WASHINGTON — Nebraskans and Iowans joined the crowds Friday from across the country demonstrating in the nation’s capital against abortion.
Participants in the 46th annual March for Life talked about the importance of delivering a positive message to the world about their beliefs.
But Jeff and Brenda Davis, of Beatrice, Nebraska, also said that their first time attending the national march represented an opportunity to fire themselves up for the cause.
“It’s as much for us, for everybody from all 50 states, to then go home and take some of the energy and enthusiasm with them,” Jeff Davis said, as the family warmed up at a reception hosted by Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer’s office.
The couple brought two of their three daughters along for the event, which is traditionally held around the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a legal right to have an abortion.
The past couple of years saw marchers rejoicing at having an administration that sides with them on abortion issues.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife took the stage at Friday’s pre-march rally, while President Donald Trump addressed the crowd via a prerecorded video .
They touted abortion-related moves by the administration, from judicial appointments to reinstating a ban on federal funding to international organizations that offer or promote abortion services.
Republicans on Capitol Hill this week also promoted the many abortion-related proposals they’ve introduced.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., for example, re-introduced his Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require that newborns who survive abortions receive medical care and admission to a hospital.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Fischer were on the Senate floor advocating for policies ranging from the defunding of Planned Parenthood to a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
The Senate also voted on legislation to make permanent the prohibition on federal funding for abortion. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and the other senators from Iowa and Nebraska all supported the measure, but it fell well short of the 60 votes required to advance.
Many Americans continue to support abortion rights, and the recent midterm elections saw Democrats re-take the House, likely dooming any attempts to curtail abortion services through federal legislation. Marchers acknowledged that dynamic.
“I don’t know that there’s going to be a lot of governmental progress until something happens in the courts,” Jeff Davis said.
The crowd included busloads of Catholic school groups who made their way to Washington for the event.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., showed one group of those Nebraska students around the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.
Mia Tillemans, 17, a junior at St. Cecilia in Hastings, said it was her third time at the march. She talked about how the group prayed and got to know each other on the long bus ride from Nebraska.
And she said that despite the chilly January weather, the experience is worth it.
“We’re saving unborn babies,” she said. “It’s a huge deal.”