WASHINGTON — Anti-abortion advocates marched Friday afternoon in Washington to celebrate the fall of Roe v. Wade on the eve of the landmark ruling’s 50th anniversary.
Anti-abortion activists have marched each year since 1973, when Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that granted a constitutional right to abortion, was established. This year the annual March for Life celebrates the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which led to the overturn of Roe, as a major victory for the anti-abortion movement.
“I’m grateful that Roe was overturned, but very aware that the work to build a culture of life is not yet done,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, told USA TODAY. “We are in a new season, where the people enjoy more freedom to enact laws to protect life, so our work to change hearts and minds is all the more important.”
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The march had the air of a pep rally, with drummers, and people chanting slogans. Many carried banners and waved flags, some adorned with the names of states, colleges and churches.
“My faith brings me out here,” said Vance Waller, 18, a high school senior from Charles Town, West Va., and one of a group of students holding up a big sign that read “West Virginia Teens For Life.” “It’s an incredible experience for me.”
Eight months after the Supreme Court delivered abortion opponents’ long-sought goal of reversing Roe, anti-abortion advocates conducted their annual march with a new objective: Lobbying lawmakers to stop abortions.
“We’re here to let our leaders on Capitol Hill know that the mission is not accomplished,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion organization Students for Life of America.
The theme of this year’s march is “Next Steps: Marching into a Post-Roe America.”
Organizers handed out signs that read slogans like “I am the Post-Roe Generation” and “Let Life Happen.” Others made their own signs, including one that referenced the Supreme Court decision itself: “On June 24, 2022, we officially became the Post-Roe generation.”
“There are things that need to be done on the federal level, as well as the state level,” said Sandy Forbes, 66, from Herndon, Va., who works with the organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “There are still many people fighting against life.”
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At a rally before the march, speaker after speaker, including state and federal elected officials urged marchers to keep pushing for legislation, both in Congress and in state legislatures across the country.
“We’ve got to continue this march,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.
Then protesters marched from the National Mall to Pennsylvania Avenue and up the hill to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The route was a departure from the usual march directly to the Supreme Court as a way to acknowledge Congress as a new focal point in the abortion debate.
Meanwhile, advocates for abortion access plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with marches across the country and an Atlanta summit bringing together over 20 leaders of organizations that advocate for abortion rights. As they mourn the fall of Roe, many of them are also reimagining abortion access in a post-Roe world.
“The Court got Roe right 50 years ago,” President Biden said in a proclamation on the anniversary adding: “I continue to call on the Congress to pass legislation to make those protections the law of the land once and for all.”
Back at March for Life, Sean Bradley, 60, a financier from Westchester County, N.Y., played the bagpipes as marchers strolled along 3rd Street within sight of the Capital dome. Dressed in a Scottish kilt, Bradley said he was pleased by the turnout.
“We got Roe vs. Wade overturned,” he said. “Now it’s on to the next thing.”