National Catholic Register


March Adds White House Vigil

There was a new element at this year's March for Life in Washington: a flashlight vigil outside the White House to pray for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


Register Correspondent

February 14-27, 2010 Issue | Posted 2/8/10 at 2:00 AM


WASHINGTON — Debi Keatts knows the idea that President Obama could change his views on abortion and become a defender of the lives of the unborn may appear impossible. But she also knows that God has answered even more long-shot prayers.

“I always have hope,” Keatts told the Register during the first-time prayer vigil across from the White House on the eve of the annual Jan. 22 March for Life.

Keatts joined several hundred other pro-life activists who gathered on a below-freezing evening in Lafayette Park across from the White House to pray, sing and beseech the commander in chief to defend the most vulnerable lives in the nation.

“You are the living memorial to the ongoing holocaust and murder that has beset this nation,” Michael Voris, a founder of, told attendees.

Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, said the group has added the vigil to its annual pro-life march to try to draw this president’s attention to the impacts of abortion.

The march itself was one of the best-attended in many years. The Register’s film critic and blogger Steven D. Greydanus said that “numerous police officers on the ground” told him that attendance was significantly higher than last year’s record-breaking level, which many agree was roughly 300,000.

“One officer seemed a bit worn out by the sheer size of the crowd and the length of the time it took the whole march to get up Constitution Avenue,” Greydanus wrote on his Register blog. “All I know is it took me from 2:00 to 4:45 to get from the rally site to the Supreme Court building — a distance of about a half-dozen blocks.”

The night before, Nellie Gray and other speakers were critical of Obama’s call for “common ground” on abortion, even as he has instituted stridently pro-abortion policies that include lifting a ban on federal funding for overseas abortions as one of his first actions in office.

Gray was one of several speakers who called for pro-life activists to ensure that Obama becomes “the most prayed-for president in history.”

Ryan Scott Bomberger told attendees that their prayers are needed to especially save black people, who are aborted at the highest rate in the nation.

“I am half white and half black, just like President Obama, and abortion is wiping out black people,” Bomberger said.

He is one of several speakers who urged pro-life activists to combine their prayers with actions to change the hearts and minds of the American public. Bomberger’s efforts include a Georgia billboard campaign to educate the public about the severe impact of abortion on black people in the state.

Other efforts highlighted at the rally included an ongoing push to elect pro-life officeholders. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., told attendees that the pro-life position is becoming stronger in both parties because supporters of life have become more active in the electoral process.

“Pro-life candidates will run stronger and stronger as time goes on,” Franks said.

Until Congress and state legislatures become more pro-life, he said, attendees should continue praying to change the heart of “the most radically pro-abortion president in the history of the United States.”

Rich Daly writes

from Washington.