January 21, 2011 ( – In an American tradition that has now grown stronger than ever, the return of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade has awakened the sleeping giant of American pro-life conviction, with tens of thousands of those unable to attend the national March for Life in Washington D.C. joining dozens of local rallies across the country.

About 2,000 marchers marched from the University of South Carolina to the State House in Columbia last Saturday, where they listened to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum offer a keynote speech. “The pro-life battle is being fought at the bedsides of the very young, the very old and the disabled,” said Santorum. “This isn’t a debate we should even be having. Life should be respected at all levels.”

A similar rally drew about 1,500 in North Carolina.

In Augusta, Maine, hundreds gathered in the snow at St. Michael School, where they were joined by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Later, participants marched to and formed a human chain around the State House as a bell struck once for each year since Roe v. Wade.

Bells were also rung in Birmingham, Alabama, where Christians joined in prayer as a bell tolled 52 times – one for each million American children legally killed by abortion.

On Sunday, hundreds flooded a hall in Boston for the Massachusetts Citizens for Life Assembly for Life; on the opposite coast that day, a crowd gathered in Salem, Oregon, to hear Archdiocese of Portland Archbishop John Vlazny speak against the barbaric practices of modern abortionists.

“The promoters of abortion used to argue that it should be made legal to protect women from notorious back-alley abortionists,” said the archbishop. “They keep talking about making abortion ‘safe and legal. Now they enjoy the protection of law and are virtually unregulated. 

“The abortion industry in the United States continues to harm countless women while destroying more than a million children each and every year.”

On Friday, hundreds of Kansans marched in strong winds on the capital, where Gov. Sam Brownback addressed the shivering crowd. “Never forget that this message is one of kindness, hope and compassion,” Brownback told the crowd, which reportedly included more than a dozen state senators and representatives.

Other gatherings took place in cities including Colorado Springs, Colorado; Helena, Montana; and Olympia, Washington. 

Among the most significant upcoming marches are the Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco on Saturday, expected to draw 35,000 pro-life participants, and the Rally for Life in Dallas, where 10,000 are expected. More rallies will be held in several locations throughout America, including Hartford, Connecticut; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jefferson City, Missouri; Sacramento, California; and Wausau, Wisconsin.

As the week full of prayer and high hopes came to a close, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser testified to the heartache pro-lifers experience as they contemplate the ongoing national tragedy in the leadup to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“On the 38th anniversary of the tragic Roe v. Wade decision, we hold heavy in our hearts the 52 million lives lost and the countless mothers hurt by the horror of abortion,” said Dannenfelser. “But with this great sadness comes great optimism. Americans have shown in poll after poll, and especially in the last election, that they find ‘pro-choice’ rhetoric empty of meaning and find abortion-friendly policies a violation of their consciences.”