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A large, enthusiastic crowd turned out Sunday for March for Life Chicago.March for Life Chicago Facebook page

Update January 22, 2019: This report has been updated with a final attendance estimate from March for Life Chicago.

CHICAGO, January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As pro-lifers from across the nation prepare to gather in Washington, D.C. this week to stand against abortion, thousands already gathered this weekend to demonstrate their support for life in the Windy City.

After a dinner Saturday evening featuring remarks by March for Life Chicago president Dawn Fitzpatrick, national March for Life Education and Defense Fund president Jeanne Mancini and West Coast Walk for Life coordinator Eva Muntean on Sunday saw pro-lifers march the Chicago Loop starting and eventually returning to Federal Plaza, WGN 9 reported. The march broke attendance records with more than 8,000 attendees, organizers say

“We mark with deep sadness the great tragedy of the legalization of abortion in the United States along with the devastating social, moral, and legal consequences that have followed,” the March’s website says of its purpose. “Our vision is that, marching together in hope, we call upon religious, civic, and community leaders to renew every effort to build a nation that affirms the authentic dignity of women and men, the gift of children, and a culture dedicated to protecting life at every stage of development in law and love.”

Mancini and Radiance Foundation president Ryan Bomberger served as the event’s keynote speakers, and marchers heard remarks from Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod president Dr. Matthew Harrison, Chicago Bears co-owner Pat McCaskey, Reps. Darin LaHood and Dan Lipinski, and more. Sunday also saw a youth rally with music and multiple Masses for life.

Photos of the turnout show packed streets with enthusiastic men and women of all ages bundled up and bearing signs proclaiming “right to be born,” “abortion takes a human life,” “a person’s a person no matter how small,” and more.

Among the speakers was a young woman named Rayanna, who along with her little girl appeared onstage to attest to how Illinois pro-life pregnancy center Aid for Women helped her choose life. (Her remarks begin 14 minutes into the below video).

“I initially felt scared and overwhelmed, I felt that I would be so judged. That’s what led me to my first decision of abortion. I didn’t know what to do next, so I went online and the first thing that came up was Aid for Women,” she explained. “The woman on the phone was so understanding, she offered me a free ultrasound and said that we could talk about all of my decisions. When I went to my appointment at Aid for Women and saw my ultrasound, I cried. I was able to see her whole body; she was my breathing little person.”

Rayanna went on to detail how Aid for Women gave her a place to stay, parenting resources, and loving support she says helped her grow up. “Going to Aid for Women was the best decision of my life,” she said. “They gave me so much, they helped me through a very difficult time, provided me and my baby a home, and made me feel like I had hope again.”

Several hundred pro-abortion counter-protesters also gathered across the street from Federal Plaza, with one young organizer making the bizarre claim to the Chicago Sun-Times that “neo-Nazis and white supremacists find cover among the Pro-Life protesters, with their view being women should be incubators to perpetuate white supremacy.”

“They know the importance of the life issue and unfortunately they're on the wrong side of it,” pro-life protester Daniel Pribble told WGN of the counter-protest. “They might have a civic right to be here, but they don't have the moral right to be here.”