WASHINGTON (AP) – Thousands of abortion opponents confronted wind chills in the single digits Wednesday to rally and march on Capitol Hill to protest legalized abortion, with a signal of support from Pope Francis.
The annual “March for Life” is held every January on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. The event draws many Catholic high school and college students from across the country for a series of events and prayer vigils that led up to a rally and march on the snow-covered National Mall.
Francis, who has emphasized a broader focus on poverty beyond divisive issues, sent his support for the anti-abortion march.
“I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers,” the pope tweeted. “May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
President Barack Obama also issued a statement Wednesday, saying the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is a chance to “recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.”
The president also said the nation should resolve to protect a woman’s access to health care, her right to privacy and to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
The theme of this year’s march is “Adoption: A Noble Decision,” as an alternative to abortion, organizers said.
Abortion protesters came from Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and beyond. The crowd included many young people, including high school and college students from Chicago, Cleveland and elsewhere. Many held signs that read “(hash)TeamLife.”
While there were mostly cheers and upbeat chants, the crowd booed when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said there had been an expansion of abortion coverage in the nation’s health care overhaul.
Beverly Miller, 39, of Mankato, Minn., made her first trip to join the march with her 15-year-old son Joseph and youth from their church. Her local diocese rented buses and drove 20 hours to the nation’s capital.
“When we get together in a group like this and we see that there’s hundreds of thousands of other people like us, it gives us strength and courage and hope that we aren’t alone. If we stand together, we really can make a difference,” she said.
The march began on the National Mall with a rally. Then protesters marched along Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets