WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Speaking before a packed National Mall today at the 38th Annual National March for Life in Washington, D.C., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pledged that Republicans’ “number one priority” in the new Congress is to instate a permanent ban on taxpayer funding of abortion.

“Now the tide has turned.  There’s a new majority in town,” Rep. Cantor said.

Building on the momentum of the November elections, which brought in what many have argued is the most pro-life Congress since Roe v. Wade in 1973, this year’s rally before the March featured more Congressmen than ever before.

Congressman Chris Smith, the Republican co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, denounced President Barack Obama as the “abortion president” and called for an end to the “bigotry” against children in the womb.  “In order to sanitize the violence, the multibillion abortion industry systematically dehumanizes the weakest and most vulnerable,” he said.

The representative highlighted the arrest last week of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who has been cited on eight counts of murder after a Grand Jury found evidence that he killed hundreds of newborn babies as well one of his former clients.

“The tens of thousands of young people here today bravely defending the youngest people in America know that the killings in Philadelphia - and all abortion - is violence against women and children,” he said.  “They know that the only thing the multibillion abortion industry produces is victims and that women deserve better than abortion. They know that the pro-life movement loves, honors, deeply respects and welcomes post-abortive women who are silent no more.”

“Our young people know child abuse when they see it. And they - all of us - demand that it end,” he added.

Senator Roger Wicker (R, Mississippi) said America has faced a “three and a half decade long holocaust,” and called abortion a “stain on our national conscience.”

Rep. Dan Lipinski, the Democrat co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, was the only Democrat to speak.

Opening the rally, March for Life organizer Nellie Gray called abortion a “crime against humanity” and pledged that the pro-life movement will overturn Roe v. Wade.

The opening prayer was led by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who was joined on stage by five or six other Catholic bishops.  The prelate noted that unlike years before, most bishops were not on stage because they decided to join the march with their diocese.

Orthodox Archbishop Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, who was joined on stage by other Orthodox bishops, decried the “decades of despair” brought by “the moral decay of the plague of abortion.”  Other religious leaders included a contingent of Jewish rabbis, led by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, and Protestant Pastor Luke Robinson.

The March began at 2:00 p.m. after the rally on the National Mall, with participants walking to the steps of the Supreme Court.  The March is held every year around the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

The theme for the 2011 March is: “Thou Shalt Protect the Equal Right to Life of Each Innocent Born and Preborn Human in Existence at Fertilization. No Exception!  No Compromise!”

See a video of all the speeches here.