People walk up Constitution Avenue headed toward the U.S. Supreme Court while participating in the 47th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. The 2021 March for Life in Washington will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing political unrest in the nation's capital. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For the first time since 1974, when it first began, the message of the national March for Life to participants is: Stay home.

Like the satellite events connected to the annual National Mall rally and march to the Supreme Court, including the Rose Dinner, a youth conference and the Mass for Life, the rest of it will be online only.

March organizers had already hired a production company to make a livestreamed event possible in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.

But the plan was still to have as large a live rally as could be arranged. Many of the bus caravans from the Midwest, long a staple of the event, were canceled last fall as a result of the pandemic, and the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 and threats of subsequent violence by domestic terrorist groups, as reported by the FBI, made security impossible.

"The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life," Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement issued late Jan. 15.

"In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol ... the annual rally will take place virtually and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the march virtually."

There will still be a small in-person presence. "We will invite a small group of pro-life leaders from across the country to march this year," Mancini said.

"These leaders will represent pro-life Americans everywhere who, each in their own unique ways, work to make abortion unthinkable and build a culture where every human life is valued and protected," she added.

Marches in recent years had drawn at least 100,000 participants, and last year's event, when President Donald Trump spoke at the rally, was believed to have had the largest attendance in its history. The smallest March for Life previous to this was in 1987 during a snowstorm, and drew an estimated 5,000.

The march is held on or near the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand.

The National Park Service closed "core areas" of the National Mall Jan. 15. They will remain closed at least through Jan. 21.

Most marches and prayer vigils affiliated with the March for Life at state capitols are still planned, and some have already been held. State marches have been postponed in Arkansas and Oregon, and an online alternative has been announced in Oregon.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

Pope Francis is pictured with religious leaders during an interreligious meeting on the plain of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq, March 6, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis' prayer at the interreligious meeting at Ur, Iraq on Saturday, March 6.
Pope FrancisMarch 06, 2021
Pope Francis receives flowers from children during a welcoming ceremony with Iraqi President Barham Salih at the presidential palace in Baghdad on March 5, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
While churches and mosques have been built for centuries in close proximity to each other, the relationship between those who worship God inside these sacred houses of prayer has not always been as close.
We asked our editors and staff at America to share some of their favorite recipes as a corporal work of mercy: to (help) feed the hungry.
America StaffMarch 05, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has called the Mississippi and Texas orders "ill-advised."