On the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, approximately 5,000 demonstrators gathered at the Supreme Court Wednesday to both protest and support the 1973 decision to legalize abortion. The demonstrations were relatively peaceful, with no arrests, according to police.
Pro-life demonstrators began their protest at the National Mall and walked up Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court, where they met pro-choice demonstrators. Protesters carried signs that read, “Abortion is a Weapon of Mass Destruction” and “How Can I Bless A Nation Sullied With the Blood of Unborn Children?”
“Groups like Planned Parenthood kill almost 200,000 babies every year, and we support them with our tax money,” said Edward Callahan, a member of the Christian group Faith of Truth Tour. “Abortion denies God the opportunity of being blessed by another person’s life.”
Abortion opponents said the current administration is their best chance in years to possibly reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.
President George W. Bush, in Saint Louis, Mo., during the protests, made a phone call broadcast to send his support to anti-abortion protesters. In the phone call, Bush supported legislation banning late-term abortions, referring to the procedure as “abhorrent.”
Many pro-life demonstrators had religious objections to the medical procedure, associating the right to life with the will of God.
Meanwhile, on the steps of the Supreme Court, GW sophomore Melinda Cooperman waved a wire hanger in her left hand, a device popularly used by women to abort fetuses before abortion was made legal in 1973, and in her right a poster that said “Save Roe vs. Wade.”
Debra Hadricks, a student from Alexandria, Va., said her religious values did not impinge upon her belief in the right to choose an abortion.
“I myself am very religious and I don’t see why it is an equitable argument against abortion,” Hadricks said. “My class was canceled today, and I took that as God’s way of telling me that I had a mission to come here and show that religion should be accepting of anyone, even someone who may have different beliefs.”
Wednesday’s demonstration showed a shift from gruesome displays used by some anti-abortion protesters in the past toward sympathy and help for women with unwanted pregnancies.
“Many anti-abortion protesters realized that showing bloody fetuses and screaming at people outside of abortion clinics just wasn’t working; women just walked past them,” said Sarah Branspeigel from the National Coalition of Abortion Providers. “Now, many pro-life activists will make pleas to women that they are on their side and want to help them.”
Rivers Teskee, founder and president of Unplanned Parenthood, said her organization supports women choosing to abort and also those who choose to give birth.
“My organization provides a win-win situation for women,” said Teskee, whose daughter became pregnant after a date rape. “We are not trying to combat abortion, but offer another choice and a chance for women.”
In addition to yesterday being the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, concern has mounted among pro-choice advocates that with the Supreme Court judges supporting abortion by a slim 5-4 majority, Roe v. Wade could be overturned in the near future.
“As I celebrate a woman’s right to choose on this 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I sadly realize that this right could be taken away by Supreme Court justices,” said Jordan Fitzgerald, a field manager with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “If abortions are made illegal they won’t stop – it would merely take away an option that women have and mean that women would be forced into other deadly options such as ‘back-alley’ abortions.”