Thousands of anti-abortion activists, including Georgetown University students, attended the annual Washington, D.C. March for Life on the National Mall on Jan. 18.
The March for Life began in protest of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that the right to an abortion was protected by the 14th Amendment. The first march took place on Jan. 22, 1974.
President Donald Trump addressed attendees through a video feed, listing legislative action the administration has taken to advance the anti-abortion cause, according to a Jan. 19 White House news release. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the audience in person and commended Trump for nominating conservative judges to the federal bench and Supreme Court, according to CNN.
Members of Georgetown Right to Life, an anti-abortion student group, attended the event. Enthusiasm for the march among members of the club has remained constant over the years, according to GU Right to Life President Caroline Willcox (COL ’19).
“We had the biggest showing of all our events so far,” Willcox said in an interview with The Hoya. “We had lots of students come out and join thousands of other pro-lifers from across the country to stand up for the voiceless in America.”
In tandem with the march, Georgetown hosted its annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, the largest collegiate anti-abortion conference in the United States, on Saturday. Founded by Georgetown students in 2000, the mission of the conference is to promote discourse on the sacredness of human life.
Members of H*yas for Choice, an unrecognized pro-reproductive rights student group, attended a counterprotest to the March for Life in front of the Supreme Court, according to HFC Co-Director of Communications Elianna Schiffrik (SFS ’21).
“We believe that having a physical presence in opposition to events such as the March and Cardinal O’Connor Conference, that advocate for the violation fundamental rights like a person’s right to a safe abortion and against the values of our community, is powerful and central to the fight for reproductive justice,” Schiffrik wrote in an email to The Hoya.
If Georgetown promotes values held by the Catholic Church, the university should also provide a voice to students who disagree with those values, according to Georgetown University College Democrats chair Rebecca Hollister (COL ’21).
“Though I can understand that Georgetown has some obligation to what the Church believes, I think they need to allow the abortion debate to continue on campus by recognizing groups such as H*yas for Choice,” Hollister wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Dialogue is so important and diversity is often expressed as a value of Georgetown, but in that sense, I’m not sure the school practices what it preaches.”
Georgetown University College Republicans supports the march and seeks to create more dialogue around conservative values on campus, according to GUCR President Hayley Grande (COL ’21).
“GUCR is dedicated to upholding and promoting conservative values on campus, including protection for the rights of the unborn,” Grande wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We support the mission of the March for Life and always look forward to working with Right to Life to create more opportunities for pro-life events and dialogue on and off campus.”
Speakers at the march included Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of the only anti-abortion Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives; Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; and popular conservative speaker and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro, who was scheduled to speak at Georgetown in March 2018 before inclement weather cancelled the event.
The unified message of the march was inspiring, Dalton Nunamaker (COL ’22), wrote in a statement to The Hoya after attending the march as a member of GUCR.
“Black or white, rich or poor, religious or atheist, even Democrat and Republican, people were united in love, positivity, and hope,” Nunamaker wrote. “I would encourage every Georgetown student to attend the March at least once to see for themselves the compassion behind the pro-life movement.”