- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A decade of pro-life advocates “chipping away” at Roe v. Wade has shifted the momentum to their side and put pro-choice advocates on the defensive, experts on both sides of the argument said, even while the Supreme Court’s decision remains the law of the land.

Today, thousands of pro-lifers will march in downtown Washington for the 31st protest against the 1973 decision that struck down state laws against abortion.

“There’s been a cultural shift that’s taken place in this country,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “The public has clearly shifted to the side of pro-life. The public is recognizing more and more that unborn children are human beings.”

Elizabeth Toledo, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said pro-choicers have been put “on the defensive” by pro-lifers over the last 10 years. She said the pro-life movement also has been aided by a president who opposes abortion, along with a Republican-controlled Congress and state legislatures.

“It has been a shift in their strategy, when they couldn’t just wholesale overturn Roe,” Miss Toledo said. “They turned to just chipping away. They’ve had a lot more success with the chipping-away approach. … It’s been a strategy that’s required more sophistication on our part.”

Miss Toledo said Planned Parenthood has seen a “real dynamic response” from the pro-choice base to “the accumulation of a lot of different attacks on reproductive choice.” Pro-choice advocates are organizing their own march in the District on April 25.

The biggest advance for the pro-life movement was the ban on partial-birth abortion signed into law by President Bush on Nov. 5.

“The whole public debate over partial-birth abortion helped shift the culture more toward the pro-life side,” Mr. Perkins said. “It was an educational process.”

Miss Toledo said, “It’s a very significant and major move on behalf of the president to restrict access to abortion in the second trimester and beyond.”

The abortion debate has raged on in the last year even while other issues such as cloning, genetic engineering and homosexual “marriages” have taken center stage in the forum of public debate. But Miss Toledo said the issue is not going away.

“I would expect that these issues would remain front-burner, hand-in-hand with the other issues,” she said. “It’s more nuanced. It’s more complex. But fundamentally it’s still about the same core issues.”

Mr. Bush will speak by telephone from New Mexico to the pro-life rally that begins at noon today on the Ellipse. Several Republican senators also are scheduled to speak. Pro-life marchers, who organizers say have numbered in the hundreds of thousands in past years, will begin their march to the Supreme Court at 1 p.m.

Metro has announced that more trains and buses will run to accommodate people who attend the march.


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