- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators yesterday rallied on the frozen, snow-covered Ellipse, and then marched to the Supreme Court as part of the 32nd annual protest against the high court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion.

The “March for Life” protesters were buoyed by President Bush, who has espoused pro-life views and likely will appoint at least one Supreme Court justice during his second term.

In a telephone address to the demonstrators from Camp David in Maryland, Mr. Bush said “the strong have a duty to protect the weak.”

“We are working to promote a culture of life, to promote compassion for women and their unborn babies,” the president said. “We’re making progress in Washington.”

During Mr. Bush’s first administration, Congress passed a ban on a late-term procedure called “partial-birth” abortionand outlawed as a separate crime harming a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman.

“On … one of our coldest days, I encourage you to take warmth and comfort from our history, which tells us that a movement that appeals to the noblest and most generous instincts of our fellow Americans … will not fail,” Mr. Bush said during the two-hour rally.

Mr. Bush has addressed the rally by telephone each year he has been in office.

John Audretsch, 62, of Clare, Mich., stood with a large handmade banner that read: “Michigan loves our pro-life president.” Mr. Audretsch, who was attending his 21st march, said he was “more hopeful” than in the past.

“But I also believe we’re doing God’s work to protect the unborn, and I’ll trust God to take care of the results,” he said.

With temperatures in the teens, some protesters said the cold made it difficult to concentrate on the stream of speakers who addressed the crowd from a stage on the Ellipse.

“We can’t feel anything,” said Mary Abert, 13, of Phillipsburg, N.J., who had boarded a bus at 6 a.m. with classmates from Saints Philip and James Catholic School.

“I think abortion is wrong and cruel,” said Astrid Hernandez, 13, a classmate of Mary’s.

Many Catholic youths attended the rally and march with their parish youth groups or with leaders from their Catholic schools.

Mark Cameron, 25, of Fairfax, said more and more young people are getting involved in the pro-life movement.

“We’re making progress,” said Mr. Cameron, a march volunteer from the Catholic men’s service group Knights of Columbus. “A lot more people are becoming aware on this issue.”

After the rally, the pro-life demonstrators marched to the Supreme Court, where they were met by about two dozen pro-choice activists — all employees or interns for the National Organization for Women (NOW). The pro-choice activists stood by silently and waved blue-and-white “Keep Abortion Legal” signs in a counterdemonstration.

“We’re just here as a silent presence,” NOW employee Leanne Libert said. “We had a vigil and rally on Saturday. Now we are letting them have theirs.”

Mr. Bush is expected to name a replacement for Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who is battling thyroid cancer and appeared feeble during Mr. Bush’s swearing-in ceremony last week.

Yesterday’s rally and march were the culmination of a weekend of pro-life activities that included activism and training by Rock for Life, a group that educates and mobilizes young people for pro-life causes.

Sen. Sam Brownback spoke at the rally, along with several other members of Congress.

The Kansas Republican has introduced the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, which would require doctors to read a statement informing mothers of the pain felt by unborn children and to give them a brochure with more detailed information before performing abortions.

“The end of abortion-on-demand has started,” Mr. Brownback said.

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