— just to help make their visit educational and memorable, and for the Rally and March to run smoothly and safely. We handle the permits and first aid station and logistics thanks to about 200 volunteers, mainly from the Knights of Columbus.
Over the many years that you’ve attended the March for Life, and now from your perspective at the podium, have you seen changes in the demographics of the crowd?
One of the most inspiring aspects of the March is that every generation and race and ethnicity in America is represented in the marchers. You’ll see babies in arms and in strollers, kids from infants to college-aged, elderly women and men who haven’t missed a March in four decades, people in wheelchairs. It’s sad, of course, that we still have to march. We all look forward to the day when abortion is no longer legal or wanted, but it’s heartening to see that people will not give up defending the lives of unborn children and their mothers and fathers, who can suffer so deeply after abortion. The most obvious change in the makeup of marchers began occurring in the mid-90s. Every year, it seems that more and more young people are coming to Washington to stand up for life. They are proud to call themselves the “Generation Life" and promise to finish our mission to overturn Roe v. Wade. One of the Rally speakers is a perfect example of that determination. Julia Johnson, now a high school senior from North Dakota, organized nine busloads of friends and fellow students to come all the way from North Dakota for the March.
Have you introduced any innovations this year? I haven’t heard anything about the annual essay contest.
The annual essay contest has gone the way of the typewriter. Generation Life is adept at social media so instead of an essay, we sponsored “Every selfie has a story,” inviting marchers to tweet selfies to #WhyWeMarch that explain why they’re going to march for life. Entries range from artistic to hilarious. There’s a gallery with some of the #WhyWeMarch photos on our site.
Speaking of tweets, have you heard anything from the Vatican about Pope Francis tweeting a message to the March for Life again this year?
Not yet, but we’re hoping to receive a message on the morning of the March, just in time to read it at the Rally.
What’s in store for the Rose Dinner following the March?
I’m glad you asked. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus will be the keynote speaker at the Rose Dinner. He and the Knights have a big reason to celebrate: they’ve just donated the 500th ultrasound machine to a pregnancy resource center. Ultrasounds save lives, but they are beyond the budget of most pregnancy resource centers. Thanks to the personal contributions and fundraising by the Knights, 500 of these machines are now saving lives across America.
Looking through the March for Life website, I was surprised by all the year-round work and events you’re now engaged in. Can you tell our readers a little bit about that?
Thanks to our small but top-notch staff of four full-time employees and one part-timer, we’re now able to be a voice for the January 22 pro-life marchers year round through social media, education and especially through advocacy on Capitol Hill. Tom McClusky, formerly of the Family Research Council, heads up our legislative affairs. We’re able to present to Members of Congress the views of the pro-life community on legislation, report on legislative and Supreme Court developments through social media and, importantly, present briefings to Members of Congress and Congressional staff. Last June, for example, we held a briefing on the Hill on women’s issues, helping pro-life Members and staff respond effectively to the “war on women” rhetoric. And in October, we held a briefing on the widespread practice of aborting children with a PPD and the interventions that are now possible to improve the lives of these children.
One last question before I let you go, Jeanne. What are your plans for the day after the March?
My husband, David, and I were able to go on a brief honeymoon after our wedding in late November, but with all the activities preparing for the March for Life events since then, we haven’t had much time to settle into married life and organize our home together. So that will move to the top of my agenda, at least for a long weekend.
is a senior writer for Aleteia’s English-language edition.