The pro-lifers created a sea of colors on the Mall and on the march. Many were high school and college students. Hundred donned matching knit caps, scarves or identical jackets to identify their group; at least one group had its members wearing bright yellow ponchos. Still others held aloft big banners that announced their hometown, school and/or pro-life association.

Among others who spoke at the March for Life rally was Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., a member of the bishops’ pro-life committee. Before offering a prayer, he noted that many U.S. bishops were in the crowd with contingents from their dioceses. He introduced the Catholic bishops sitting on the speakers’ platform, including Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford, Conn., and Bishops Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, and Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla.

Other religious leaders included Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Brooklyn, N.Y.; prelates of the Orthodox Church in America, including Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada; and the Rev. Luke Robinson of Frederick, Md., pastor of Quinn Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Among lawmakers who addressed the crowd were U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California; and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. The Knights of Columbus and the “Silent No More” awareness campaign also had representatives on the platform.

Smith told the crowd the country received a wake-up call about abortion with the Jan. 19 indictment of a Philadelphia doctor, Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell, who routinely performed illegal late-term abortions for more than 30 years. He and some of his associates were charged in the death of a female patient and accused of murdering seven babies born alive.

Noting the number of young people at the rally, Smith said they know abortion “is violence against women and children” and that “women deserve better.”

Despite all the “breathtaking advances” in fetal medicine and today’s sonogram machines, supporters of legal abortion are in denial about the humanity of an unborn child, said Smith, who called the crowd to recommit to “ever more persevering prayer, fasting and hard work” to end abortion.

Wicker said that the next day he would introduce in the Senate the Life at Conception Act, to define when life begins and extend constitutional protections “to the most vulnerable in our society.”

After meeting in his office with students from his district after the rally, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio posted a video message on his website: “I’d like to thank everyone who participated in today’s March for Life, as well as those who continue to work hard in their home states. You should be proud to know that your actions have a positive and meaningful impact.”

He reiterated the new Republican majority’s pledge to ban tax dollars from paying for abortion. He noted that the Jan. 21 news conference he, Smith and others held to discuss the introduction of bipartisan legislation to codify the Hyde Amendment “and similar policies and ensure that taxpayer dollars are never used to pay for elective abortions.”

“Together, with the help of the American people we can make this common-sense legislation the law of the land,” Boehner said.