.- Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life on Jan. 24. People of all ages filled the streets, including a large number of young adults who came to show their support for the dignity of all human life.
Catholic colleges from around the country were represented at the March, in addition to pro-life groups from secular colleges. Diocesan groups, families and individuals also came from near and far to march along the National Mall in commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
In addition to marching, young people were also encouraged to participate in a new nationwide poll launched by the pro-life advocacy group Heroic Media. Mobile billboards and representatives in the crowd encouraged marchers to text their responses to poll questions about abortion.
Poll participants were asked factual questions about how many unborn children have been killed since Roe v. Wade and what ethnic neighborhoods house the largest number of Planned Parenthood clinics. They were also asked questions of opinion, including whether they think that the mainstream media should do more to promote the heroism of motherhood and whether they think embryonic stem cell research should continue.
Lacy de la Garza, age 22, organized a trip to the March for Life for a group of her classmates at the University of Dallas. “I really felt that as everything is getting more heated in the legal system and in the courts, I wanted UD students to be able to be involved,” she told CNA.
De la Garza has attended the March for Life three times and believes that the annual event is making a difference in America. “I don’t think it’s well-publicized enough in the mainstream media, but I do think it shocks D.C. into seeing how important this is, and I think that’s the first step to change,” she said.
“There are many reasons that women get abortions, but I think that all women are naturally pro-life, and that is shot down in them through the culture,” she said. “No woman really wants what abortion is.”
Grace Gniewek, age 18, was one of many students from Christendom College who attended the March for Life. The nearby Virginia college closed down for the day, canceling all classes and chartering buses to transport the entire student body to the March. Gniewek said that she and her classmates came “to show that we are of one heart and one mind, and that we won’t stand for these injustices.”
Women were not the only young participants represented in the March. The event also drew large numbers of young men. Jake Barakat, 20, told CNA that this was his nineteenth time attending the March for Life.
Barakat explained that men play an important role in the pro-life movement. “As husbands, boyfriends and friends of women, it’s important for men to support life,” he said. “We need to help women through the difficult times in their lives, showing them our stance, and showing them that they’re not alone.”
Marcellino Dambrosio, age 23, agreed, calling abortion a “problem of manhood in America.”
“We live in a hook-up culture. There is no permanence to relationships. People want pleasure without responsibility,” he said. “This is a man’s problem too. It’s everyone’s problem.”
Dambrosio said that attending the March has influenced his understanding of the pro-life movement. “The media doesn’t cover this very much. Seeing this on TV is not the same as being here,” he said.
Dambrosio said that he was especially touched by the Vigil Mass that was held on the evening before the March, particularly the procession of priests at the beginning, which took over half an hour.
“This Church is strong. This movement is strong,” he said.