The annual March for Life, like so many other pivotal nationwide events, has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its parallel ripple effects.
Last year the pro-life event was significantly smaller in size, consisting of a mere group of pro-life leaders who attended in person, along with a host of life enthusiasts from across the land who were only able to attend virtually.
It is by design that the annual pro-life rally takes place during the same time period as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the nation-altering 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.
The first march was held in 1974, organized through the efforts of pro-life activist and lawyer Nellie Gray. Originally intended to be a one-time event, participants of the first march had a great deal of hope that the Supreme Court would see fit to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.
After the first march was completed, reality quickly set in. Gray took steps to institute the march as an annual event, and was able to obtain official recognition for it as a nonprofit organization.
Jeanne Mancini assumed leadership of the March for Life organization after Gray passed away in 2012.
This year’s event is going to take place well before the expected announcement of the Supreme Court in the yet-to-be determined decision of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which holds the possibility of effectively overturning Roe v. Wade and returning the abortion issue back to the state level and jurisdiction.
The 2022 version of the March for Life would be the first one to take place since the two-year-old coronavirus pandemic descended upon us. This does not mean that individuals over the years have not tried to prevent its occurrence.
This year’s march is scheduled to take place on Jan. 21, six days after a new vaccine mandate is set to take effect in the nation’s capital.
The mandate imposed by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requires those who are entering restaurants, bars and nightclubs, indoor entertainment establishments, indoor event and meeting establishments, and other indoor spaces to provide proof of having received at least one dose or more of the coronavirus vaccine, or to show evidence of a negative COVID test (taken within 24 hours of the event), accompanied by either an oral or written religious exemption or a written medical exemption.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the prominent pro-life group the Ruth Institute, issued a statement blasting the timing of Mayor Bowser’s vaccine mandate.
“We are disgusted by the transparently heavy-handed tactics of the mayor’s office in interfering with the biggest pro-life event in the nation,” Dr. Roback Morse said.
The group’s founder continued.
“It’s hard to believe that the timing of the mandate, which goes into effect several days before the March [for Life], is a coincidence. Rather, it looks like a deliberate move by a pro-abortion politician to throw a monkey wrench in a week of pro-life events,” she added.
Because the mandate requires that those entering indoor spaces must provide proof of vaccination and/or exemption, the imposed restrictions appear to be a means by which attendees might be hampered in their participation in this year’s March for Life.
“How could the mayor not know that pro-lifers are among those least likely to be vaccinated, due to concerns that fetal cells were used in the vaccine?” Dr. Roback Morse asked.
Students for Life of America, a young pro-life leadership training organization, expressed its displeasure with the last-minute mandate.
With regard to Mayor Bowser, a statement by the group indicated it is widely known that the mayor supports abortion. Consequently, the statement also suggests that the mandates imposed, along with the timing of their imposition, appear to be an attempt to “throw a wrench into plans to mourn the 49th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that wiped out the pro-life laws of the 50 states replacing them with chaos.”
“Under her leadership, the D.C. government in late December announced that there would be a new and stricter mandate in the district starting January 15 – shortly before the national pro-life march on January 21 and the National Pro-Life Summit on January 22,” the statement read.
“This last-minute mandate has caused dramatic changes for many organization’s plans to mourn the day the Supreme Court first allowed the human rights atrocity of our day,” the statement asserted.
The good news is that instead of folding up and canceling the event, dedicated activists behind the March for Life are making adjustments to deal with the mandates.
As March for Life’s Mancini noted in a statement, “While the March for Life itself is not affected, our indoor events will have a few modifications due to the District of Columbia’s current COVID regulations.”
Students for Life of America have actually purchased several thousand rapid-response COVID tests, so that those who want to attend the group’s indoor conference can obtain a free test to show their status, thus making them eligible to enter.
March organizers are urging participants to attend in person and to go over to Virginia with the money that they would have spent in Washington, D.C. for lodging and food.
This year’s theme for the March for Life is “Equality Begins in the Womb.”
It will proceed as planned, with a kick-off concert by contemporary Christian artist Matthew West, followed by a noon rally and the traditional march to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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