March for Life draws marches in Atlanta and around the country

7:13 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Hundreds of protesters in downtown Atlanta joined thousands of others across the nation, as part of the annual "March for Life" abortion protests.

WXIA -- From Atlanta to the bitter cold in Washington DC., people around the country marched for the right to life Wednesday.

PHOTOS | See the marchers from Atlanta to DC

Hundreds marched to the state Capitol in Atlanta Wednesday morning.  Governor Nathan Deal was asked about Georgia Right to Life's claim that state abortion clinics were not being regulated.  Deal said the state doesn't get involved with that and said it's "unnecessary" to get state law enforcement involved in a local matter.

The March for Life rolled through the nation's snow-covered, bitterly cold capital Wednesday with thousands of hardy souls chanting, marching and listening to speakers press their case against abortion rights.

"We may be freezing, but we are freezing for the best cause in the world," Patrick Kelly, chairman of the march, said to loud applause on the National Mall.

Protesters chanted as they marched: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, abortion has got to go," and "We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?!"

The atmosphere was upbeat, even as their signs whipped in the brutal wind: "Babies are precious", "#teamlife" and "I am the pro-life generation."

Mary Baxter, 46, came from Grand Rapids, Mich., with her two daughters, Sarah, 18, and Ashleigh, 14.

"We're here today in peaceful protest, just like Martin Luther King," Baxter said. "Life is the first gift we are all given. No one has the right to take that away."

Sarah said she leads a group that stands outside abortion clinics to protest. Sometimes, that means starting at 5 a.m. before she has to go to school.

"We just stand on the sidewalk and pray," Sarah says. "Sometimes people honk and support but sometimes people even throw cans at us."

The march marks the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the famed Roe v. Wade case that affirmed a woman's right to an abortion. For the ruling's supporters, Wednesday was a day for celebration.

Ilyse Hogue, head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says her organization on Wednesday was commemorating "the anniversary of the decision that enshrined into law a woman's freedom to decide when, how and with whom to have a family."

But on the Mall, it was all about banning abortion - and the weather.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., one of the guest speakers, thanked the crowd for giving a "voice" to the cause.

"You, the marchers - the advocates, who don't mind enduring the worst weather Washington could throw at you for the opportunity to change one heart and one mind -you are our movement's not-so-secret weapon," Cantor told the crowd.

"We come here every year and freeze our buns off," said Steve Antosh, 57, of Fairfax, Va., holding an "Overturn Roe v. Wade" sign. "There is not just a moral problem, there is a political problem."

Matt Woodley, 54, of Wheaton, Ill., said this was his first march.

"I am astounded by the number of young people here," he said. "It's absolutely unbelievable."

Also from Wheaton, Diana Soerens, 30, brought her 7-month-old daughter, Zipporah. She said she was glad that this year's theme was adoption. "Sanctity of life is close to my heart and I really love the theme," she said.

This is the 40th year for the march to the Supreme Court, and 2014 brought social media changes. This year there was a March For Life app -- and a Facebook "virtual march" where people who couldn't make it to the march could post a past March for Life photo as their cover photo to show support.

Pope Francis was among those tweeting his support for the marchers: "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."

Former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., was among politicians chiming in on Twitter: "My heart is with @March_for_Life today as they speak for the 56 million unborn babies denied their chance at life. #WhyWeMarch."

The weather did jam up many people expecting to fly to Washington. It also stopped some D.C.-bound tour buses.

John Triscik, 44, of Hershey, Pa., canceled his plans to take about 50 members of his youth ministry at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church to the march. "I'd love to be able to take these kids and show them that even the weather can't silence us, but it's better to be safe than sorry," Triscik said.

Veronika Johannsen, 22, of College Station, Texas, beat the weather and arrived safely for her second time at the march. "The face is changing. It's not just white male politicians like the pro-choice people like to say," Johannsen said. "All kinds of people come. Religious groups of all different denominations, former abortion workers, women who have been raped or have been conceived in rape."

(USA Today)

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