Dyllan Harrington, a protest participant, told CNA that he was moved by the testimonies of the speakers, who each "had a story of a personal experience to tell."
He explained that he was driven to attend the protest by Santangelo's comments, because "when infanticide is acceptable it's just proof that abortion is murder – it's something that's inhuman and cruel."
Other participants explained that the Catholic chaplaincy at George Washington University has gathered with students every week for years to pray the rosary outside of the clinic.
Lisa Campbell, a student at the university, said that many students "don't know there's an abortion clinic on campus." The public protest helped draw attention the clinic's presence, she observed, noting that "it was nice to see the students stop as they walked by and take note of what's going on."
Some counter-protesters also appeared at the event. Freshman Alicia Little told CNA that while she had not heard of Santangelo or Gosnell, she knew "that there have been protests here before" and thought that it was important for "both sides to be represented" at the event.
"I just personally think that it should be a person's choice to have an abortion or to have a baby at all," said Little, adding that she believes that "it should be available whenever" and that "any reason is a valid reason" to abort.
Fr. Greg Shaffer, Catholic chaplain at George Washington University, told CNA that while he has become accustomed to seeing evil over the past 20 years of involvement in the pro-life movement, "this goes to another level."
"To defend infanticide – you can't do it," said Fr. Shaffer, adding that he was "very happy" at the prospect of the abortionist's possible removal from campus.
"It's really an answer to our prayers and we know that something is happening here," he said.