By Ben Atlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 27, 2013
Less than a week after the presidential inauguration, the National Mall was packed once again to commemorate the anniversary of another landmark in American policy.
Nearly half a million people marched on the Mall for the 40th March for Life, which came days after the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. The theme of this year’s rally was "40=55M," representing that in the 40 years since the decision there have been 55 million abortions, according to March for Life's website.
Members of the University’s chapter of Students for Life organization, an anti-abortion activist group on campus, made the trek to the nation's capital.
The program began with a rally at the National Mall that featured prominent speakers such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Young people and members of other student groups constituted the majority of the nearly half million people, according to LSA junior Tori Criswell, president of Students for Life at Michigan.
“It was really inspiring to see,” Criswell said. “Our generation is more pro-life than any other generation before. It was a really moving experience to see everyone united for this cause.”
After the rally, participants marched to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, where women who have had abortions shared their stories.
Criswell thought the rally was effective in promoting the anti-abortion side in the continuing debate on women's reproductive health. She hopes the event would help enlighten more people on the abortion laws throughout the country.
“We have so many young people and so much support for the pro-life cause,” Criswell said. “It’s just a great way to show what we’re all about and what we’re working towards, which is ending abortion.”
On Saturday, Criswell and other members of the club attended the Students for Life of America conference, the largest student anti-abortion conference in the world. Criswell said over 2,000 students attended the conference, which aimed to unify the “pro-life generation” and to work toward abolishing abortion.
The University’s delegation was named the 2013 Group of the Year by Students for Life of America for the work they did with the Pregnant on Campus initiative. As part of the initiative, they created an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, where pregnant women on campus can confidentially receive free resources as well as other support. The services provided include free ultrasounds, adoption referrals, help with student housing arrangements and financial aid.
Through the Pregnant on Campus initiative and other efforts, Students for Life continues to advocate for anti-abortion causes.
“Even though the life issue didn’t win in this (past) election, we’re still pushing forward,” Criswell said.
Criswell said the significance of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision has energized the anti-abortion base to continue to ramp up its advocacy in the future. She pointed out that most of the many people at the rally have never known a time before abortion was legal.
“We can’t rely on politicians, we have to do it ourselves,” Criswell said about revisiting the debate about abortion. “Forty years is way too long.”