The March for Life is America’s biggest anti-abortion rally. Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty images
The White home announced Wednesday that President Donald trump card will address the 45th March for Life, the country largest annual pro-life event, via live currently this Friday.

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Thousands of anti-abortion advocates are intended to flock come Washington, DC, for the annual rally hosted on the nationwide Mall come galvanize publicly sentiment against abortion and also formally support the overturning that Roe v. Wade.

The rally, i beg your pardon starts in ~ 11:20 am and concludes in ~ 3 pm, will incorporate a power of Christian music, a series of speaker — including home Speaker Paul Ryan and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow -— and a march up structure Avenue in between the Washington Monument and also the Capitol.

Founded through anti-abortion activist and Roman Catholic convert Nellie Gray in 1974 come protest the one-year anniversary the the can be fried Court’s decision to legalize abortion nationwide in Roe v. Wade, the March for Life was intended to it is in a one-off event. After ~ attracting 20,000 human being that very first year, it’s come to be an annual phenomenon with the support of spiritual advocacy groups, and plays hold to several high-profile conservative and religious figures.

Though the march’s slogan, “a voice for the voiceless,” refers to what participants characterize together unborn children, it can well twin for the entrants themselves, numerous of whom see their values and also their faith as in ~ odds with an significantly secular culture. Back Gray passed far in 2012, the March because that Life organization continues to run under president Jeanne Mancini, an author and Catholic activist.

Some years are much better attended than others many thanks to weather and also political interest. In 2013, because that example, just after the begin of chairman Obama’s second term, Fox News reported a crowd of approximately 650,000, up from 400,000 in 2012, while last year’s in march — simply after Trump’s inauguration — had numbers in the tens of thousands. In general, the march has been at its strongest together a countercultural force throughout periods once participants could be taken into consideration to it is in on the outs, politically: The best-attended year top top record, follow to the March for Life’s website, which does no give specific figures, was 2009, simply a couple of days after chairman Obama’s inauguration.

It continues to be to be viewed whether this year rally will be a protest or a win lap. Trump’s presidency has actually galvanized evangelicals who, because that the first time in a decade, check out their interests stood for at the White House. Critical year, newly inaugurated Vice chairman Mike Pence ended up being the highest-ranking member that a presidential management ever to to visit a rally in person. (Trump torture Kellyanne Conway, a Catholic, likewise attended.) the year, Pence framed Trump’s victory as a major win for the anti-abortion movement, telling assembled crowds, “Life is win again in America.”

The march draws its support from a spiritual base

While the march chin is no explicitly spiritual in nature, that is often suffused through Christian imagery, and its most high-profile participants often tend to be religious leaders. Bodies choose the principles & religious Liberty commission (ERLC), the public plan arm of the southern Baptist Convention, and also the Catholic Archdiocese that Washington (which organizes a associated youth rally every year around the very same time), have developed their own events pegged come or affiliated through the March.

Last year, for example, the in march featured a prayer led by brand-new York Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Supposed speakers this year incorporate the ERLC’s Russell Moore and also Focus on the family members president Jim Daly.

Christian churches and organizations have additionally encouraged your members come participate. In a fairly uncommon step, the Archdiocese that Washington announced that a everyone indulgence — a total remission of punishment (i.e., purgatory) because that sin — would certainly be granted come those Catholics that attended masses regarded the March for Life rally this year. (Plenary indulgences, a patent Catholic legacy that has become less fashionable in the modern era, often tend to be scheduled for more explicitly spiritual practices like expedition or attending a spirituality retreat.)

The March for Life’s primary emphasis is abortion, but it’s likewise brought attention to anti-euthanasia and disability rights causes. In 2005, for example, the household of Terri Schiavo — whose last days on life support provoked a national debate on right-to-die plans — appeared on the March for Life stage.

Despite the ideas of those converging in Washington on Friday, an ext Americans right now support abortion legal rights than ever before. Follow to the Pew research Center, 57 percent that Americans support a woman’s appropriate to one abortion in every or many cases. The said, it’s important to acknowledge that the connection between religion and abortion in America isn’t the clear-cut. Among Catholics — traditionally and historically abortion’s biggest adversaries — 53 percent think abortions must be legitimate in every or many cases, as perform 55 percent of black Protestants. Only amongst white evangelical Protestants execute we uncover a majority — 70 percent — that oppose abortion.

But amongst Protestants (if not Catholics), abortion has only come to be a hot-button problem in recent decades.

As Randall Balmer write in Politico, as late as 1968 — just 5 years before Roe v. Wade — a medical symposium funded by the evangelical magazine Christianity Today declined to call abortion sinful, while transparent the 1970s (including ~ the i of Roe v. Wade), delegates in ~ the southern Baptist Convention’s annual conference affirmed that “Southern Baptists work for regulation that will permit the opportunity of abortion under such problems as rape, incest, clear proof of major fetal deformity, and also carefully ascertained proof of the likelihood of damages to the emotional, mental, and also physical health and wellness of the mother.”

Rather, early on evangelical politics mobilization efforts centered not ~ above Roe v. Wade however on Green v. Kennedy, the 1970 can be fried Court decision to strip private Christian segregated schools of their tax-exempt status, and also the 1975 decision to execute the exact same to evangelical Bob Jones University, which walk not permit interracial dating among its students.

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Balmer estimates Elmer L. Rumminger, one administrator at Bob Jones University, as saying that desegregation cases like this “alerted the Christian college community around what could happen with federal government interference that was really the significant issue that acquired us every involved.”

In fact, abortion did not prominently figure into the evangelical agenda till the 1978 election, when Jerry Falwell’s incipient Moral bulk used the topic to galvanize voters, plenty of of who resented perceived autonomous interference in the distinction cases.

As pointed out earlier, under Trump, evangelicals have actually seen an ext representation of their values in the White House, including taking stricter stances top top abortion. Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump said women should be punished for having actually abortions. Within days of acquisition office, he rolled ago the global gag rule, impede foreign assist from contributing come abortions (though this dominance typically alters with each incoming administration, depending on its political leanings). He and also Republican lawmakers have also had no qualms through cutting capital for planned Parenthood and also other groups, and also signed a legislation last year to officially cut federal support for the abortion provider.