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After Roe, 50th March for Life a Turning Point for National, State Abortion Protests

“The pro-life movement has just experienced a major victory in the fall of Roe v. Wade, but our work to build a culture of life is far from complete,” she told Religion News Service in a statement. “Those next steps include working to advance legal protections for the unborn at the state and federal level, and the continuation of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC coupled with the expansion of the State March program.”

March for Life currently lists six state marches on its website — from California to Virginia — and other statewide events are continuing or planned by other anti-abortion groups.

State anti-abortion activists who spoke to RNS in the run-up to the national march said their work on the ground will continue, including their push to raise funds for pregnancy crisis centers that aid women with unexpected pregnancies and to offer support for both women and men who have been affected by decisions to have an abortion.

Tim Saccoccia, vice president of public policy for the Knights of Columbus and chairman of the board of the March for Life, said members of his Catholic fraternal organization in the western part of the country, who may not be able to make it to D.C., are excited about opportunities closer to home.

“It’s not really dividing or lessening the crowd we might see in Washington,” he predicted. “I think it’s growing the crowds we might see with people who are active across the board.”

President Donald Trump speaks at the March for Life rally on Jan. 24, 2020, on the National Mall in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In their permit application to the National Park Service, organizers for the march on the National Mall said they expected 50,000 demonstrators, matching their requests in the years immediately preceding COVID-19. In 2020, the year then-President Donald Trump addressed the march in person, their high estimate was 100,000 attendees. (In 2021, their permit request was for six people, to direct those who showed up despite its cancellation.)

“I don’t know what this year will be, but it doesn’t matter,” said Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and president of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, who will give this year’s closing prayer. ”It’s about standing for what’s right. Protecting life is the right thing to do. And even if you stand out there by yourself, it’s the right thing to do.”

Faith-based supporters of abortion rights are also highlighting the need for increased activism at the local and state levels, where several faith groups have already challenged abortion bans in the courts.

march for life
Sheila Katz, of the National Council of Jewish Women, speaks during demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Washington. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins

“We can’t cede any moral ground in this fight,” said Sheila Katz, head of the National Council of Jewish Women, at an online event this week organized by the activist group Faith in Public Life. “These are our rights and we need to claim them. And like Moses, we will be back again and again and again, until everyone can make their own moral and faith-informed decisions about their body, family and future.”

Katz’s group announced this week that it has raised $1 million to help patients pay for abortion care and related travel expenses for women in areas where access to abortion is limited.