WASHINGTON (AP) — Anti-abortion demonstrators from around the country marched through Washington to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to protest a landmark court decision that legalized abortion.
The annual event took on added significance for many in the crowd because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that created a constitutional right to abortion in some circumstances. The demonstrators, carrying signs with messages such as "Defend Life" and "Defund Planned Parenthood," shouted chants including "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go."
They packed sections of the National Mall and surrounding streets for the March of Life.
"I just felt this 40th year marked a huge anniversary for the law," said one demonstrator, Pam Tino, 52, of Easton, Mass, who also participated several years ago. "Forty is a very important year in the Bible as well, in terms of years in the desert. And I just felt like maybe this year (there) was going to be something miraculous that might happen. We might see something going forward with the cause."
With the re-election of President Barack Obama, she added, "we just have our walking papers. Now we just feel like we have to keep the battle up."
The large turnout reflected the ongoing relevance of the abortion debate four decades after the Jan. 22, 1973 decision.
It remains a divisive issue with no dramatic shift in viewpoint on either side; a new Pew Research Center poll finds 63 percent of U.S. adults opposed to overturning Roe, compared to 60 percent in 1992. Earlier this week, abortion opponents marked the anniversary of the court decision with workshops, prayers and calls for more limits on abortion rights. And even as Obama this week reaffirmed his commitment to "reproductive freedom," state legislatures continue to consider varied restrictions on a woman's ability to receive an abortion.
In Mississippi, for example, the state's only abortion clinic said it received notice Friday that the state intends to revoke its operating license. The clinic's operator has struggled to comply with a 2012 state law that requires anyone doing abortions at the clinic to be an OB-GYN with hospital admitting privileges.