Washington (dpa) - Abortion opponents from across the U.S. marched
Friday in Washington on the 40th anniversary of a court ruling that
legalized the procedure.
Thousands of people gathered near the Supreme Court and Capitol for the march, which coincided with the anniversary of the landmark ruling known as Roe vs. Wade. Protestors called the court ruling a sad commentary on US society's attitudes toward women and their unborn children.
Participants, including many young people, gathered under a large banner that read We Are the Prolife Generation. They carried large bunches of yellow balloons and heavy crosses on their shoulders through the frigid, sub-zero weather in the capital.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, addressed the group, vowing to work for passage of a bill banning taxpayer funding for abortions.
"It's about promoting a culture of life," Boehner said. "Human life is not an economic or political commodity, and no government on earth has the right to treat it as such."
Abortion has historically divided Americans. Anti-abortion groups say it denies the most basic human right, while groups that support keeping it legal say it is a health matter between a woman and her doctor. Thousands of women died of illegal abortions before the ruling.
A recent poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed that a majority of Americans consider the procedure always legal (31 per cent) or legal most of the time (23 per cent). Only 9 per cent consider it always illegal and 35 per cent said it was mostly illegal.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said the US movement remained more committed than ever to protecting unborn children and providing alternatives to women who don't want to keep their babies.
"Every year, abortion takes the lives of more than 1.2 million unborn children, leaving their mothers susceptible to emotional and physical risks," Tobias said in a statement. "In our society, no mother should ever feel like abortion is her only option and no unborn child should ever be considered expendable."
Some of the participants in Friday's demonstration in Washington were pro-abortion activists who held signs declaring their support for the 40-year-old law.
Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, Pro-Choice America, said when American voters have had a chance to vote on proposals that would restrict abortion they have rejected it.
"Fundamentally we believe in the right and the privacy of women to make these decisions and not in the politicians that either sit in the statehouse or here in Washington DC," said Keenan on CNN.
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