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The 2021 March for Life will be a virtual event, organizers announced Friday, because of the security situation in Washington, DC.

“The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life,” March for Life president Jeanne Mancini said in a Jan. 15 statement.

Donald Trump at the 2020 March for Life. Credit: The White House.

“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different,” Mancini added.

“A small group of pro-life leaders” will participate in an in-person event Jan. 29, she explained, which will be livestreamed.

The Pillar reported this week that March organizers had been telling group leaders until recently that the event would be much smaller than in years past, when the annual pro-life demonstration has drawn hundreds of thousands of attendees.

The Pillar also reported that Masses and other events connected to the March had already gone virtual, and that, as of Jan. 14, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington had not cemented his plans to attend the March.

After the Jan. 6 incursion of the Capitol Building by protesters, the area around the building has been fenced off, and scores of National Guard troops are expected to remain deployed in the region at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week. 

It is not clear what security would have remained in place by the time of the March for Life. Washington Metropolitan Police, still planning for the Jan. 20 inauguration, declined earlier this week to answer questions on plans for the March for Life.

The rally has in the past featured political speakers from both major parties. But after President Donald Trump became in 2020 the first president to attend the event, some attendees complained that Trump’s attendance amplified the event’s partisanship, and said his presence signified a tacit campaign endorsement.

Pro-Trump flags and signs have become common sights in the March crowds in recent years. Not clear is whether the 2021 march might have attracted demonstrators affiliated with fringe movements like “Stop the Steal,” or, amid the Trump impeachment process amplified counter-demonstrations.

Organizers of the West Coast Walk for Life, annually the second largest pro-life event in the country, told The Pillar Thursday that the San Francisco event will take place as planned January 23.