Washington Secrets

40th March for Life crowds could top Obama Inauguration

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The biggest crowds ever for the annual March for Life protest are expected to hit Washington January 25 as hundreds of thousands attend the 40th anniversary rally to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, according to organizers.

The march, expected to attract tens of thousands more than the record 400,000 two years ago, could rival President Obama's Inauguration Day crowd, propelled by the growing youth support of efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, which the president has embraced with open arms. Obama drew 1.8 million in 2009. Just 600,000 are expected January 21st.

One critical sign of how big the march will be: Hotels pre-booked for participants sold out a month ago while many Washington hotels report lukewarm interest for rooms during the Inauguration. In 2009, hotels sold out months in advance as an excited nation readied to welcome the first black president.

Jeanne Monahan, president of the March organizer, the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, told Secrets, "We're going to have record breaking crowds."

The events will start Thursday January 24 with a youth rally. Two new events will also take place: A Saturday 5K race and a legal summit for law students interested in abortion law. What's more, for the first time the March organizers plan to place Jumbotrons on the March route. And the March is also debuting a new website.

Monahan said that the focus will be on young supporters. "The spirit will be much more youth focused," she said. About 85 percent of marchers in the past have been students. Monahan added that the number of political speakers is being scaled back, though House Speaker John Boehner is expected to make a video address and the leaders of the congressional pro-life caucus will also speak.

The event will also herald the March founder, Nellie Gray, who died last August.

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