March for Life 2023: Updates from Reporters on the Ground in Washington

Thousands of pro-lifers gather in Washington today to make their voices heard.

The crowd at the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
The crowd at the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C. (photo: Jonah McKeown/CNA / EWTN)

The 50th anniversary of the March for Life kicks off today, Jan. 20, approximately seven months following the supreme court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case which legalized abortion across the nation.

Follow along here for live updates of the march, all times are in U.S. Eastern Standard Time:

Jan. 20., 1:40 p.m.

Crowds begin marching toward the Supreme Court. A different route will be used this year, passing the U.S. Capitol building.

Jan, 20, 1:21 p.m.

Jonathan Roumie, the actor who plays the role of Jesus in the TV series “The Chosen,” approached the podium to roaring cheers from the crowd.

“God is real and he is completely in love with each and every one of you,” Roumie said.

“History has been made. Life has triumphed in an extraordinary way, and the light of world, who is Jesus Christ, the author of life, his light has burned so very brightly within each and every one of you, irrespective of your specific beliefs, compelling you forward for one reason or another to stand together today to fight for the worthiest and noblest cause possible — which is to allow the unborn the right to enter into the world, and defeat those earthly forces who seek to destroy the very evidence of them,” he added.

Roumie's full speech can be seen below:

Jan. 20, 1:15 p.m.

The daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla spoke next. The saint, a doctor, became ill while pregnant with her fourth child and was encouraged to abort the baby in an attempt to save her own life. Molla chose life and passed away a few days after giving birth. In 1962, she died at 39 years old. 

The saint’s daughter, also a doctor, Gianna Emanuela Molla, said: “I would not be here with all of you, if I had not been loved so much!”

“The gift of life is truly the greatest, the most precious, and the most sacred gift we always owed to honor, respect and defend!”

Jan. 20, 1:05 p.m.

Sister Mary Casey O’Connor, SV, speaks with her twin sister, Casey Gunning, who has Down syndrome.

Casey Gunning said: “I came from all the way from Colorado to announce to America and to the whole world that life is good and that life is a gift!” The whole crowd cheered after she said that.

“Your child will be a blessing to you and to the world,” she said, referring to parents with children who have down syndrome.

“May God bless you,” both Gunning and Sister O’Connor said at the end.

Jan. 20, 12:55 p.m.

Christina Francis, M.D., speaks next, talking about being pro-life in the medical field. Then Summer Smith, a student at Liberty University, speaks about the importance of supporting women in need, especially at crisis pregnancy centers.

“For me, being pro-life is personal,” she said, relaying the story of how she found out that one of her own siblings was aborted.

“Speak up about abortion in your family, your friend group, and on your campus. And speak up with love,” Smith said.

“Our faith must be well-reasoned and well-informed.”

Jan. 20, 12:44 p.m.

Tony Dungy, a professional football coach, father of 11, NFL analyst, adoptive dad, New York Times bestselling author, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, takes the stage. Dungy spoke about the recent health scare of NFL player Damar Hamlin, and the public outpouring of prayers that took place when it appeared that Hamlin's life was hanging in the balance.

Unborn babies are not as visible and well-known as famous athletes, Dungy said, but “those lives are still important to God, in God’s eyes.”

Saving their lives is “not the end of the story,” though — the mothers and babies need our help, he said. Dungy’s wife, Lauren, took the stage and spoke about their adoption experience, flanked by the couple’s now 21-year-old daughter.

“We are talking about lives,” Lauren said. “We need to pray for every woman who is in this situation ... we have to pray that we have enough adoptive families to pray for these precious lives.”

Jan. 20, 12:40 p.m.

State Rep. Trenee McGee, D-Conn., a leading pro-life Democrat, takes the stage to decry the “systemically racist abortion industry” and passionately encouraged the crowd to advocate for policies that “not only protect life, but sustain life.”

“Pro-life for the whole life, baby,” she proclaimed, to loud applause.

Jan. 20, 12:33 p.m.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, encouraged all attendees to text “March” to 73075 to show their support for a new piece of legislation that would ban the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.

Jan. 20, 12:23 p.m.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., member of the House Pro Life Caucus, speaks. Scalise urged voters and young people soon to be able to vote to support pro-life candidates and lawmakers.

“We ought to continue to march. You know how much is at stake,” Scalise said.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, speaking next, said he attended the first March for Life, in 1974.

“This rally stirs us all to prayer and hard work, and inspires us to do more and more and more in defense of life,” Smith said.

Smith also decried the continued instances of violence and intimidation against pro-life entities that have taken place since the Dobbs decision, and said they have heard merely “crickets” from the Justice Department in terms of arrests and prosecutions of the many documented crimes against pro-lifers.

Smith said the legality of abortion throughout pregnancy, as many states still allow, is a “barbaric” outlier on the world stage. He encouraged all those in attendance to continue to pray and advocate for an end to abortion.

“The injustice of abortion need not be forever, and because of you, it won’t be. God bless you,” Smith concluded.

Jan. 20, 12:15 p.m.

Lynn Fitch, the attorney general of Mississippi, takes the stage. Fitch made her case in favor of Mississippi’s 2018 abortion law in a written submission to the Supreme Court, leaving oral arguments to Mississippi solicitor general Scott Stewart. The court sided with Fitch and other critics, overturning Roe in a 5-3 decision. In her speech, Fitch spoke about the importance of supporting women and mothers, including advocating for workplace flexibility and other support systems.

“I’m proud to walk with each of you in this new Dobbs era,” she told the crowd. Read a full interview with Fitch here.

Jan. 20, 12:08 p.m.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington leads the opening prayer. “Each of us has been given unique talents, passions, and roles to play in building a culture of life, where the beauty and dignity of every person is valued, celebrated, and protected,” the bishop said.

Jan. 20, 12:04 p.m.

Tameka Walden opens the ceremonies with the national anthem. Participants break spontaneously into chants of “USA.”

Jan. 20, 11:54 a.m.

In the crowd at the March for Life are a number of abortion survivors. One such survivor, Kim Marvin, told EWTN News Nightly about a bad dream she awoke from when she was 15 years old, and her mother’s message to her.

Jan. 20, 11:19 a.m.

Sister Mary Casey O’Connor and Casey Gunning, twin sisters, will be addressing the crowd at the March for Life this afternoon. O’Connor is a member of the religious community Sisters of Life, while Gunning, who has Down syndrome, serves as a teacher’s assistant and an athlete in the Special Olympics. Read an interview with these joyful pro-life sisters and speakers.

Jan. 20, 11:14 a.m.

Music from the band We Are Messengers begins on the National Mall as marchers continue to congregate.

Jan. 20, 11:03 a.m.

President Joe Biden, a Catholic, issued a proclamation commemorating the defunct Roe v. Wade decision, calling it a "balanced decision with broad national consensus." The president, who disagrees with the Church's teaching on abortion and has taken steps to expand abortion access, called on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade.

"On what would have been the 50th anniversary of protections under Roe v. Wade, my Administration is resolute in its commitment to defending reproductive rights and continuing our Nation’s progress toward equality for all," Biden wrote.

Jan. 20, 10:47 a.m

Life Fest, a pre-march worship event put on by the Knights of Columbus and Sisters of Life, took place from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the D.C. Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The arena was packed with young people and high schoolers who are preparing for the March for Life. Photos from the event can be seen below.

Jan. 20, 10:23 a.m.

Over 550 students, faculty, and staff, from Christendom College, located in Front Royal, Virginia, are en route to the March for Life.

— Christendom College (@ChristendomVA) January 20, 2023And we are officially on our way to the @marchforlife!

550+ students, faculty, and staff are on buses right now, traveling from our campus in Front Royal, Virginia, to D.C.

Join us today as we march for the unborn. 🙏#WhyWeMarch #NextSteps

Jan. 20, 10:16 a.m.

Excitement is in the air as more marchers appear in groups with pro-life signs near the March for Life rally stage.

Jan. 19, 5:00 p.m.

Thousands of pilgrims from across the nation gather at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. for the opening Mass in the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The main celebrant of the Mass was Bishop Michael Burbidge of the nearby Arlington Diocese.

Bishop Burbidge was recently elected to chair the U.S. Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Pilgrims gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on Jan. 19 to pray for the unborn. Lauretta Brown

Pilgrims gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on Jan. 19 to pray for the unborn. Lauretta Brown

The basilica was filled with young people, including loads of high school and college students, many of whom have traveled to the basilica in preparation for the march.