ARLINGTON, Va. — As coronavirus restrictions and security concerns forced the March for Life to forego its annual demonstration in Washington, D.C., this year, a group of pro-life Americans gathered to form the largest ever Life Chain.
The pro-life group Students for Life of America decided to put on an event that would enable people who had already planned to attend the March for Life to show their support for the unborn, just a week after the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Despite the bitterly cold wind chill, more than 200 pro-life youth gathered at Gravelly Point in Arlington, Virginia, Friday. The park is located just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway and near Ronald Reagan National Airport.
With the Washington Monument in the background, attendees formed a large Life Chain, which organizers hoped would be the largest in the world. As they faced the George Washington Memorial Parkway, many driving on the busy highway honked their horns to show support for their cause.
Holding signs emblazoned with phrases such as “abortion betrays women,” pro-life protesters chanted, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go,” “We are the pro-life generation” and “Preborn rights are human rights!”
In addition to the main Life Chain, which took place in Arlington, other Life Chains took place in the states of California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Kristi Hamrick, the chief media and policy strategist for Students for Life, said, “We wanted to give people the opportunity to engage with this memorial related to Roe v. Wade, and not everybody could come to the capital.”
“We’ve done Life Chains before but not during the march,” she added. “We’re going to stand for life together no matter where we are.” Hamrick also shared her thoughts about the mood of the pro-life movement, now that the federal government is controlled by the Democratic Party, which is almost unanimously sympathetic to the pro-abortion movement.
“This change in administration reminds us that this is not a D.C. movement; this is a national movement. And it’s clear that this administration, the Biden administration, is going to be radically pro-abortion, but the momentum for life is at the state level,” she added.
“We’re seeing pro-life gains at the state level. There’s a lot of activity there, and frankly, that’s the kind of activity that’s going to drive cases to the Supreme Court. So the question is, where are you looking for hope and change, and we’re looking for it at the state level.”
“This year, in particular, reminds us, where is the power of the pro-life movement? It’s in people and their communities. And we really see that this year when so many were not able to come because of the restrictions of the local government.”
Autumn Lindsey, a community college student from Washington state who has attended the March for Life for the previous three years, told CP: “I’m here to stand for life."
"I think what events like this prove is that the pro-life generation is going to show up despite the circumstances," Lindsey said. "You know, it’s nitty-gritty, it’s hard work. But we’re here because we believe that abortion is the greatest injustice of our lifetime. And so, there’s going to be nothing that stops us from doing what we can to speak up and stand for life.”
Weighing in on the new administration, Lindsey said, “I think for a lot of people it’s discouraging with a new administration. But the pro-life generation’s mission isn’t going to change.”
“Our mission was to abolish abortion and is to abolish abortion," she continued. "Although it feels like a step back with this new pro-abortion administration, we’re going to continue to do all that we can to make sure that we’re changing cultures in our own cities across the nation because this movement isn’t just in D.C, it’s nationwide. We’re going to continue being active and mobilizing in our own cities to change the culture … and to create a culture of life.”
Holding a sign that said “Conceived in rape, I love my life,” Rebecca Kiessling of Michigan told CP, “I did not deserve the death penalty for the crime of my biological father.”
“They should punish rapists and not babies,” added Kiessling, who serves as president of the pro-life organization Save the 1. She attended the Life Chain with her 17-year-old daughter, Carina, along with her friend Christy Larson of Minnesota, who's also a member of Save the 1, and Christy’s husband, Tom.
Kiessling said she attended Life Chain “to advocate for the babies, to make sure that they get a chance at life.”
When asked about the Democratic Party's majority control in Congress, given that it supports the pro-abortion movement, Kiessling said, “It’s very discouraging to see that they have so much control because we know how much damage they can do.”
Christy Larson, who said she was also conceived as a result of rape, held a sign identical to Kiessling’s while Tom Larson held a sign that read: “My wife was conceived from rape, I love her life.” Carina Kiessling held a sign that read: “My mom was conceived in rape, I love her life.”
Brenna Lewis from Cincinnati, Ohio, an employee of Students for Life, said she was at the Life Chain to “stand for life.” Regarding the recent change in presidential administrations, Lewis remarked that, “We are very determined, still very optimistic. You know, there’s going to be a bit of defense play here, but that’s definitely not our focus. We know there’s still steps forward for life, even with this particular administration.”
Landon, also from Ohio, said, “I’m here to support the pro-life movement, something that I feel strongly about and want to get more involved with.”
Landon said that he found out about the Life Chain after receiving an email from the pro-life group Live Action. He predicted that a new presidential administration was “going to make it more difficult, that’s for sure, but it’s the people that are out and doing stuff like this that are going to make a difference in changing hearts and minds.”
While the Life Chain drew people from across the country, some locals also turned out at the event. “I am here to support women and their children,” said Alyssa from Vienna, Virginia. “Over 62 million preborn children’s lives have been taken since 1973, and we are here to support an end to abortion.”
When asked to weigh in on the new presidential administration, she maintained that “It will be challenging, but now it’s more important than ever for us to stand up for the preborn and be a voice for the voiceless. It will be harder to pass pro-life legislation, and some things might be reversed, but we just have to fight more than ever.”
Dustin Curtis from Spotsylvania, Virginia, who's the executive advisor for Students for Life Action, told CP that “I’m here to stop the number one injustice in America and across the world right now, and that’s to reverse Roe v. Wade.”
He pushed back on the idea that the most recent federal election gave the pro-abortion movement an overwhelming victory. “They do not have a mandate, so I don’t think the abortion lobby has a mandate at all. Given the election results, the split Senate and the fact that Nancy Pelosi, one of the most radical pro-abortion speakers of the House, she lost seats this past year. So it was a close election and … I don’t think … you could make an argument that they have a mandate.”
“At the state level, we have tons of opportunities there, and we’re seeing pro-life legislation move rapidly in places where we have pro-life majorities and pro-life governors, so I’m actually pretty optimistic about the future. And we are seeing it with new polling out that the Students for Life conducted that shows more and more millennials are becoming more and more pro-life by the day,” he continued.
While the Life Chain, which began at 9 a.m. Eastern time, was scheduled to conclude at 11 a.m., but the event finished about 45 minutes earlier than expected when U.S. Park Police kindly informed organizers that the number of people at the event exceeded the limit allowed under Virginia’s social distancing guidelines. Throughout the event, participants were encouraged to wear masks and urged to remain 6 feet apart.