House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses the March for Life crowd gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The pro-life movement's most powerful tool lies in its ability to love, speakers said Jan. 19 at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
This year's annual March, the theme of which was "Love Saves Lives," was an historic event for numerous reasons -- it marked the 45th anniversary of the March, it was an uncharacteristically balmy 50 degree day in January, and it was the first time the event was addressed live by the sitting President of the United States.
"I want to thank every person here today who works with such big hearts to make sure parents have the care and support they need to choose life," President Donald Trump told the crowds from the White House via a satellite feed.
"Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential...you are the living witnesses of the theme 'Love saves lives,'" he said.
Some speakers shared personal stories of love in difficult moments and pregnancies to emphasize this year's theme during the March for LIfe rally.
One such story was told by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who was joined on stage by her family, including her 4 year-old "miracle" daughter Abigail, who punctuated her mother's remarks with questions and exclamations.
Beutler told the audience that while she was pregnant with Abigail, an ultrasound revealed devastating news -- their daughter was not developing vital organs properly within the womb, and she would likely suffocate to death as soon as she was born.
Beutler said that she and her husband were told the baby had a "zero percent chance" of survival, and that most parents in their situation opt to get an abortion.
"We prayed, we cried...and in that devastation, we saw God," Beutler said. Unwilling to abort, the couple sought doctors and experimental treatments that could give their daughter a chance at life. She said their love of their daughter and unwillingness to give up would save her life.
"Through divine intervention, and some very courageous doctors who were willing to take a risk, we now get to experience our daughter Abigail, who is a healthy, happy 4 year-old big sister," Beutler said. "She says that someday she's going to be the boss of mommy's work -- look out Speaker Ryan."
Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life told the crowd the story of Raquel, a scared pregnant woman who came to the sisters for help and told them that while she believed abortion was wrong, she could never tell another woman what to do.
That all changed one day when Raquel met a fellow scared pregnant woman in an elevator. She took the mother's hand and had her feel the kicks of her own unborn baby.
"Yeah, my baby's gonna be a linebacker. He's gonna be strong and he's gonna be blessed," Raquel told the woman. "Why is he gonna be blessed? Because he's here."
Raquel then told the woman that she would have a girl, and could name her Raquel Jasmine, after the "fabulous lady you met on the elevator."
Two years later, Raquel met the woman again at the doctor's office. She was pushing a stroller with twin girls -- named Raquel and Jasmine.
"It was such a small thing, this loving exchange, and the impact reaches in to eternity," Sister Bethany Madonna said. "You may not see the impact of your love, but God sees it. The love in your hearts is totally unique to you...and your love saves lives."
Other speakers addressing the March included Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Pam Tebow, the mother of former pro-football player Tim Tebow, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and well as Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church of America, and Bishop Vincent Matthews Jr., President of the International Missions Department of the Church of God in Christ.
Ryan encouraged the crowd -- mostly made up of young people, he noted -- that love is the reason the pro-life movement is on the rise in the United States.
"The pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side," Ryan said. "We believe every person is worthy of love and dignity."
"That's one thing that gets lost (in the political debate about abortion) -- just how compassionate the pro-life movement really is," he said. "I'm proud of what this movement has done for women who have gone through the pain of abortion, how it supports single mothers who are struggling to support their children...this is the face of the pro-life movement," Ryan added.
He also noted several pro-life bills that have been passed by the House in the past year, including the just-passed Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, which protects the lives of babies who survive failed abortions.
"Most importantly, we are striving to do all of this without judgement in our hearts, but with compassion and love for all of the victims [of abortion]," he said.
"Thank you for being here...this is one that we will win this day. Thank you. God bless you, tell everybody come back next year and bring three friends."