Thirty years ago on April 28, 1990, an estimated 700,000 pro-lifers gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Rally for Life.

Americans traveled by plane, car, and chartered buses for the event—including four busloads of Arkansans.

All told, about 300 people from Arkansas attended the rally in Washington.

The rally at the Capitol Mall featured several guest speaker — including President George H. W. Bush, who addressed the crowd via telephone. In his remarks, President Bush called abortion on demand “a tragedy.”

Dr. John Willke, President of the National Right to Life Committee, talked about a proposal to permanently ban the use of body parts from aborted babies in transplants. Failure to do so, he said “would create a huge demand for ‘spare parts’” from unborn children.

Dr. Willke passed away in 2015, just months before undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs and tissue harvested from the bodies of aborted babies.

Jacki Ragan with National Right to Life in Washington, D.C. played a key role in the event.

“I was in charge of the Rally for Life in 1990,” she said. “In 1989, Congressman Henry Hyde came to our office the week following a fairly large pro-abortion march in Washington, D.C.” Congressman Hyde told Dr. Willke that pro-lifers had to have a rally of their own. That’s how the 1990 Rally for Life came about.  

Jacki said Right to Life spent a year working with volunteers and churches to promote the event.

In many ways, the 1990 Rally for Life represented a milestone in the modern pro-life movement.

At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, and state legislatures generally had not handed America any pro-life victories, pro-lifers still turned out by the hundreds of thousands to defend the unborn.

That’s something worth remembering.