The march aligns with the week of the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year, as per tradition, in an anti-abortion response to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. The event was founded in 1974 by anti-abortion activist Nellie Gray, and typically attracts about 100,000 participants hailing from across the country. The plan is to continue the event until Roe is overturned, according to the march’s organizers.
Crowds had assembled on the National Mall on Friday morning well ahead of the event’s 12 p.m. ET kickoff time. There was a festival-like atmosphere as music blared from speakers near the main stage. Many in attendance, including priests and school tours, had come from across the country to attend, some wearing pins and buttons. Among the messages on printed signs were “Love Life / Choose Life,” “Save the Baby Humans” and “Pro-Life Voices for Trump.”
Nancy Weber, 57, of St. Charles, Illinois, told CNN she left home at 4 p.m. Thursday in order to make the 15-hour drive to Washington to “show our support for life.” She said an unplanned pregnancy earlier in her life, which resulted in her giving the child up for adoption, helped change her views.
“What is a world without children? Our greatest asset is people,” she said. “So I do believe adoption is the loving option.”
The Nieves family of Connecticut, calling themselves “lifelong pro-lifers,” made the decision to attend this year’s march before they knew Trump was speaking.
Although he’s “not a huge Trump fan,” said 22-year-old Matthew Nieves, “it’s fantastic that he’s supporting this.”
An ally of anti-abortion rights movement
Trump regularly discusses the need to restrict abortion rights on the campaign trail and has taken numerous actions in office to do so.
The Friday event — themed “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman” — will feature a rally on the National Mall at noon followed by a march that concludes at the steps of the Supreme Court. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, and GOP Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey also are slated to speak at the march.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.