If there's anything you need to know about March for Life, it's that conservatives and religious activists don't plan on letting up with their pro-life views any time soon. The past few years have seen a whirlwind of different movements that have garnered national attention, and this one will surely have the same effect. With the annual event just a day away, an increasingly large amount of people are wondering, "what is the March For Life?"
The March for Life is the country's largest anti-abortion rally, drawing in hundreds of thousands of protesters a year, according to Vox. The march's website calls the event a "voice for the voiceless!" which refers to unborn children. This year's 45th March for Life, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 19, will kick off with a rally that is scheduled for noon at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Following the rally, the march will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Constitution Avenue.
There will be a number of high-profile speakers. Vice President Mike Pence, who also attended the march last year, spoke at a reception before the march on Thursday night. And President Donald Trump is scheduled speak directly to the march, addressing it from the White House Rose Garden, according to USA Today. He's the first president to do so in the event's decades-long history.
It's not terribly surprising that Pence and Trump are speaking.
Both have a solid history of anti-abortion views that can be traced back to Trump's presidential campaign. In March 2016, when asked what would happen to women who had abortions if they were made illegal, Trump said, "there has to be some form of punishment," causing a national stir of criticism among pro-choice activists.
And as president, he's done more. For example, in January 2017, Trump reinstated an executive order to reinstate the global gag rule, preventing U.S. foreign aid from funding non-governmental organizations (NGO) that either provide abortion services, or even discuss the option. The move prevents global health organizations from offering services like HIV treatment, maternal health care, and Zika virus prevention, according to Vox. On April 13, 2017, Trump signed a bill that gives states the option to withhold federal funding from organizations that provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood, repealing regulations implemented by the Obama administration. And on Jan. 18 of this year, his administration announced the Conscience and Religious Freedom office, which would protect medical professionals who refuse to provide abortion services and other procedures on moral and religious grounds, according to ABC News.
And as governor of Indiana, Pence was notoriously anti-abortion. During the 2016 campaign trail, he promised to overturn abortion rights case Roe v. Wade and see abortion rights "consigned to the ash heap of history."
March for Life was founded in 1974 by Nellie Gray, an anti-abortion activist, to protest the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion across the country in the landmark case Roe v. Wade. That same year, the event attracted 20,000 people, including conservatives and religious activists, and became an annual event.
Since, the event has gained more and more marchers. In 2013, a reported 650,000 people attended the event, according to Fox News. In 2012, 400,000 people attended, according to NPR. But the 2017 march only pulled in "tens of thousands," per the National Review. There’s no way to tell what numbers this year’s march will produce.
The march also comes just a few days before the Women's March, a nationwide event that advocates for basic rights for women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, religious and non-religious people, people of color and others. Last year, that event pulled in more than 400,000 people in New York City, and between 3 and 5 million people nationwide.
That being said, who knows what to expect from this year's March for Life. But one thing is for certain: with the president speaking, it's worth keeping an eye on.