WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – Hundreds of pro-life protesters braved temperatures in the low 20s, snow, and high winds Thursday morning to stand vigil outside the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in northwest Washington, D.C., where they prayed for an end to abortion.

The vigil was held as part of a day-long series of youth-oriented events leading up to Friday’s scheduled March for Life.

On hand to give speeches and lead the crowd in prayer were notable figures from the pro-life movement, including Bryan Kemper of Stand True, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, Kristina Garza of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, and Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.

All had the same message for the mainly young crowd:  “This is the generation that will end abortion.”

“Do not rely on the politicians in Washington D.C.” to end abortion, Hawkins, of Students for Life, told her young peers.  “It is up to us to defund Planned Parenthood.  It is up to us to shut this facility down.  It is up to us to end abortion in our lifetimes.”

“We hate abortion because it is destroying our families and it is destroying our nation,” she said.

A small group of six pro-abortion counter protesters picketed the prayer vigil, carrying bold orange signs with “ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY” printed in large block letters and shouting insults at the crowd.  They chanted pro-abortion slogans loudly, but were largely ignored by those in attendance.  

At one point, a Planned Parenthood staff member emerged from the abortion clinic and asked the pro-abortion group to tone it down.  The group’s leader, a heavyset woman who appeared in her early 30s, lashed out angrily in return.  She accused Planned Parenthood of “conceding” to abortion abolitionists.  “You’ve even abandoned the ‘pro-choice’ label,” she screamed at the employee, “and that was wishy-washy to begin with.”  

She wasn’t the only one angered by the prayer vigil.  Several passersby became agitated at the sight of the demonstrators.  “Stop judging people,” one man yelled.  “Go do something productive with your lives.”   A woman made an obscene gesture as she walked past the crowd.  A few people became physically aggressive, pushing and shoving people as they passed through the throng.

Despite the critics and the cold, the crowd seemed in good spirits.  Smiling young people cheered the speeches by pro-life leaders and happily offered to pray for the counter-protesters. 

One pro-life woman, though, became emotional when an abortion clinic worker asked her to move off the pathway to the facility.  She held a sign that read, ‘I regret my abortion.’

“If someone comes, I promise I’ll move,” the woman told the clinic worker. 

“The path has to be clear,” the worker replied.

The woman moved, but appeared to fight back tears.  “I know what abortion does to women,” she shouted as the worker walked back toward the clinic.  “I’ve been there, done that.”