.- More than 100,000 Americans converged on the nation's capital for the March for Life yesterday. The event marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and called for a culture of life in America. Marchers from across the country and from various ages, backgrounds and political views, sang, prayed and shared their views against abortion.
Numerous college student groups, including three busloads from Notre Dame and Princeton universities, also participated. Before the March for Life began, more than 22,000 youth and young adults packed the MCI Center for a pre-march rally.
Prior to the march, thousands of others gathered near Congress to hear pro-life speakers. Among them were women who had abortions and who spoke about how it impacted their lives in ways they had not anticipated.
Numerous women lined up on and around the main podium from the Silent No More Awareness campaign with signs saying, "I Regret My Abortion."
"They are proof that there is reconciliation and there is hope," said Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and leading pro-life member of Congress. "We are so glad to have the women of Silent No More here with us on the stage. Their testimony gives witness to the lie that the other side puts forth, that abortion is pro-woman."
President George Bush also called and spoke with marchers shortly before they left a pre-march rally.
"We're sending a clear message to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy: We love you, we love your child, and we're here to help you," Bush said. The president referred to numerous pieces of pro-life legislation he has signed and renewed his call for a ban on human cloning and for Congress to pass a measure respecting parental involvement laws.
"Because human life is a gift from our Creator and should never be used as a means to an end, we will not sanction the creation of life only to destroy it," he said
Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, who was euthanized by her husband last year, also addressed the crowd. He and his parents, Bob and Mary, received an award from the National Pro-Life Religious Council at their event, held earlier in the U.S. Senate Russell Building Caucus Room.
At the National Memorial, Rev. Rob Schenck and other speakers emphasized the social and political shift in favor of life. Steven Paroutka of the National Pro-Life Action Center said the change signals the beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade, sparking a thunderous standing ovation. More than 50 clergy representing numerous denominations led in prayers and the reading of Scripture, including Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
Marches were held across the country. In San Francisco, more than 15,000 pro-life advocates marched, and more than 6,000 pro-life advocates demonstrated in St. Paul, Minn. Over 1,000 people attended a South Carolina rally in Columbia, and 400 turned out for a Boise, Idaho rally.