- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

As tens of thousands of abortion foes prepare for today’s 33rd annual March for Life, they are buoyed by developments they see as promising for their cause, both at the state and federal levels.

“The pro-life movement is in the best position it has ever been in,” said Wendy Wright, executive vice president of Concerned Women for America (CWA).

Pro-life advocates are excited about broad abortion bans proposed by lawmakers in two states, Ohio and Indiana.

It’s their hope that these bills become law and that the statutes are eventually considered and upheld by a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge to the Jan. 22, 1973, ruling in Roe v. Wade that abortion was a constitutional right.

“We’re seeing, after many years of education and work, that people are beginning to understand the pro-life movement. The culture is shifting to a more pro-life perspective,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which opposes abortion.

Miss Wright of CWA agrees. “The American public better understands what abortion has done to women and our country” by destroying innocent lives, she said.

The March for Life, sponsored by the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, is held annually in Washington, on or near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. March leaders have estimated the number of protest marchers each of the past two years at 100,000.

As usual, this year’s event begins with a noon rally. But unlike the past, it will not be held on the Ellipse near the White House. The staging area “will be on the Mall at Seventh Street,” march organizer Nellie Gray said. After the rally, the crowd will march along Constitution Avenue, passing Congress and ending at the Supreme Court on First Street Northeast.

Pro-life advocates make it clear they are optimistic the Supreme Court will be more favorable to abortion restrictions, with the addition of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and this week’s expected confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Judge Alito said he would have “an open mind” about any challenge to Roe v. Wade, while previous nominees such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer have declared Roe fundamental law.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said that Judge Alito “has not been confirmed yet” and that advocates for abortion rights are “still trying to defeat his nomination.”

She said she isn’t afraid of the abortion bans some states are eyeing. “I think any such law would be declared unconstitutional,” she said.

Pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike saw victory in a unanimous opinion the Supreme Court rendered Wednesday, when it said lower courts erred by ruling a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions was unconstitutional.

“The justices respected the law of the state and the right of parents to know if their minor daughter will have an abortion,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior analyst for bioethics with Focus on the Family, a pro-life group based in Colorado Springs.

On the other side, Ms. Saporta said she is encouraged that the Supreme Court asked lower courts to examine the potential for parental notification waivers in cases where a girl’s health is at risk in an emergency. At this time, waivers are permitted if a pregnant teenager’s life is at risk but not for health emergencies that are not life-threatening.

It’s still uncertain whether the Ohio and Indiana bills to ban abortions in those states will advance. Jon A. Husted, Ohio’s Republican House Speaker, said Wednesday he plans no more hearings on the measure.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican who opposes abortion, told the Associated Press on Wednesday he thinks the proposed abortion ban in that state has a “very limited prospect of ultimate success” until Americans become less divided on abortion.

In a report last week, the group NARAL Pro-Choice America gave 19 states a failing grade in reproductive rights. Ohio, Indiana and South Dakota made the list, as did Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

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