March for Life speakers promote care for pregnant women and children nationwide — By: Catholic News Agency

Jean Marie Davis, executive director of the Branches pregnancy resource center in Vermont, shares her inspiring pro-life story with the crowd gathered at the March for Life rally Jan. 19, 2024. / Credit: EWTN News

CNA Staff, Jan 19, 2024 / 15:35 pm (CNA).

At the 51st annual national March for Life, taking place in snowy conditions on Friday in Washington, D.C., keynote speakers strongly leaned into this year’s theme of “With Every Woman, For Every Child” by promoting the lifesaving work of nearly 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers across the country. 

Jean-Marie Davis, executive director of Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in Vermont, addressed a crowd of thousands on the National Mall, many huddled for warmth in the blowing snow and clutching homemade pro-life signs as they prepared to march to the Supreme Court building. 

Davis, a survivor of human trafficking who spent more than 25 years being bought and sold, told the crowds about how scared and alone she felt when she discovered she was pregnant with her now 8-year-old son, Jonah. A woman named Phyllis at a pregnancy resource center in New Hampshire befriended and assisted Davis and, throughout the course of Davis’ pregnancy and the birth of her son, introduced her to Christ. 

Now, as executive director of the pregnancy center, Davis helps numerous women and fathers in Vermont who are in a similar situation she once was in. 

“We are here for babies. We’re here to save souls and save lives. God bless you,” she said to the crowds.

Following Davis on the podium was Aisha Taylor, who told her story about how she became pregnant unexpectedly with twins. Desperate, she picked up the phone to schedule a procedure at an abortion provider. 

“Thank God, they did not answer the phone. I never made the appointment,” she said.

“But do you know who did answer the phone when I needed them? My local pregnancy center,” she continued, to cheers. “The woman listened to me cry and reassured me that everything was going to be OK. It was just what I needed to hear to come to that appointment instead of trying to call the abortion center again. And so I am eternally grateful that I found the pregnancy center.”

Taylor said she is “eternally grateful” to the pregnancy center for helping her choose life for her twins, but she said she knows that although she can never truly repay them, she wants to choose to “pay it forward” to other women who are in a similar situation. 

“I want to tell everyone marching today that your work matters,” Taylor continued. 

“It was people like you that allowed someone like me to choose life for my unborn twins. And there are so many people like me who need people like you to be there to give them hope and a pathway forward when they’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.”

“Thank you — your work matters, and we need you,” she concluded. 

Also speaking at the podium on Friday were numerous pro-life lawmakers, including Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. Both spoke about the importance of caring for mothers and children in need, repeating a common refrain heard throughout the march that the work of pro-life people is not over, despite the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Also appearing, to thunderous applause, was Antonio de Mello, a Brazilian pro-life father of 46 adopted children, all of whom are survivors of failed abortion attempts. He spoke to the crowds with the help of a translator. Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines football team, also made an appearance, introducing keynote speaker Benjamin Watson, a former NFL player. 

Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines football team, introduces former NFL star Benjamin Watson at the March for Life rally Jan. 19, 2024, in Washington, D.C. Credit: EWTN

Following the speeches, marchers began their trek through the snowy streets toward the Supreme Court building.

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