As hundreds of thousands of people braved sub-freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C., on Friday to join the anti-abortion protest March for Life, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to banning abortion in America for good.
Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it's time for anti-abortion activisits to "commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life." Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.
"For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work," Boehner said. "In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment."
Boehner said he will make it a national priority to "help make abortion a relic of the past."
"Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year," he said.
The March for Life attracted a diverse crowd of young and old protesters from across the country. Hundreds of parents had bundled up their infants and toddlers and strapped protest signs to their strollers. Michael Kennedy, 33, and his wife Bethany, who is pregnant, drove their four children down from Westerly, Rhode Island to stand in 20-degree weather on the Mall.
"They're troupers," Bethany told HuffPost. "We felt like we have a responsibility just to be a witness to everyone else, to see that this is life, our children. We needed to be here."
Several lawmakers made it out to the protest to address the crowd in person. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) touted a bill she recently introduced that would strip Title X family planning funds from Planned Parenthood, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delivered a sermon that called for a "spiritual cleansing."
"Our nation is adrift, adrift in a wilderness where right and wrong have become subservient to a hedonism of the moment," Paul said. "I believe our country is in need of a spiritual cleansing."
He added, "We much preach a gospel so full of compassion, a gospel so full of justice that it cannot be resisted. Then and only then will the law again protect the innocent."