On Jan. 22, with businesses in the city closing in anticipation of a winter storm hammering the east coast with up to three feet of snow, pro-lifers took part in the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
The March’s keynote speaker was former businesswoman and current candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Carly Fiorina, who said, “it’s inspiring to see you all out here even with Snowmageddon barreling down on us.” Many speakers referenced the storm in their speeches. When Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, asked the crowd, “is anyone cold out there?” she heard the unanimous response of marchers: “no!” She said, “a little snow couldn’t keep you away, could it?”
LifeSiteNews reported that the snow may have kept marchers away. It noted several observers said “about half as many people came to the 2016 March for Life” as attended the previous year’s march, “with weather playing a decisive role.
The New York Times reported that “hundreds” attended the March for Life, while the Washington Post reported “thousands” – a term LifeSite’s Steve Jalsevac described as unacceptably vague. Organizers put the number of marchers at 40,000, significantly below the 100,000s of thousands they usually attract but much larger than media claims.
A coalition of 17 pro-life organizations and two members of Congress along with the Media Research Center launched “the Alliance for Fair Coverage of Life Issues” campaign, but was disappointed in what they described as the systematically inaccurate, unfair, and poor coverage of the march.
On the dais, various religious leaders addressed the crowd. Jim Daly of Focus on the Family thanked “the Catholic community” for “leading the way” in the fight for life which has been joined by many evangelicals. “It has taken us awhile to get to the party, but we are with you.”
Patrick Kelly, the chairman of the March for Life, called the march the “most important human rights movement in the 21st century.” Many speakers tied the march’s theme of “Pro-life and pro-woman go hand in hand” into their remarks, and sought to claim the feminist mantle for pro-lifers. Fiorina said secular progressive elites “have perverted feminism into a left-leaning political ideology, where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win elections.” Former Cosmopolitan magazine writer Sue Ellen Browder said, “We are the new feminists of the 21st century … We are not afraid, and we are not going away.” Senator Joni Ernst (R, Iowa) said she would “reject” the notion that pro-life policies “constitute a war on women,” explaining that as a veteran, “I will remind them that I am a woman, and I have been to war and let me be clear, this is no war on women.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R, N.J) said, “someday soon, America will protect the weakest and most vulnerable. And into eternity, each and every one of you will have played a crucial part in that all-important human rights struggle.”
A contingent from Canada was stuck in Washington after their flight was cancelled due to snow, while Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes caught the last seat at 4:45 a.m. on the last plane before the storm closed the airport on the day of the March.
CLC vice president Jeff Gunnarson left the city by train, and LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s Alex Schadenberg also escaped before the blizzard shut down their transportation options.
A contingent of a dozen young peole with CLCL Youth were stuck in Washington for two extra days, with their flights repeatedly cancelled and delayed. While they waited, the CLC Youth group tweeted pictures of snowmen they built, holding pro-life signs.