WASHINGTON – Clad in neon green scarves and carrying anti-abortion signs,200 members of the Vanderburgh County (Ind.) Right to Life chapter marched through the streets of Washington on Friday.
About half of the group was from local high schools and colleges,said Mary Ellen Van Dyke,executive director of the chapter. Students from schools such as the University of Evansville,University of Southern Indiana and North High School joined the tens of thousands of people who marched to the steps of the Supreme Court to showcase their anti-abortion message.
“The students believe in the sanctity of human life,and they want to stand here together with hundreds of thousands of other pro-life people and represent the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves,the unborn and those who have lost their lives to abortion,” Van Dyke said.
People of all ages from across the country turned out in force at the March for Life to acknowledge the 37th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The ruling handed down Jan. 22,1973,gave women the right to all early term abortions and late-term abortions with restrictions.
The National Mall was jammed with people,and the crowd spilled into surrounding streets and alleyways.
A group of about 60 abortion-rights proponents met the anti-abortion march on the Supreme Court steps. The two groups shouted slogans at each other. As of late afternoon,police reported no arrests.
The Vanderburgh chapter of Right to Life is one of the largest in the country,boasting about 50,000 members. The group also holds the largest Right to Life banquet in the country,drawing 3,000 last year to hear a speech by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The group has been organizing trips to the March for Life for 20 years,Van Dyke said.
Approximately 20,000 people attended the first March for Life in 1974,according to the march's Web site. In the past few years,the march has been attracting more than 200,000 participants,according to the Web site.
An increasing number of the marchers are young people,especially from college organizations,said Olivia Gans,director for American Victims of Abortion at a press conference held Thursday by the National Right to Life Committee.
“States have sent busloads and truckloads of young men and women,” she said,noting National Right to Life has affiliates in all 50 states.
Jessica Kempf,an 18-year-old Mater Dei High School senior,thought at least half the marchers were college-age or younger.
“It's very moving to see all the people that are out here supporting pro-life,being against abortion,” she said. This was her third year attending the march through her school's Teens for Life group
Fellow senior Megan Schneider,17,said if more teens knew about the March for Life,more would take a stand on the issue.
“It's awesome that people my age can stand up for something like this and make a difference,” she said. “It gives me hope for the future.”