Does This Photograph Show the 2019 ‘March for Life’?
A Facebook post claimed this image showed record attendance at the 2019 anti-abortion rally but that it was being suppressed by the media because of ideological biases.
Estimated 650,000 MARCH FOR LIFE IN D.C.! So thankful that we are seeing so many stand up for the innocent babies being killed every day in this nation. Over 2500 babies a day are killed in the USA. Over 61 million have been murdered since a leftist 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade. It’s time to turn the page and reverse this barbaric, pagan, law of sacrificing infants. Babies lives matter!
According to the poster, the photograph was captured at the annual March for Life on January 18, 2019. In a comment, the original poster accused the media of deliberately refusing to run the image because of its bias against anti-abortion positions:
The leftist owned media does not show the March For Life, because their owners also own abortion clinics, pharmaceutical companies, medical supplies, etc. All of which are making billions in abortion murder industry. It’s a money thing.
However, that is not true. There was a reason that the photograph did not accompany reporting on 2019’s March for Life in Washington, DC, as a quick reverse image search immediately revealed, but it had nothing to do with the media’s ideological biases, either real or imagined.
This photograph originally appeared online in March 2018 — nearly a year before the 2019 event, and doesn’t show the March for Life; it shows the turnout for the 2018 March for Our Lives, which was advocating for gun control, not opposing abortion.
The same image appeared in Vox’s March 24 2018 article, “The March for Our Lives, explained”:
Thousands rallied in Washington, DC, [in March 2018] for a March for Our Lives protest to advocate for gun control. Thousands more joined them at other marches in cities large and small across the country.
Their motto is “never again.”
The march marked most dramatic and powerful show yet of teenage activism against gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Close to a million students stood up and streamed out of classrooms across the country last week as part of the National School Walkout, which honored the victims of the Parkland shooting one month ago and called on lawmakers to pass gun control legislation. Another national school walkout is planned for April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
In Washington, protesters rallied along Pennsylvania Avenue starting at noon — though students, parents, and others began showing up with their signs much earlier. The demonstration was expected to draw as many as 500,000 people to the nation’s capital.
Although Vox initially estimated the crowd size for the student-organized March for Our Lives in 2018 as approaching 500,000, actual attendance far outstripped that projection. On the same day, TIME reported that 800,000 people attended. Organizers had prepared for the smaller figure of 500,000 attendees.
As for the March for Life 2019, organizers expected around 100,000 attendees. Estimates of actual attendance after the march were difficult to come by due to the media frenzy that followed an incident at that event involving students from Covington Catholic school and Native American activist Nathan Phillips.
The highest estimate we could find from the 2019 March for Life organizers was between 200,000 and 300,000 attendees, about a third of the number of people who attended 2018’s March for Our Lives. It’s possible that the 650,000 number cited in the Facebook post originated with reporting on the rally’s history, along with the highest-ever attendance (in 2013) possibly approaching that number:
Though attendance has fluctuated over the years, the event has expanded dramatically since a Labor Department lawyer turned activist, Nellie Gray, organized a protest outside the Capitol on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. (Reporting at the time suggested that the 1974 rally attracted about 6,000 attendees, though the organization now claims 20,000 were there.) At its peak in 2013, shortly after Obama’s second inauguration, organizers estimated that 650,000 activists participated. Even if that’s a Trumpian overestimate, a crowd of half that size would be remarkable for an annual event focused on a seemingly intractable, if hot-button, policy issue.
Notwithstanding how many people attended 2019’s March for Life in Washington, the photograph shows a different demonstration with indisputably massive attendance — the 2018 student-led March For Our Lives, which was held in support of gun control.