Thousands fill the Loop at annual March for Life

Thousands of participants in the annual March for Life Chicago — one of many being held nationwide to protest the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision — took over downtown Sunday.

“We’re taking a step once again to ensure that all human life is safe and that everyone’s part of the human family is respected,” Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said from the stage at Federal Plaza, one of the speakers kicking off a rally before the march by the sea of diverse Pro-Life protesters.

“It’s a march for today and through time,” Cupich said. “This year’s theme, ‘Unique From Day One,’ is so appropriate. Not only believers, but scientists, tell us that if we want to have a sense of awe and wonder in our world, all we need to do is to look at the little lives being knit together daily in their mothers’ wombs.”

The annual march, initially started by the Catholic church, marks the Pro-Life battle against the Jan. 22, 1973 decision striking down the nation’s anti-abortion laws. Chicago’s and other marches lead up to the largest and oldest of them,  The March for Life in Washington, on Jan. 18, featuring a noon rally on the National Mall and a march to the U.S. Supreme Court building.

As the 5K who turned out Sunday, Jan. 13, 19, for the March for Life leave Federal Plaza, police build a barrier between them and some 200 counter-protesters across the street. | Photo by Maudlyne Ihejirika

The Chicago event drew Midwest groups from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and Missouri, organizers said. It also drew some 200 counter-protesters that forced police to create a barrier between them.

“I helped organize the counter-protest because it’s important to me to stand up for my right to determine whether or not I want to start a family,” said Mary, a 19-year-old Columbia College student who asked that her last name be withheld, out of fear of harassment on campus. “It’s also important because neo-Nazis and white supremacists find cover among the Pro-Life protesters, with their view being women should be incubators to perpetuate white supremacy.”

By evening, Chicago Police had no official crowd estimate. Organizers placed the crowd at upward of 7,000. The crowd was clearly more than 5,000.

Speakers ranged from a young woman holding her daughter — who’d declined a suggested abortion; to Ryan Bomberger, founder of Radiance Foundation, whose mother was raped and put him up for adoption; to Chicago Bears Vice President Patrick McCaskey and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-lll.).

“I’m a Democrat. We all have our differences. But we all agree science shows us life begins at conception. There is nothing more important than protecting life,” Lipinski said. “We’ll keep working and fighting until there are no more abortions.”

After an hour of speakers, the anti-abortion protesters marched nine blocks through downtown. Counter-protesters, mostly women whose signs rejected lawmakers having a say over their bodies, said the issue will remain front and center at the 2019 Women’s March, scheduled next weekend in cities nationwide, with the largest, in Washington, on Jan 19. No Women’s March had been planned in Chicago.

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