WASHINGTON – Anti-abortion activists took to the streets Tuesday to defend what they say is a fetus’ right to life to mark the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.
“It’s the most tragic decision that any court has made in all of human history,the Roe v. Wade decision,by which government took into its own hands the arrogant effort to deny human rights,the right to life itself,” said Father Frank Pavone,national director of Priests for Life,a group that encourages clergyman to mobilize for anti-abortion efforts.
Pavone,based in New York,was joined by about 200 protesters at a vigil held outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in downtown Washington,where the group prayed for women who have visited the clinic for abortions and those who will do so in the future.
“We do not condemn the women who have abortions,because we know that they are our sisters,” Pavone said. “We know that they do not go to abortion clinics because of freedom of choice,but because they feel they have no freedom and no choice.”
The Guttmacher Institute reports that there were 1.21 million abortions in 2008,down from 1.31 million abortions in 2000.
“We throw away food wrappers so easily. We’re so used to throwing away. Well,these babies are being thrown away in the millions every year,” said Father Denis Wilde,associate director of Priests for Life based in New York,and who led the group in worship.
The gathering was sponsored by the Charismatic Episcopal Church,which also staged a “die-in” on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House. Midday,dozens of children and teenagers lay on the ground to commemorate the millions of terminated pregnancies since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973,as other read abortion statistics aloud.
Other anti-abortion groups also went to the White House to have their say in the debate.
Christyn Dupre,a teacher at Mount Carmel Academy,traveled from New Orleans.
“We are here in solidarity,joined in prayer … for those who can’t pray for themselves,” Dupre said. “To show that every human life is sacred from womb to tomb and to show the dignity of the human person to those who either don’t know it or don’t recognize it.”
Mitchell Branch,15,a member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church,traveled from Winter Haven,Fla. He said he has a personal connection to the cause because the parents of his best friend from childhood had at one point considered abortion.
“I was really devastated about that because my friend,my best friend since childhood,almost wasn’t there for me throughout my entire life,” Mitchell said.
In the Roe v. Wade decision,the court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy covers her right to an abortion until the third trimester,when the fetus is considered viable. States may place limits on abortions in the second trimester,but not the first.
Several groups are expected to join for the annual March For Life on Wednesday,when protesters will walk from the National Mall to the Supreme Court.
Snow began falling as the protesters stood on the sidewalks Tuesday. As much as 7 inches of snow may fall by the end of the day. March for Life announced on its website that the march will not be canceled due to inclement weather.
Reach reporter Melhor Leonor at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. SHFWire reporters Caitlin Turner,Griffin Moores and Alejandro Alba also contributed to this story.