WASHINGTON (BP) – Thousands of Americans braved snowy conditions Friday, Jan. 19, in support of the pro-life cause during the 51st annual March for Life.

This year’s March for Life gathering marked the second time the event has been held since the historic overturning of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 2022, returning abortion legislation to the states.

Several members of the ERLC staff attended the 51st annual March for Life Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C.

It was the court’s Roe decision, handed down in January 1973, which inspired the first March for Life event, held the following year in 1974.

Since that first March, pro-life Americans (including many evangelical Christians) have come together each January near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to support the cause and re-affirm their commitment to protect unborn children and care for their mothers.

The event is understood to be the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration.

Among those marching Friday were many staff members of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

ERLC policy director Hannah Daniel advocates for pro-life causes year-round through the Leland House located on Capitol Hill.

“Each year, the March for Life is an opportunity for the pro-life movement to come together and refocus our efforts on the goal: saving lives,” Daniel said.

“The theme of this year’s march, ‘With every woman, for every child,’ points to the road ahead. As we continue to work towards a day where abortion is illegal, we must also come alongside women who are vulnerable with care and support, empowering them to choose life.”

For Julie Masson, ERLC director of communications, marching is a family affair.

“This is my fourth time participating in the March for Life, and each year I’m amazed at how many different people come to D.C. for this event,” Masson said.

“I’m joined this year by my teenage daughter, and it’s been wonderful to see the March through her eyes. The March for Life is another opportunity for the ERLC to communicate our commitment to advocating for the most vulnerable among us. We will continue to serve mothers and save lives through our public policy priorities.”

This year’s March for Life takes place just two days before Sanctity of Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Jan. 21, marking the 39th year of observance of the day on the SBC Calendar.

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood, right, joined U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, left, a former ERLC trustee, at the 2024 March for Life Jan. 19. Johnson addressed the crowd at a pre-march rally.

Additionally, 16 different states will host their own March for Life rallies in the coming weeks.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said there are developing plans for a March for Life event to happen in all 50 states in the next few years.

Mancini opened the pre-march rally by explaining the importance of this year’s theme.

“The theme for the March for Life this year is ‘With every woman, for every child,’ because that is the heart of what the pro-life movement is about, helping mothers and babies fully, humanly flourish,” Macini said.

“Studies have shown that 60 percent of women who choose abortion would have chosen life if they felt that they had more support. And not only that, but 1 in 4 women who choose abortion are coerced to have that abortion. What does a woman most need when she is facing an unexpected pregnancy? She doesn’t need fearmongering. She doesn’t need shame. What she needs to hear is, ‘You’ve got this, and I will help you.’ She needs to know that someone will support her in this act of courage and bravery. She needs to know that she is not alone.”

Macini said even though Roe v. Wade was overturned almost a year and a half ago, the efforts of the pro-life cause are far from over.

“Our work to build a culture of life is far from finished,” Macini said. “We will keep marching every January at the national level as well as in our states until our nation’s laws reflect the basic truth that all human life is created equal and is worthy of protection.”

Macini then introduced one of the first guests at the event, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson.

Johnson, who was elected to the Speakership last fall, is a Southern Baptist and has served as a trustee for the ERLC. (See related story about Johnson’s comments.)

Other speakers and guests at the March included Grammy-nominated CCM artist Danny Gokey (who sang the national anthem), retired NFL star Benjamin Watson, Michigan University head football coach Jim Harbaugh, and several Congressmen including U.S. Representative Chris Smith (N.J.).

The last speaker at the rally before the attendees began to march the streets surrounding the Capitol was Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, a Southern Baptist congregation in Riverside, Calif.

Laurie shared some of his story, recently portrayed in the movie Jesus Revolution, and the Gospel message with the crowd. He then led them in a prayer of invitation for salvation.

“We don’t just care about being born, that’s very important to us, but we want you as Jesus said to be born again and have eternal life,” Laurie said.