High-profile speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, at Friday’s annual March for Live have energized some marchers from the Philadelphia region.
The anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., boasts another White House speaker, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway. Trump remotely endorsed the rally via Twitter.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2017
Tim and Francine Greiner, from Delaware County, boarded a bus from Holy Cross Parish in Springfield Township before 8 a.m. Friday.
“I’m glad that this year we’re going to get more coverage from you guys,” said Francine, referring to the media spotlight drawn to Pence and Conway. “We have to relook at this situation. We’ve been in the dark too long about abortion.”
With a graphic protest sign tucked next to her seat, Helen McBlain, from Collingdale, described feeling buoyed by the prospect of some change to existing abortion access.
“This is the year of hope for us. Because even just de-funding Planned Parenthood would be a step in the right direction,” she said. Several riders echoed that call.
Many on the bus spoke up against the women’s health non-profit, sharing the belief that its primary service is providing abortions. While arriving at a single, agreed upon statistic for how big a part of the non-profit’s services are abortions has been elusive, independent outlets have documented other health services are the vasty majority of the nonprofit’s work.
According to a recent Factcheck.org report, in 2013 roughly one in twelve of all Planned Parenthood visitors received an abortion. Planned Parenthood also provides contraception, as well as screenings for sexually-transmitted infections and some cancers.
Regardless of that number, Republicans in Congress have pushed defunding the group in recent years, including tying its fate to whether they will pass a federal budget.
The nonprofit receives money from the federal and state governments, but is forbidden from putting federal dollars towards abortion in most cases by the 1976 Hyde Amendment.
In addition to defunding the women’s clinics, during his campaign President Donald Trump promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who oppose abortion. Recently, he’s revived a ban on aid to foreign nonprofits that use any money for abortion counseling.
Numbers for the march, which will likely draw comparisons to last week’s presidential inauguration and Women’s March on Washington, are not available. The March for Life did not respond to requests for estimates, although past years organizers have quoted turnouts in the tens of thousands.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese reported more than 3,000 people in southeastern Pennsylvania registered for the march through their parishes and Catholic schools.
Some of those faithful, like Dan and Cathy Kirk, are long-time foot soldiers for the anti-abortion cause. The couple estimate they’ve attended the March for Life at least three times in forty years.
“This is what God is asking us to do, to be a witness, said Cathy. “We believe in life. No only the unborn but the elderly and the marginalized.” This year’s media coverage comes as a welcome change, said many.
As NewsWorks exited the bus, a chorus of “Thank Yous” came from marchers.