March for Life and More: Nationwide Marches and Other Pro-Life Gatherings

As in past years, different locales have chosen different dates on which to hold their rallies.

Clockwise from top: Dominicans march for life in San Francisco in 2022, as the national March for Life looks ahead to  ‘Next Steps’ and pro-lifers gather at the Texas Rally for Life.
Clockwise from top: Dominicans march for life in San Francisco in 2022, as the national March for Life looks ahead to ‘Next Steps’ and pro-lifers gather at the Texas Rally for Life. (photo: Courtesy of Dennis Callahan, March for Life and TexasRallyforLife.org)

This year, the annual March for Life has gained rather than lost momentum as it continues with its 50th-annual March for Life after the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade

While this national march will again be held in Washington on Jan. 20, companion pro-life marches will also continue across the nation. As in past years, different locales have chosen different dates on which to hold their rallies.

Despite the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, the day the Church was celebrating the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pro-lifers agree these marches must continue. 

Erin Getz, the director of the State March for Life Program for the March for Life, explained an essential reason: “The March for Life’s ultimate goal is to change hearts and minds so that the injustice of abortion is someday not only illegal, but unthinkable. The overturning of Roe gave states the freedom to legislate on the abortion issue, so it’s important to advocate for pro-life protections on the state level, in addition to continuing our annual marches in Washington, D.C.”

On the day after the march in Washington, one of the largest companion rallies will take place in San Francisco, as the Walk for Life West Coast  holds its annual rally. “Last year we were still coming out of the pandemic, and we only had about 15,000 people. We expect many more this year,” Eva Muntean, co-chair of Walk for Life West Coast, told the Register. This year’s walk is especially significant because California is not a pro-life state. 

Also on Jan. 21, pro-lifers will gather in force in Los Angeles for OneLife LA under the banner of “Our Mission Is Love.”

Among the prominent state-level events, there will be two major rallies in Texas. On Jan. 14, the North Texas March for Life, sponsored by the Catholic Pro-Life Community/Pro-Life Dallas, the Diocese of Fort Worth and Texans for Life will again take place in Dallas.

“Texas was where it all started, so Texas still leads the way. It’s important for us to be there since this struggle continues,” Geralyn Kaminsky, executive director of Catholic Pro-Life Community, told the Register. This year the organizers expect a significant crowd, she said, “celebrating the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and also continuing to march for the culture of life.”

“We’ve inherited a broken culture, and we must restore the family,” Kaminsky explained. “We are making a difference, and we celebrate where we are, but we aren’t done. We will continue to stand for life through prayer, through this march for life, and through our witness to show the opposition that we won’t give up.” Included in the activities will be the Youth for Life Memorial and Mass “so that the fundamental message of life is passed along to youth, who are the Church,” she said.

For this rally, Susan Platt, the prayer and community outreach director of Catholic Pro-Life Community, mentioned the encouraging and positive responses coming in ahead of the event. “We have always had an ecumenical partnership with all pro-life organizations for this march, so to see this interest and support has been a real blessing,” she said. “And, of course, the blessings of having our shepherds who lead by example” is a major plus, she said, noting that Bishop Edward Burns and Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly of the Dallas Diocese will attend.

Platt also pointed out that major highlights will include the youth who will be there “to celebrate and march” plus “a large representation of all faiths in this event and four passionate speakers to highlight pro-life work and belief.”

On Jan. 28, at the Texas Capitol in Austin, the Texas Rally for Life 2023, organized by the Texas Alliance for Life, again expects a large contingent. Abortion Survivor Claire Culwell is one of the scheduled speakers.

According to Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life (TAL), the Texas Rally for Life has been an annual event for more than three decades. As for past rallies, thousands of people from across the state are again expected to attend.

“Since Roe has fallen, Texas’ pre-Roe laws and the Texas Human Life Protection Act completely protect unborn babies from abortion. We wish to demonstrate to our elected officials and to the media in our state that Texas remains pro-life,” Pojman told the Register. He listed three messages the TAL and the march wish to convey: “The unborn child is a baby worthy of protection. Abortion hurts, not helps, women and families. Texas provides vast resources for women with unplanned and planned pregnancies.”

Pojman has seen great positive reaction to the upcoming rally, with 35 organizations already part of the host committee and planned buses coming from more than a dozen cities and counting. He pointed out that the rally will be streamed on the alliance’s Facebook and Youtube accounts, and several radio stations throughout Texas are expected to broadcast the event. Last year, both Protestant and Catholic stations broadcast the rally, including several that carry EWTN programming.

The Arizona March for Life, another arm of the March for Life, will hold its state rally on Feb. 23 at the capitol in Phoenix. As in other states, the Arizona March for Life plans to continue educating people “on the inherent dignity of every person, both at the state and federal level”; spokesperson for Arizona, the March for Life’s Getz finds that people are already reacting to the upcoming march with great enthusiasm and excitement.

“Our marchers appreciate the opportunity to witness to their elected representatives for the unborn,” she explained, describing how “our joyful, peaceful and resilient pro-life marchers will demonstrate to Arizona state legislators that we will not rest until all life is valued and protected by the law.” She sees this event as both a celebration in light of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, “while simultaneously looking towards the work that lies ahead for the pro-life movement, especially in passing pro-life protections within the Arizona State Legislature.”

In the Midwest, this year a major rally is changing names and hopes to attract even more marchers than in the past: The former March for Life Chicago is now named the Illinois March for Life. Another change is the location. The march is moving from Chicago to Springfield, the state capital. The new date for this year’s event is March 21.

For the past 10 years, this rally and march has been unifying pro-lifers in the Midwest, and this year will be no different, as the groups supporting the march include, among others, Illinois Right to Life, Illinois Knights of Columbus, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Right to Life, and weDignify.

Anna Kinskey, executive director of weDignify, who partners with the other organizations to oversee the Illinois March for Life, explained the importance of continuing this march and the necessary change of location. “Since Roe was overturned, state abortion laws matter more than ever before. In the last six years, lawmakers in Springfield passed the Repeal of Parental Notification (2021), the Reproductive Health Act which allows abortion through all nice months, removed health inspections of abortion clinics, and H.B. 40, Taxpayer Funding of Abortion (2017). Illinois’ state laws are detrimental to preborn lives across the Midwest, so we have moved to march where those egregious laws were made, the state capital, Springfield.”

She said that the organizers are calling all Midwesterners to join in the effort for life. “We expect thousands to join us in advocating for life directly to Illinois legislators.”

Thus far, the responses have been “overwhelmingly positive,” she noted, as people are showing “great excitement to be marching in Springfield, especially in this first post-Roe year.” Pro-lifers recognize that much work still needs to be done, “especially as legislators try to push even more extreme pro-abortion legislation in the lame-duck session.”

Kinskey pointed out that highlights for this first Illinois March for Life will include bringing “the Midwest together to advocate for life directly to our legislators,” including meeting with them during the day.

The following day, on March 22, the Connecticut March for Life will be held at the Connecticut Capitol in Hartford. According to organizers, it appears to be shaping up as the biggest pro-life advocacy event in the state’s history. Chris Healy, executive director for the Connecticut Catholic Conference, pointed out that last year 3,000 marchers took part, making it one of the largest events held at the capitol. This year, the goal is to exceed that number.

“We are focusing on making a statement in support of life that will be heard loud and clear by our legislators,” Healy told the Register. “Our message of love for unborn children and their mothers will be heard by every member of the legislature as they come to Hartford that day.”

He added that as the Dobbs decision “brings the fight for life back to the states,” the organizers and people see “a major opportunity to bring those voices to the legislators in Hartford. While Connecticut is a pro-choice state, we realize the abortionists will try for a state constitutional amendment. We welcome this fight. There will be no negotiation over life. We also will be pressing for parental notification for minors seeking the taking of life.” 

Healy reported that the state reaction is strong, as people realize that “we must now bring our voices to Hartford.” The efforts for the march also includes support from Protestants, Baptists, evangelicals, Mormons and others “who share our conviction that all life is sacred and must be protected.” He also sees an encouraging and “very strong sign” in how many younger people from several faiths plan to speak and participate.

Looking further ahead to fall, the Ohio March for Life will be held Oct. 6. Nilani Jawahar, legislative liaison at the Center for Christian Virtue, explained that the date was chosen because October precedes the general election and makes it a good time to help pro-lifers be informed.

She shared the anticipation with the Register. “We are expecting an even bigger turnout for the 2023 Ohio March for Life. There is so much passion for the pro-life movement — especially among young people — and we are thrilled to see it. Our hope is that many more Catholic and Christian schools will bring busloads of students out to downtown Columbus this fall to learn about civic engagement and raise their voices in support of life.” 

While the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a huge victory worth celebrating, Jawahar said there is “much work still to be done to foster a culture of life. In Ohio, we marched last fall partly because we wanted to take the time to give God the glory for the end of Roe — something many have prayed for so long — but also because we wanted those in power to know that we are not done.” Ohio’s pro-life movement will not rest until “we live in a state where every baby is not only legally protected, but also cherished and valued for the precious gift that they are.”

Pro-life and abortion-rights activists protest during the 50th-annual March for Life rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 20 in Washington.

Pro-Abortion Counter-Protesters at March for Life Were Few but Loud

Only about a dozen pro-abortion protesters stood in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and only a few others were scattered within the march and on the outskirts of the march; some of the counter-protesters did manage to cause disruptions, and a few had verbal clashes with pro-life activists.