This year will be the 48th annual March for Life, which brings Americans together from across the country to publicly declare their support for life.
Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, recently shared in an interview with The Daily Citizen about how the march has faced many challenges over the years, including this year with COVID, but will continue to shine a light on the issue of abortion.
“Of course, because of COVID, we are going to look a little bit different,” Mancini said. “We have marched every single year (since 1974), and, as you can imagine over that many years, we’ve had different obstacles. So this isn’t the first year we’ve had an obstacle, and, in fact, it seems like most years there’s some obstacle.
“Those have included historically some pretty massive blizzards, there was a big blizzard in 2016 and one in 1996. Once our staff got snowed into a hotel for a few nights. We literally couldn’t move. We’ve also had subzero temperatures, we’ve had government shutdowns, we marched after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, so we will march again this year, in person.”
But as with so many things involving COVID, marchers will experience something a bit different this year. All marchers will be asked to wear masks, with the March for Life providing many, and there will be hand sanitizing stations set up as well.
“We’ll also have more of a robust virtual component, understanding that not everyone will be able to come and march in person,” Mancini shared. “And we have different protocols in place to make sure that marchers remain safe or do our best to assure that. We strongly encourage marchers to comply with their state and local regulations on COVID and the protocols.”
The March for Life, in an effort to protect those attending, have either cancelled their indoor events or moved them online. For example, this year the Rose Dinner will be entirely virtual, with Tim Tebow as the speaker.
“Our only in-person event is the most important event, the actual rally and march itself, which is all outdoors,” Mancini explained.
Some may question why the march should go forward, considering the ongoing pandemic and the political strife that has engulfed the country
“Why is it so important to march? Because we are drawing a line in the sand for the taking of the most vulnerable lives out there,” Mancini said. “We march because every single year there are over 800,000 Americans lost to abortion, and we’ve become a bit desensitized to what that looks like and what that means. But that’s actual human lives that are lost every year. So we march in the public square to take a stand against that human rights abuse, and to do everything possible to make abortion unthinkable so that we don’t need to march anymore.
“We also march for the men and women who carry the war wounds of abortion. We know that when a life has been taken that at least one is wounded and that one life is taken, a life that has been conceived and had purpose is destroyed. That is very sad. And we want those that carry the war wounds, which are many, to find healing and hope in Christ. There are all sorts of critical reasons why we march,” Mancini said.
For those that are planning on tuning in in-person or virtually, there will be an amazing host of pro-life speakers who will encourage and inspire during these seemingly dark times.
“One of the people that I’m most looking forward to hearing from is Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly,” Mancini shared. “He is one of my favorite pro-life leaders who I just so respect and enjoy on a personal level. I hold he and his wife in such high esteem and I’m so happy to have Jim speaking.
“We’ve also got some other phenomenal speakers and leaders,” Mancini shard. “Tim Tebow will be speaking this year, and we’re really excited to have him. Cissy Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of Billy Graham and the daughter of Franklin Graham, will be speaking and doing our closing prayer. Ben and Kirsten Watson, who have a fun podcast, will be speaking together. We will also have J.D. Greer, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, Lila Rose, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, really just a huge grouping of luminaries in this field. We’ll be hearing all sorts of messages of hope, strength and courage as we move forward in this time.”
Though the crowd will be small this year, there are still a large number of people who have made the decision to come in person to march.
“Just yesterday, I was on the phone with Monsignor James Shae who is the president of a school in North Dakota (University of Mary), and they’re flying a bunch of students out for the March for Life. On Saturday, I was speaking to my 92-year-old uncle, who lives in a retirement community, who says to me, ‘Jeanne, my only risk factor is my age, of course I can come,’” Jeanne said.
“From personal to schools to what have you, people are still making extraordinary sacrifices to come and march, but the majority of people will be virtual. We don’t anticipate huge crowds this year, but I’ve been blown away by the amount of people who will be coming in person.”
There has been some criticism about the March for Life still being held in person this year and concerns that the changing administration the week before that the march could face a legal challenge, but Mancini and her team are prepared.
“Our board voted unanimously in September that we needed to march in person,” Mancini explained. “Certainly, we wouldn’t want to push anyone who felt more comfortable doing this virtually, we are beefing up our virtual presence, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised with this administration if we run into some problems and have to take some legal action before the march.”
For those that are staying at home, they can participate in many ways, including sharing their stories of adoption, an abortion decision or about a sibling who has Down syndrome through the #WhyWeMarch.
“There are so many beautiful stories,” Mancini said. “Telling the stories is one of the best ways to influence our culture to make abortion unthinkable. We encourage you to tell your story about why you are pro-life and to have a lot of hope, knowing that the victory is won. In the end, we know that God has this, even in a dark time administratively with policy and politics. But we know that God has won, but the importance of us sharing the beauty and the truth of the life message is critical.”
Photo from March for Life