The annual March for Life goes digital amid COVID-19, riots on the US Capitol

(RNS) – The March for Life will be virtual this year.

The online move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic “may be peaking” and is under the “increased pressure that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol,” according to a Friday Jan. Declaration posted on March for Life website two weeks prior to the event on the National Mall in Washington, DC

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“Protecting everyone who takes part in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement officers and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event is a top priority for the March for Life,” the statement reads.

The annual demonstration against abortion has been going on since the first anniversary of Roe v. Wade brought protesters to the country’s capital every year in 1974 to hear from speakers and march to the Supreme Court building to call for an end to abortion in the United States.

Delegations from Catholic and Protestant schools often travel from across the country to march.

Instead, this year a “small group of pro-life leaders from across the country” was invited to march on January 29th on behalf of those supporters who are invited to RSVP on the March for Life website for details learn Watch a live stream of the event.

Scheduled speakers are former NFL player Tim Tebow; Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; and JD Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of Franklin Graham and granddaughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, will lead prayers.

Previous speakers include President Donald Trump, who was the first President to address the March for Life last year, and Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke ahead of the event in 2017.

The announcement that the march would be virtual came not long after the National Park Service announced that the National Mall would be closed by Inauguration Day (Jan. 20) due to safety concerns following a riot by Trump supporters in the U.S. Capitol earlier this month close.

“We are deeply grateful for the countless women, men and families who make sacrifices to come out as witnesses for life in such great numbers each year – and we look forward to being together in person next year,” the statement said read from March for Life.

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