The annual March for Life — traditionally held in the nation’s capital — will take place virtually this year due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and heightened pressure on law enforcement.
“The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini in a statement Friday.
“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different.”
Friday’s decision came in the aftermath of riots at the U.S. Capitol last week which resulted in multiple deaths, arrests, and fresh articles of impeachment for the president.
The March is occurring on Jan. 29, roughly a week after President-elect Biden’s inauguration.
The largest annual gathering for U.S. anti-abortion activists, the March for Life has been estimated to draw upwards of 100,000 people who walk in protest from the National Mall to the Supreme Court every January. It’s usually held on or around the anniversary of the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.
This year, however, Mancini is asking participants to stay home for a virtual gathering on Jan. 29.
“The annual rally will take place virtually, and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the March virtually,” she said.
“We will invite a small group of pro-life leaders from across the country to march in Washington, D.C. this year. These leaders will represent pro-life Americans everywhere who, each in their own unique ways, work to make abortion unthinkable and build a culture where every human life is valued and protected.”
The March typically features a variety of anti-abortion speakers. Last year, President Trump became the first U.S. president to speak at the March. In 2019, the March caught attention for a high-profile confrontation that occurred between Covington Catholic High School students and a Native American activist.
In September, the March hosted a virtual theme announcement. This year’s theme is “Together Strong: Life Unites”