Among those who attended the 40th March for Life in Washington, DC on January 25, one of the most commonly heard reactions was that this felt like the biggest one yet.
And it probably was.
Crowd estimates of the March for Life usually numbered between 300,000 and 400,000 over the past few years, but this year estimates were as high as 500,000!
Considering the major role played the pro-life movement in the ongoing fight on behalf of religious freedom and in opposition to the Obama Administion’s HHS Mandate, we at the Pro-Life Action League made the decision to literally carry the banner for religious freedom at this year’s March.
Before the March, we put out a call to all pro-life activists across the country, and especially those who had served as Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally captains in their local cities, to march with us beneath a 16-foot banner that we displayed at our June and October Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies in Chicago.
Nate Scheidler—the eldest son of Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler—custom designed a PVC frame for carrying it, and it just so happened that Nate and several of his fellow students from the University of Illinois happened upon the League’s group just as the March was stepping off.
Despite a bit of snow and much colder weather than has been felt at the March for Life the past several years, enthusiasm was just as high if not higher than ever.
League Represented at Numerous March for Life Events
In addition to the March itself, the Pro-Life Action League was well represented at numerous other March for Life events taking place in Washington last week.
On Thursday, Eric Scheidler served as the M.C. for the standing-room only March for Life Youth Rally at the Hyatt Hotel. The rally featured such speakers as Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, Bryan Kemper, Father Frank Pavone, and Melissa Ohden.
In his remarks, Eric encouraged the teens and young adults to do two things when they return home from the March: (1) to find the abortion clinic closest to where they live; and (2) to find local pro-lifers who are already active in prayer and sidewalk counseling outside this abortion clinic, and to work with them. Attendees were also given a copy of the League’s Sharing the Pro-Life Message handbook, and Eric encouraged them to keep it with them at all times.
While Eric was emceeing the March for Life Youth Rally, his parents, Pro-Life Action League co-founders Joe and Ann Scheidler, were attending a Mass at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. The Mass was hosted by the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and was celebrated by Boston’s Sean Cardinal O’Malley.
Following the Mass, Joe Scheidler attended a meeting of several veteran pro-life activists–and longtime friends all–including John Cavanaugh O’Keefe, Joan (Andrews) Bell, Lynn Mills, Troy Newman and Matt Bowman.
On the morning of the March, Joe Scheidler spoke to a packed youth rally at the Grand Hyatt Hotel sponsored by the Dioceses of Chicago, Rockford, and Springfield. Following the rally, Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George celebrated Mass.
At the same time, I represented the League at a Tridentine Mass offered at St. Mary Mother of God Church in honor of March for Life foundress Nellie Gray, who died last year.
Following the March, Joe, Ann, and Eric Scheidler attended the annual Rose Dinner and heard talks by two heavy hitters in the pro-life movement: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Peggy Hartshorn, founder of Heartbeat International.
We marched together. We prayed together. We shared fellowship together. We strategized together.
And upon returning from the March for Life, we are ready to redouble our efforts in a multi-pronged fight against abortion.
See below photos of the March for Life taken by Pro-Life Action League Communications Director Matt Yonke and Executive Director Eric Scheidler.