The 44th annual March for Life, the largest annual anti-abortion rally in the world, was held in Washington D.C. Jan. 27 and drew an attendance estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
Among those in attendance was a group of 15 students from Jacks for Life, a student organization from South Dakota State. The organization identifies itself as pro-life, advocating for life by representing their interests before city and state legislators and providing resources for expectant mothers.
The students left for the march Thursday morning, Jan. 26, traveled to Minneapolis and departed on a flight to D.C. to march the following day. The group had been planning and fundraising for the trip since September of last year.
“The exec. members had to devote a lot of time to fundraise for this trip, but it was definitely rewarding and I’d do it again for sure,” said Mary Lack, president of Jacks for Life. “To be able to walk with everybody else when there [were] so many young adults and kids there as well, and to be able to talk to people there was really special.”
The students began their march in the shadow of the Washington Monument and ended on the steps of the Supreme Court, where they heard testimonies from people who had abortions and now regret them.
The group met with South Dakota Sen. John Thune; Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director turned anti-abortion activist; and Lisa Stover, national programs coordinator for Students for Life of America.
The group was also present in the crowds that heard Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and Vice President Mike Pence deliver speeches.
“I believe that we will continue to win the hearts and minds of the rising generation if our hearts first break for young mothers and their unborn children,” Pence said in his speech, delivered on behalf of the Trump administration.
In 2010, Gallup concluded that “support for making abortion broadly illegal, (was) growing fastest among young adults.” A 2016 Gallup poll said 29 percent of people felt that abortion should be “legal in all circumstances,” 50 percent “under only certain circumstances” and 19 percent believed abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances.”
The march came just one week after a series of Women’s Marches were held across the country, including in D.C., where there were calls for unrestricted access to abortion.
Among those in the Sioux Falls Women’s March was freshman pre-nursing major Alexis Dooley, vice president of Feminist Equality Movement (FEM), a student organization on campus that advocates for unrestricted access to abortion, among other women’s issues.
“This isn’t something that should be political. It’s a really personal decision for women and it’s something that should be a freedom for us because these are our bodies,” Dooley said. “We don’t want abortions to happen, but the option should be there for people.”
Junior human biology pre-medicine major Meghan Schenk was one of the 15 students who marched with the student organization and said she believes in a woman’s right to choose, but also believes that “once a baby is present, they have a voice.”
“We are the pro-life generation and hopefully, we’re the generation to end abortion,” Schenk said. “I think it’s important to advocate for people who can’t have their voices heard and experience the joy, fear, love and life that we can.”
This is the second year Jacks for Life has attended the anti-abortion march in D.C. and members plan to attend it again next year.