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Mr. Obama has said that he would sign the bill if passed by Congress.

“I’m scared of the bill; we need to protect our babies,” said Adrienne Washington, 49 of Lynchburg, Va.

Before the march began, around 18,000 young people attended a rally at the Verizon Center near Chinatown, where they listened to an address by Pope Benedict XVI, relayed by Archbishop Pietro Sambri, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

“His Holiness is deeply grateful for your outstanding annual witness for the gospel of life. The Holy Father encourages young people to make their voices heard on this burning moral issue,” Archbishop Sambi said.