WASHINGTON — One thing that always stands out in the annual marches and rallies in Washington and across the country marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion is the crowd.
"People are always surprised by the number of pro-lifers that show up in Washington and in their own state capitals," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.
"The crowds are getting bigger and bigger each year and have more young people, which is encouraging for the pro-life movement and a shock for those who think abortion should remain legal," she added.
And based on expected turnouts, this year will be no exception.
Tens of thousands of people from across the United States are expected to gather in the nation's capital Jan. 23 for this year's March for Life in Washington with the theme: "Unite on the life principles to overturn Roe v. Wade and with love protect mothers and preborn children — no exception, no compromise."
The event falls on a Monday, the day after the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, to allow participants to visit their representatives on Capitol Hill after a noon rally on the National Mall and a march along Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court.
Next year's march and rally in Washington is slated for Friday Jan. 25 because the Jan. 22 anniversary will fall on a Tuesday, the day after public ceremonies for the presidential inauguration, and organizers said they were not able to secure an adequate number of hotel rooms.
The night before this year's rally, March for Life organizers are planning a mini-rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House. They are also sponsoring a youth rally that night at a Washington hotel.
A capacity crowd of about 20,000 pilgrims is expected to fill the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life, which begins with a Jan. 22 vigil Mass.
Although Washington draws the biggest crowd making a stand against legalized abortion, similar events take place on a smaller scale across the country.
In Oregon, the Rally for Life is scheduled for Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2:30 pm. The rally will emphasize that life begins at conception and continues until natural death. Archbishop John Vlazny will speak at the rally. The Bishops of the United States have designated Jan. 22 of each year as a “particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.”
The youth group from St. Mary Parish in Corvallis will come to Portland for the Rally for Life, and they have invited the youth groups from other parishes to join them at Pioneer Courthouse Square.