The March for Life in Washington, D.C., has been held in some form since 1974, surviving during years when abortion was widely discussed and in years when it was not at the center of the national debate.
When marchers – including about 500 from Western New York – convene in the capital at noon Wednesday, speakers will likely mention a recent U.S. Supreme Court case regarding how close people who want to discourage women from having abortions can get to clinic patients. They also are likely mention New York’s governor.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s remarks Friday that “extreme conservatives have no place in the state of New York” were picked up by Catholic and conservative websites.
“I am guessing that Andrew Cuomo’s remarks are going to be repeated by every speaker on the platform,” said Stasia Zoladz Vogel, president of the Buffalo Regional Right to Life Committee. “Everyone will know how much Andrew loves his constituents.”
Cuomo defined “extreme conservative” positions as opposing abortion rights, opposing same-sex marriage rights and favoring legalization of assault weapons. His aides later said he was talking about Republican candidates.
Rally speakers will also likely discuss a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court last week involving a Massachusetts law that allows for a 35-foot buffer zone around the doorways to abortion clinics, which are a favored spot for activists trying to get women to change their minds. The law was instituted after violence and harassment at Massachusetts clinics.
The rally will take place at the National Mall, and the March for Life will move down Constitution Avenue to the Capitol and Supreme Court.
The event has been held every year since the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, issued Jan. 22, 1973.
Regardless of what is making headlines, the trip to the nation’s capital every winter for the march is cold, and it can be “wearying” for people who ride buses and skip a hotel stay, Vogel said.
“It’s just an expression of the continuity of the pro-life movement,” she said.
Many young people attend the event, and Constitution Avenue isn’t wide enough to handle everyone, she said.
As a prelude to the march, a Candlelight Rosary for Life was held Sunday evening in the Blessed Mother’s House on James Street in Buffalo.
The March’s national organizers do not make attendance projections, but Vogel estimates her group will have 200 people, and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is expecting to send 300.
The diocese will send six buses, beginning this evening, to make it to the rally in time. On Wednesday, Bishop of Buffalo Richard J. Malone will celebrate Mass at the Washington, D.C., armory with youth groups from Western New York.