politics. The environmental issues and pro-life issues are all one in the same. It’s about all of us living together in a way in which we’ve all got space to live,” Mills said.
The crowd included students and young people who call themselves the “Pro-Life generation,” and they want to change policies surrounding abortions.
“People need to feel personally empowered to make a difference, by their own lifestyle and by the way they vote. In our complex society, people tend to think it’s somebody else’s job and somebody else’s business. It’s not, it has got to start with the individual,” Mills said.
Shira Stein is a reporting intern for the Herald in Washington, D.C., and a student at American University. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @stein_shira.