Washington Readies March for Life

200,000 to Descend on US Capital

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Tens of thousands of people have arrived to the U.S. capital ready to march Thursday in defense of life.

They are coming to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life, which has been held every year on Jan. 22 since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on that date in 1973. Some 200,000 participants are expected, despite forecasts for a chilly day.

This year, participants will use their demonstration as a request to new President Barack Obama to reverse policies that promote the culture of death.

«We have a new president who has tremendous power to change the pro-life direction of the United States,» one participant, Eileen Picket, told ZENIT. The elementary school teacher arrived in Washington from Connecticut. «Our country needs to say that abortion is a terrible crime that kills innocent humans and we have to pray so that this new administration has the foresight to accept this.»

Today in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, many marchers will participate in a solemn Mass that initiates the Vigil for Life. Cardinal Justin Rigali, the U.S. bishops’ official in charge of its pro-life office, will lead the Mass.

Participants — the vast majority of them youth — will continue in prayer through the night. An early morning Mass on Thursday, celebrated by Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, will send the marchers on their journey.

«I have several members of my family that have been very involved in the first stages of the pro-life movement in part of the country,» Picket said. «With the passing of time, this terrible epidemic — abortion — has spread. We want to gather what can help mothers who choose life over death for their children.»

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