Organizers say at least 200,000 pro-life citizens, including many from Canada, braved the freezing cold weather to take part in the March for Life in Washington D.C., marking the 30th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, on Jan. 22.
Despite media guesses of the number of pro-lifers attending the march being anywhere from “a few thousand” to “tens of thousands,” Nellie Gray, organizer of the march, said the official estimate was 200,000. Furthermore, a television cameraman who talked to The Interim said the official estimate was much closer to the truth than media reports had it.
Lowering the estimated number of demonstrators is one form of media bias, and Gray said the low-balling of attendance figures for the march is nothing new. The Media Research Centre, which documents media bias, said, “True to the historical pattern, and despite the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, ABC, CBS, and NBC studiously ignored the March for Life in Washington, a stark contrast with the Bush-bashing anti-war march just four days before.”
In a special expose of network news bias, the MRC’s Tim Graham said, “Despite having so many fewer participants, the peace marchers garnered 26 segments on the three network morning and evening news programs, whereas the pro-life marchers received just nine.”
Of particular concern, Graham pointed to how two networks misled viewers about the number of activists in Washington. NBC’s Today morning program misled viewers by merging the pro-life rally of “tens of thousands” with the pro-abortion rally, which attracted about 100 activists. The same tactic was used by CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who claimed, “Tens of thousands of demonstrators on both sides of the issue filled the streets of Washington today.”
MRC also reported ABC and CBS both ignored President George W. Bush’s telephoned speech to the crowd.
During that speech, Bush said, “Thank you very much for including me in the celebration of life. I want to thank the good folks there on the Mall today … I admire your perseverance and I admire your devotion to the cause of life. Respect for the right to life calls us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, and all who are weak and vulnerable. And this self-evident truth calls us to value and to protect the lives of innocent children waiting to be born.”
The crowd thundered with applause.
“You and I share a commitment to building a culture of life in America,” Bush continued, “and we’re making progress. As the president, I have signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, opposed the destruction of embryos for stem cell research, and refused to spend taxpayer money on international programs that promote abortion overseas … We support abstinence education, and crisis pregnancy programs, and parental notification laws. We offer compassionate alternatives to abortion by promoting adoption and extending state healthcare coverage for unborn children. My hope is that the United States Congress will pass a bill this year banning partial-birth abortion, which I will sign.”
Bush’s speech contrasted sharply with comments made by the six candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination at a NARAL Pro-choice America meeting. All six candidates pledged their support for abortion. Representative Dick Gephardt said, “The sanctity of a woman’s right to control her own destiny is a moral force of its own.”
But the NARAL events attracted merely a few hundred supporters, compared the 200,000 pro-lifers who came to Washington.
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, attended the march for at least the eighth time and said that the event was “unbelievable.”
Hughes reported, “We were standing at the staging area and we couldn’t move. It took almost an hour to start walking. It was the coldest day in 10 years in Washington, but we were kept warm by a sea of bodies. Everyone was upbeat and positive, with the average age under 25. It was a joyful mass of people talking, praying, chanting … a very positive experience.”
Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, said in a press release that the crowd was enthusiastic. “Most encouraging to me were the thousands of young people who turned out to take a stand for the sanctity of life. Despite 30 years of pro-abortion propaganda and indoctrination, young Americans are embracing a culture of life and rejecting the lies of the abortion industry.”
Connor said it was just a matter of time until pro-lifers win the battle. “Abortion is an offence against both God and man. It will not prevail.”