One of the first speakers at the annual event was Vice President Mike Pence

Tens of thousands of pro-lifers filled the grounds near the Washington Monument and marched up Constitution Avenue to the US Supreme Court on Friday.

This year’s March for Life – which takes place on or near January 22 to mark the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions in Roe vs Wade and Doe vs Bolton that legalised abortion virtually on demand – was the first time a vice president had attended the rally, with one of the first speakers being Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence, who has marched at the event before as a participant and addressed it as a congressman, told the crowd that “life is winning” and assured them the Trump administration was behind them.

Kellyanne Conway, special adviser to Trump, and the first on the speakers’ list to address the group, similarly got plenty of cheers when she said: “This is a new day, a new dawn for life.”

The scheduled presence of the vice president, only announced the day before, required the rally perimeter to be fenced in and the crowd to enter through long lines that had formed at security checks.

Jim Klarsch, a member of St Clement Parish in St Louis is involved with pro-life work with the Knights of Columbus at his parish. In Washington on his second march, he said the experience was “empowering.”

Standing alongside Constitution Avenue waiting for the march to begin, he said:
“You’re part of a pilgrimage. You take that experience home and you live it,” he added.

“This is a message of love,” said Bridget Donofrio, from Washington, holding aloft a poster-board sign with words written with a black marker: “Respect all women born and unborn.”

The city of Washington, fresh from the inauguration crowd and the women’s march held the next day, seemed prepared for this march.

On the Metro, when two older women asked a young woman for directions and pointed to the group with signs that they wanted to join, the woman looked up from her phone and asked if there was a protest today.

“It’s the March for Life,” one woman said. A few seconds later she added: “It’s not a protest; it’s more of a celebration.”