WASHINGTON – This year's March for Life is already turning out to be historic, with Vice President Mike Pence now topping the list of speakers.
It's the first time a president – or vice president – has ever attended the nation's largest pro-life gathering.
Even before the March for Life began, the nation's capital was filled with pro-life activity. Many participants marched over to the new Planned Parenthood mega-center in Washington to protest outside its doors.
"They're the largest abortion chain in America," 40 Days for Life co-founder David Bereit told CBN News. "According to their own annual reports, last year Planned Parenthood committed 323,999 abortions, almost one out of three abortions in America."
A main goal: getting the federal government to stop its taxpayer funding of this abortion-provider and give that money to medical centers that don't abort babies.
"Take that half-billion dollars that's being used to harm and to hurt and shift it to places that can help and heal," Bereit said.
"I don't feel that women who say they want an abortion really feel that way. They're just panicked and that's a knee-jerk reaction," Tom Glessner with the National Institute Family & Life Advocates said. "When they come to a pro-life pregnancy center, they get life-affirming alternatives. They see that there's people who care about them. They see that there are resources that are going to empower them to choose life."
The day before the march, the protest wasn't all that was taking place. The March for Life used to be just the march itself, but now all sorts of activities and events surround it.
There was a youth rally with young people pouring in droves into a hotel ballroom.
A March for Life expo featured pro-life clothing, books and even colleges, where CBN News met up with Joe Scheidler, the man known as the godfather of the pro-life movement.
Scheidler has been on the frontlines since 1973, the year the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe vs. Wade. He's chronicled that adventure in his new book Racketeer for Life.
"I quit my job as an account executive for a P.R. firm in Chicago and went full-time pro-life. It was at the suggestion of my boss. He said, 'Joe, you've lost interest in everything but fighting abortion,'" Scheidler said.
Another activity on Capitol Hill – mothers who almost aborted or gave up their babies go to lawmakers offices to advocate for pro-life pregnancy centers with Heartbeat International.
This year, Nikki Pinkley told how she was a just-graduated high school student desperate over a crisis pregnancy.
"I was thinking about adoption. I didn't know what to think," Pinkley recalled.
But a pro-life pregnancy center talked her into keeping the baby girl she named Alexis, who's now a teenager.
"The volunteer and staff were supportive of every decision. They were with me every step," Nikki said. "I'm thankful for everything, but especially (for) my daughter, Alexis, who's growing into a beautiful, smart and talented young lady."
"I can't imagine life without my mom. So, yeah, I'm glad," Alexis said.
But the counselors at that pregnancy center gave her much more than advice. They also gave her lots of support and encouraged her to get her degree and become a professional counselor.
"How they helped me, I wanted to help others and give back," she said.
Back at that Planned Parenthood protest, 40 Days for Life President Shawn Carney was reminding pro-life activists what's really on the line when it comes to abortion, describing it as "the most brutal act in our nation and one that needs hope."
"Nobody grows up wanting an abortion," Carney said. "And when we're there, we can offer hope. We can offer love. And look at the reward for that: It's a beautiful baby made in the image and likeness of God."