Tens of thousands of people gathered in the District of Columbia on Friday to demonstrate their opposition to abortion in the first annual “March for Life” since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and delivered a long-sought victory to the pro-life movement.
Participants spread across a section of the National Mall to hear speeches and later took part in a march, holding signs like “It’s a Child, Not a Choice,” “I Demand Protection at Conception,” and “I Am The Post-Roe Generation.”
The mention of being part of the “post-Roe generation” refers to the fact that, on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ruling that there’s no constitutional right to abortion and thus returning the regulation of abortion to the states. That decision effectively overturned the high court’s landmark decision on Jan. 22, 1973, in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, spoke at the event, calling it “a somber reminder of the millions of lives lost to abortion in the past 50 years, but also a celebration of how far we have come and where we as a movement need to focus our effort as we enter this new era in our quest to protect life.”
Some movement leaders hope to persuade congressional lawmakers to impose a federal abortion restriction in the future. Such a proposal would likely face stern opposition in the Democrat-held Senate.
One of those to speak at the rally was House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who encouraged participants to stay focused on “the mission” of extending protections for the unborn.
“You are showing us and giving us hope that the young people of America support life, defend life, are here to march for life,” Scalise said. “When you’re in a battle, it’s important to keep your focus on what the mission is. But every step of the way, it’s also critical that we celebrate victories along the way. And boy, did we get a huge victory just a few months ago when Roe was overturned.”
Elsewhere in Washington, President Joe Biden delivered a counterpoint by issuing a proclamation highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, praising it as a “balanced decision” that protected a “woman’s constitutional right to choose,” while denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn it as “extreme.”
“Today, trailblazers who fought heroically for the Roe v. Wade decision are watching the next generation grow up without its protections,” Biden said.
Biden said he would use his executive powers where possible to preserve abortion, while urging Congress to enshrine it in law.
Around 15 or so activists gathered outside the court building in a counter-protest to the pro-life march, holding signs of their own like “Bans off our Bodies,” “Stop Prosecuting Abortion,” and “I Will Aid & Abet Abortion.”
Since the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legality of abortion has become a matter for states to decide on, with around a dozen implementing near-total abortion bans.
In the run up to Friday’s March for Life, congressional Republicans issued a flurry of anti-abortion bills.
Republicans Introduce Anti-Abortion Bills
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) proposed a new draft bill on Friday that aims to defund Planned Parenthood by placing a one-year moratorium on federal funding to the organization.
“The nation’s largest abortion provider has no business receiving taxpayer dollars,” Boebert said in a Jan. 20 press release. “Planned Parenthood claims these funds go to healthcare for women, but last year, Planned Parenthood performed a record number of abortions while also reducing the number of well-woman exams and breast cancer screenings it performed.”
The bill, named “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2023” (pdf), aims to prohibit federal funds from being made available to the organization, or any of its affiliates or clinics, unless they certify that they will not perform abortions. Exceptions are made for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger.
Planned Parenthood replied to a request for comment from The Epoch Times by pointing to the organization’s response to prior “defund” initiatives, which states that such moves keep patients from receiving preventive services like birth control and screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) on Friday introduced the Teleabortion Prevention Act, which would mandate that individuals seeking an abortion pill must have a physical examination, take the medication on-site at the clinic, and attend a post-treatment visit.
“Abortion is always wrong under any circumstance but allowing women to have chemical abortions alone without ever being physically examined is outright dangerous,” Good wrote in a post on Twitter on Friday.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas.) on Friday introduced the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act and the Protecting Life on College Campus Act in their respective chambers.
The proposed Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act would prohibit doctors from performing abortions due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis and make it illegal for anyone to coerce a mother into having an abortion for this reason.
“Every life is created with God-given dignity and potential—no matter how small or how many chromosomes they may have,” Daines wrote in a tweet. “I’ll always fight to protect young moms and their unborn children from the violence of abortion.”
The Protecting Life on College Campus Act would bar colleges and universities that have abortion clinics targeted at students or staff, or have affiliations with such clinics, from receiving federal funding.
The Republicans’ pro-life legislation is likely to face opposition by Democrats and other groups that oppose curbs on access to abortions.