Thousands of people stood up for the unborn on Saturday at the March for Life in London.

The ninth annual march processed through the city of Westminster in London and ended at the Houses of Parliament.

Law enforcement estimated about 7,000 people attended the march, according to a press release from March for Life UK. 

In 2021, there were 214,256 abortions in England and Wales, according to the U.K. government’s website. Abortion was legalized in England, Scotland, and Wales under the Abortion Act in 1967. In 2022, Parliament voted to permanently allow women in England and Wales to self-administer both abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, without first visiting a hospital or clinic. 

At-home abortions were previously allowed under a temporary status. 

A law passed in February makes it illegal for any person within 150 meters (about 500 feet) of an abortion clinic to influence a woman’s decision to “access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services at an abortion clinic.”

The March for Life included training sessions on how to engage with the public on the issue of abortion were offered. Attendees sang songs and pro-life chants and held signs as they marched for life, the organization said. 

“Abortion destroys the freedom to live,” one sign said. “Life from conception, no exception,” another sign said. Many signs shown in photos online included religious imagery, including depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

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A number of counterprotesters were present as well. One video circulating on social media shows a counterprotester making a vulgar hand gesture to a pro-life attendee who appears to be a priest. 

He can be heard responding “I love you.”

Religious leaders from different denominations participated in the rally, including those from the Catholic Church. Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster John Sherrington, Bishop Richard Moth of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, Bishop John Keenan of the Diocese of Paisley in Scotland, and the ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham Monsignor Keith Newton were in attendance. 

With a theme “Freedom to Live,” the human rights demonstration was codirected by Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who was arrested in December 2022 for praying outside a Birmingham abortion clinic. 

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Vaughan-Spruce in February was acquitted of charges related to a local order that censors speech in the area around abortion clinics.

She was arrested for violating the same order by praying in front of an abortion clinic weeks later. 

Vaughan-Spruce told CNA on Tuesday that she is still waiting to hear if charges will be pressed against her and that she is still praying outside the abortion clinic on a weekly basis. 

“On the second time I was arrested I was told my prayers were an offense. I’ll tell you what is offensive. That our country has the highest-ever abortion figures, 100,000 of them annually being repeat abortions and the only response we see happening in our government is a clamp down on those who peacefully offer alternatives to pregnant women,” Vaughan-Spruce said in a speech at the march.

Father Sean Gough  — a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham — also addressed a group of young people at the march. Gough was charged and later acquitted this past year for breaking a local censorship order on free speech for holding a sign that said “praying for free speech” near a Birmingham abortion clinic. 

March for Life UK said in its release that a young woman’s talk about the regret she experienced after having three abortions were “the most moving words of the day” even though pro-abortion counterprotesters were trying to “shout her down.”

“I think I can speak for every post-abortive woman [standing] here today that abortion didn’t grant us freedom but made us captives in one way or another,” the young woman, Ellie, said. 

The March for Life in the U.K. will be back for its 10th anniversary next year. Codirector of the march Ben Thatcher said at the event that his hope is for the march to reach 10,000 attendees, according to the press release.