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Winter storm downsizes D.C. 'March for Life'

| Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, 2:57 p.m.
Luke Torrance | For the Tribune-Review
Ed Hoyt (left) and Mark McMillan, both from Butler, share a laugh during the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Washington.
Luke Torrance | For the Tribune-Review
U.S Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, (left) listens to a speech by Iowa Senator Joni Ernst on Friday, Jan. 22, 2015, at the March for Life rally in Washington.
Luke Torrance | For the Tribune-Review
Ed Hoyt (front) and Christine Nagowski, both from Butler, take part in the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Washington.
Luke Torrance | For the Tribune-Review
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina addresses the crowd at the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The snowstorm that battered much of the eastern United States kept many of the 70 buses bringing people from Western Pennsylvania to the annual March for Life in Washington parked at home Friday.

“It was just too dangerous, and the parents were concerned about their children,” said Amy Farrell, a teacher at Oakland Catholic High School.

Many who did make it made an early exit.

“The issue of pro-life is more important than the snowstorm,” said Ed Hoyt, 64, who led a contingent from St. Paul's Catholic Church in Butler. “But when it's 3 o'clock, we're making a beeline for the bus.”

Dark gray clouds, heavy with snow, swirled above the Washington Monument as demonstrators gathered Friday morning on the National Mall. Cold winds nipped at the crowd, and snowflakes began falling heavily as they made their way toward the Supreme Court.

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik was among those who came home early, but he said he was encouraged by the attendance. He gave the homily at the 7:30 a.m. Mass at Catholic University of America's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and said the pews were filled with hundreds of people. Among them were students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Moon

“Young people are the easiest targets for a more secular culture, and to see more people coming (to the march), that's really encouraging,” Zubik said.

Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, stood onstage at the rally near the Washington Monument before joining the exodus. Rothfus did not speak but told the Tribune-Review earlier that he would work to defund groups like Planned Parenthood.

“If there is an opportunity to stop taxpayer funding for organizations that promote abortions, then we certainly should be doing that,” he said.

The highest-profile speaker at the rally was Carly Fiorina, a long-shot Republican presidential candidate. Anita Theiss, 64, a member of the group from Butler, said Fiorina has her vote.

“I don't think she's going to get the nomination, though,” Theiss said.

Luke Torrance writes for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire.

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