1:36 – The program has concluded, and the march follows. We’ll wrap up the live blogging here. Thanks for following along!
1:32 –“People cry for Harambe,” Matthews says, but few speak up to stop a genocide of African-Americans and Africans through abortion. “It’s time to rise up!”
1:30 – “There are a lot of Christophobic people in this nation … but enough is enough,” says Bishop Vincent Matthews.
1:28 – As my mother pointed out, Watson’s speech aimed at men was an inspiring and much-needed perspective.
1:22 – Great to see NFL star Benjamin Watson at the March for Life. And I don’t often say that about Baltimore Ravens.
1:18 – Karyme Lozano offers a link to the issue of euthanasia — a welcome broadening of the context of this event.
1:10 – The University of Mary in North Dakota sent 11 buses of marchers to the rally. I have friends at that university — they have a great international program.
1:09 – “I have not thought a lot about blowing up Madonna’s house,” Metaxas says, and then encourages marchers to pray for Madonna.
1:05 – Eric Metaxas asks twice, “ABC — are you covering this? He adds, “You’ve heard of fake news, right? Well, Roe v Wade is fake law.”
1:01 – Abby Johnson takes the stage. I’ll have her on my show Tuesday. Mark your calendars.
12:56 – Sen. Joni Ernst announces that she’s reintroducing a bill to redirect Planned Parenthood funding to other healthcare providers who do not provide abortions. She’s also introducing a bill to remove Barack Obama’s regulation that shored up Planned Parenthood funding through Title X.
12:53 – This is the speech of the day, from Mia Love. “May we never allow our funds to pay for the death of young children!”
12:51 – The big reveal: the story she started telling at the beginning was about her own parents and their difficult choice in giving her life. Amazing speech.
12:50 – Love relates the story of a young black woman holding a sign at last week’s march: “I survived Roe v Wade.” Terrific speech.
12:46 – Rep. Mia Love speaks to the crowd, offering a soaring speech about the hope of new life.
12:44 – Planned Parenthood still the biggest target of outrage for speakers.
12:33 – Jeannie Mancini returns to the stage for her own address, rather than as the emcee.
12:25 – Excellent, moving speech from Pence. It’s a very good start to his term as vice-president.
12:22 – Pence urges love over confrontation. “When it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing stronger than gentleness.”
12:20 – Pence says life is winning through science, which shows human life objectively in all its stages, and also through “faith-based organizations” that provide support for women and the choice of life. “Compassion is overcoming convenience, and hope is overcoming despair.”
12:19 – “We’re in the promise-keeping business,” Pence says, and cites the Mexico City policy reinstatement. Pledges to work with Congress for permanent bans on federal dollars flowing to abortion providers.
12:18 – Pence tells the crowd that Trump asked him to make a personal appearance this year.
12:16 – “Life is winning again in America!”
12:14 – Mrs. Pence introduces her husband and gets a great cheer. Pence says he’s relaying Donald Trump’s good wishes as he welcomes the marchers to Washington. “Best day I’ve ever seen for the March for Life.”
12:13 – People certainly love Mike and Karen Pence at this rally. Bigger cheer than for Conway.
12:11 – “We look forward to working with you,” Conway says in conclusion. The pro-life movement certainly hopes so, and has to be delighted with the start of the new administration.
12:09 – She’s delivering an excellent speech on the need to support life as an innate human good, and not a commodity.
12:06 – Conway makes her appearance on stage, introduces herself as “a wife, a mother, a Catholic, counselor to the United States of America — and yes, I’m pro-life.”
12:04 – “Kellyanne is one of us,” says the president of the March for Life. She’s first up, but there’s a delay backstage for some reason.
Update, 12 noon ET: An on-time start!
Ready for another fight over crowd size? The 44th March for Life takes to the National Mall in Washington, with the live program scheduled to start at noon, and the march at 1 pm ET. Vice President Mike Pence and top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway will speak to the gathered demonstrators for the pro-life cause, but be prepared for more disputes over just how many demonstrators have gathered. NBC News sets the stage for the later debate:
For the first time in years, abortion opponents will have all the political momentum when they hold their annual rally Friday on the National Mall.
The March for Life, held each year in Washington to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, said it will have one of its biggest-name speakers in years: Vice President Mike Pence.
The March for Life said that neither a president nor a vice president has ever addressed the event now in its 44th year. And one of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, Kellyanne Conway, is also on the speakers’ list.
Organizers told the National Park Service in their permit application they expect 50,000 participants. Yet Trump insisted on the eve of the rally that the crowd would be far larger, saying “a lot of people are gonna be showing up.”
Last year, inclement weather dampened the turnout, but pro-life advocates said that the media “vastly” underestimated turnout:
Contrary to the New York Times, there were vastly more than “hundreds” at the Washington March for Life 2016 and more than the vague “thousands” indicated by the Washington Post. Given this year’s historic winter weather threat, organizers were delighted that at least 40 or more thousands of pro-life supporters still stayed to march the full length of the march route before rushing home.
Mainstream media, however, took advantage of the adverse circumstances to manufacture the lowest numbers yet of their usual far-too-low estimates of participants in the annual march this year.
These photos and the video posted by LifeSite clearly reveal the total lack of credibility of the New York Times’ and Washington Post’s efforts to present an honest estimate of the numbers at the march. As reported Thursday, “The Alliance for Fair Coverage of Life Issues launched its #CoverTheMarch campaign that day demanding the media cover this year’s March for Life and cover it fairly.” Well, once again, it hasn’t.
Expect more of these fights after the march concludes, especially given the back-and-forth this week over the inauguration crowd estimates. The media will be keen to compare turnout this year not to previous March for Life events, but to the turnout for the Women’s March on Washington last weekend. Perhaps they’ll also compare the count of broken windows, burned-out cars, arrests, and litter. I suspect that won’t be the case, however.
The biggest story of this march is that the demonstrators have more political momentum behind them now than in eight years — and maybe longer than that. With a Supreme Court opening and a vice president on the dais, it’s a moment that many of these activists have prayed they would see. Let’s hope those prayers get fulfilled.
We have a live stream courtesy of NBC News. Follow along with all of the speeches, and with the other events as they take place.
Here are the speakers for today’s event:
March for Life confirmed speakers are: Kellyanne Conway, Senior Counselor to President Trump; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA); Rep. Mia Love (R-UT); Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); Benjamin Watson, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens; Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director and founder of “And Then There Were None”; Karyme Lozano, Mexican telenovela star; Eric Metaxas, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and host of The Eric Metaxas Show; Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., President at Church of God In Christ World Missions; and Vice President of the United States Mike Pence.
I’ll do some light live blogging of the events for the first hour. As usual, updates will go to the top in reverse chronological order.