The 50th anniversary of the March for Life kicks off today, Jan. 20, approximately seven months following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the nation.
Follow along here for live updates of the march. All times are in U.S. Eastern Standard Time:
Jan. 20, 5:00 p.m.
As the 50th annual March for Life comes to a close, here are some highlights from the first march in a post-Roe America.
HIGHLIGHTS | Thousands gathered in our nation's capital for the 50th annual @March_for_Life and the first in a post-Roe America. Turn up the volume and hear the pro-life movement using their voices to defend the voiceless. #WhyWeMarchpic.twitter.com/OA2V0udm7U
All clear sounded on the suspicious package investigation, per Capitol Police. The area has reopened.
Jan. 20, 3:30 p.m.
U.S. Capitol Police report an ongoing investigation into a suspicious package at the Taft Memorial. Louisiana Avenue between New Jersey and Constitution Avenues NW and New Jersey Avenue between C and D Streets NW have been closed.
As of 3:52 p.m., Capitol Police are still investigating and the public is advised to avoid the area, which is just north of the Capitol Building, near Union Station.
The marchers' chants are different from previous years, as CNA's Katie Yoder reports.
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Pro-life marchers are chanting today: “Hey hey ho ho, abortion has got to go” (always before, it was “Hey hey ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go” — which, of course, is no longer relevant!). ⁰#WhyWeMarchpic.twitter.com/7AyptH3D7A
Pro-lifers fill the streets while marching with pro-life signs, as many chant pro-life slogans. Crowds marching towards the Supreme Court chanted “Hey hey ho ho, abortion has got to go.” The chant is a slight change from a yearly March for Life chant that typically goes: "Hey hey ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go."
Jan. 20., 1:40 p.m.
Crowds begin marching toward the Supreme Court. A different route will be used this year, passing the U.S. Capitol building.
Jan, 20, 1:21 p.m.
Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays the role of Jesus in the TV series “The Chosen,” approached the podium to roaring cheers from the crowd.
“God is real and he is completely in love with each and every one of you,” Roumie said.
“History has been made. Life has triumphed in an extraordinary way, and the light of world, who is Jesus Christ, the author of life, his light has burned so very brightly within each and every one of you, irrespective of your specific beliefs, compelling you forward for one reason or another to stand together today to fight for the worthiest and noblest cause possible — which is to allow the unborn the right to enter into the world, and defeat those earthly forces who seek to destroy the very evidence of them,” he added.
Roumie's full speech can be seen here. Seven interesting facts about the devout Catholic actor can be found here.
When asked what President Biden is willing to do to protect abortion rights, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a Friday press conference that “So look we’re going to take a look of the tools that the president has in front of him to see if there is any other executive actions clearly that he can take."
She said the administration support's the March for Life's right to peacefully demonstrate, but added that "we want to make sure that we continue to underscore the ongoing attacks on women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions."
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offers the White House response to the March for Life saying the Biden administration supports peaceful speech, but they “underscore the ongoing attacks on women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.” @EWTNNewsNightly@March_for_Lifepic.twitter.com/zC7RWly6Ct
The daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla spoke next. The saint, a doctor, became ill while pregnant with her fourth child and was encouraged to abort the baby in an attempt to save her own life. Molla chose life and passed away a few days after giving birth. In 1962, she died at 39 years old.
The saint’s daughter, also a doctor, Gianna Emanuela Molla, said: “I would not be here with all of you, if I had not been loved so much!”
“The gift of life is truly the greatest, the most precious, and the most sacred gift we always owed to honor, respect and defend!”
"I thank my parents for the gift of life. I would not be here with all of you if I had not been loved so much."
Sister Mary Casey O’Connor, SV, speaks with her twin sister, Casey Gunning, who has Down syndrome.
Casey Gunning said: “I came from all the way from Colorado to announce to America and to the whole world that life is good and that life is a gift!” The whole crowd cheered after she said that.
“Your child will be a blessing to you and to the world,” she said, referring to parents with children who have down syndrome.
“May God bless you,” both Gunning and O’Connor said at the end.
Jan. 20, 12:55 p.m.
Christina Francis, M.D., speaks next, talking about being pro-life in the medical field. Then Summer Smith, a student at Liberty University, speaks about the importance of supporting women in need, especially at crisis pregnancy centers.
“For me, being pro-life is personal,” she said, relaying the story of how she found out that one of her own siblings was aborted.
“Speak up about abortion in your family, your friend group, and on your campus. And speak up with love,” Smith said.
“Our faith must be well-reasoned and well-informed.”
Jan. 20, 12:44 p.m.
Tony Dungy, a professional football coach, father of 11, NFL analyst, adoptive dad, New York Times bestselling author, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, takes the stage. Dungy spoke about the recent health scare of NFL player Damar Hamlin, and the public outpouring of prayers that took place when it appeared that Hamlin's life was hanging in the balance.
Unborn babies are not as visible and well-known as famous athletes, Dungy said, but “those lives are still important to God, in God’s eyes.”
Saving their lives is “not the end of the story,” though — the mothers and babies need our help, he said. Dungy’s wife, Lauren, took the stage and spoke about their adoption experience, flanked by the couple’s now 21-year-old daughter.
“We are talking about lives,” Lauren said. “We need to pray for every woman who is in this situation ... we have to pray that we have enough adoptive families to pray for these precious lives.”
State Rep. Trenee McGee (D-Connecticut), a leading pro-life Democrat, takes the stage to decry the “systemically racist abortion industry” and passionately encouraged the crowd to advocate for policies that “not only protect life, but sustain life.”
“Pro-life for the whole life, baby,” she proclaimed, to loud applause.
Jan. 20, 12:33 p.m.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, encouraged all attendees to text “March” to 73075 to show their support for a new piece of legislation that would ban the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.
Jan. 20, 12:23 p.m.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), member of the House Pro Life Caucus, speaks. Scalise urged voters and young people soon to be able to vote to support pro-life candidates and lawmakers.
“We ought to continue to march. You know how much is at stake,” Scalise said.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), speaking next, said he attended the first March for Life, in 1974.
“This rally stirs us all to prayer and hard work, and inspires us to do more and more and more in defense of life,” Smith said.
Smith said the legality of abortion throughout pregnancy, as many states still allow, is a “barbaric” outlier on the world stage. He encouraged all those in attendance to continue to pray and advocate for an end to abortion.
“The injustice of abortion need not be forever, and because of you, it won’t be. God bless you,” Smith concluded.
Jan. 20, 12:15 p.m.
Lynn Fitch, the attorney general of Mississippi, takes the stage. Fitch made her case in favor of Mississippi’s 2018 abortion law in a written submission to the Supreme Court, leaving oral arguments to Mississippi solicitor general Scott Stewart. The court sided with Fitch and other critics, overturning Roe in a 5-3 decision. In her speech, Fitch spoke about the importance of supporting women and mothers, including advocating for workplace flexibility and other support systems.
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington leads the opening prayer. “Each of us has been given unique talents, passions, and roles to play in building a culture of life, where the beauty and dignity of every person is valued, celebrated, and protected,” the bishop said.
Jan. 20, 12:04 p.m.
Tameka Walden opens the ceremonies with the national anthem. Participants break spontaneously into chants of “USA.”
Jan. 20, 11:54 a.m.
In the crowd at the March for Life are a number of abortion survivors. One such survivor, Kim Marvin, told EWTN News Nightly about a bad dream she awoke from when she was 15 years old, and her mother’s message to her.
Among those marching at the @March_for_Life is a number of abortion survivors, grateful for every breath and the chance to tell their story. One such survivor, Kim Marvin, tells us about a bad dream she awoke from when she was 15 years old and her mother's message to her. pic.twitter.com/5Vp8nV13TI
Crowd on the Mall continues to grow. Speeches set to begin at noon.
Jan. 20, 11:19 a.m.
Sister Mary Casey O’Connor and Casey Gunning, twin sisters, will be addressing the crowd at the March for Life this afternoon. O’Connor is a member of the religious community Sisters of Life, while Gunning, who has Down syndrome, serves as a teacher’s assistant and an athlete in the Special Olympics. Read an interview with these joyful pro-life sisters and speakers.
Just ran into Sr. Mary Casey O'Connor of the Sisters of Life — and her twin sister, Casey Gunning, a teacher’s assistant and lifelong athlete in the Special Olympics!
President Joe Biden, a Catholic, issued a proclamation commemorating the defunct Roe v. Wade decision, calling it a "balanced decision with broad national consensus." The president, who disagrees with the Church's teaching on abortion and has taken steps to expand abortion access, called on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade.
"On what would have been the 50th anniversary of protections under Roe v. Wade, my Administration is resolute in its commitment to defending reproductive rights and continuing our Nation’s progress toward equality for all," Biden wrote.
Jan. 20, 10:47 a.m
Life Fest, a pre-march worship event put on by the Knights of Columbus and Sisters of Life, took place from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the D.C. Entertainment and Sports Arena.
The arena was packed with young people and high schoolers who are preparing for the March for Life. Photos from the event can be seen below.
Jan. 20, 10:23 a.m.
Over 550 students, faculty, and staff, from Christendom College, located in Front Royal, Virginia, are en route to the March for Life.
Excitement is in the air as more marchers appear in groups with pro-life signs near the March for Life rally stage.
Jan. 20, 10:10 a.m.
The crowd is slowing increasing by the March for Life rally stage, while people from pro-life organizations are walking around and handing out signs to marchers.
Jan. 20, 9:55 a.m.
Pilgrims don’t begin marching until 1 p.m.; however, crowds begin building much earlier than that. What is usually one of the coldest weeks in the year for the Washington, D.C., area, the weather is about 49 degrees and comfortably sunny, but with some wind chills.
Jan. 20, 9:44 a.m.
Media begins to circulate online of groups en route and arriving at the March for Life.
As pilgrims and visitors prepare to march on Washington, D.C., in support of life, some have wondered why the March for Life still continues despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Did you know that the March for Life has aspirations not only for pro-life laws but a pro-life culture? You can read more about that here as well as seven other interesting facts pro-lifers should know about this year’s March for Life.
Jan. 19, 5 p.m.
Thousands of pilgrims from across the nation gather at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., for the opening Mass in the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The main celebrant of the Mass was Bishop Michael Burbidge of the nearby Arlington Diocese.
Burbidge was recently elected to chair the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Beginning his homily, Burbidge said: “For the first time in the 49-year history of the March for Life, we can say that Roe v. Wade, a blight on our nation, our system of justice, and our culture is no more.”
People began clapping enthusiastically after he said this. Burbidge’s full comments, a message from Pope Francis to pilgrims, and interviews with pilgrims can be found here.
The basilica was filled with young people, including loads of high school and college students, many of whom have traveled to the basilica in preparation for the march.
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