Protests mark anniversary of landmark abortion ruling

WASHINGTON Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:07pm EST

1 of 6. Rev. Richard Simon leads pro-life advocates during mass at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in suburban Hillside, west of Chicago, Illinois, January 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans on Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, even as battles over the contentious issue have largely shifted from the federal courts to statehouses.

Dozens of protesters braved frigid temperatures to gather in front of the Supreme Court on the anniversary of the landmark January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal in the first three months of pregnancy. With a companion ruling, the decision declared abortion a constitutional right.

Anti-abortion activists spread 3,300 flowers out on the Washington sidewalk to represent the number of abortions they said took place daily in the United States.

Away from Washington, about two dozen abortion rights activists rallied in front of Mississippi's sole abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson.

The supporters, including the National Organization of Women, said they wanted to celebrate the ruling and show that the fight to preserve women's rights continued.

"Choice is good," said Alex McInick, 18, a student at Millsaps College in Jackson. "Nobody should be able to tell someone what they should do to their body."

Across the street, Roy McMillen, 69, an anti-abortion activist, said the procedure led to social ills that cost everyone.

Surrounded by graphic posters of aborted fetuses, McMillen said, "The worst thing that happened in the 20th century was the advent of birth control and the legalization of abortion."

The protests and others this week come in the wake of a Pew Research Center poll which found that most Americans remained opposed to overturning the decision, with opinions little changed over two decades.

"Millions of women have been bruised and diminished. Our country has violated the principles on which it was founded," the Reverend Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition told reporters outside the Supreme Court.

Mahoney was nearly drowned out by a handful of abortion rights activists who chanted "Abortion without demand and without apology" and profanity-laced slogans.

Mahoney said the anti-abortion movement had been energized by the re-election of President Barack Obama, who favors abortion rights and backs Roe v. Wade.

Despite his abortion rights stance, Obama has been a "silver lining" since he had helped move anti-abortion campaigns to the state and local level, away from federal policy-makers, he said.

The highlight of Washington events is expected to be a March for Life rally near Capitol Hill on Friday, with former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum among the scheduled speakers.

The rally, which has drawn thousands of protesters in past years, will be followed by a march on the Supreme Court building.

Separate prayer services also are scheduled in Washington by the National Pro-Life Religious Council and the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Among other anti-abortion events, the conservative Family Research Council is hosting on Friday its yearly ProLifeCon, which gathers bloggers, activists and lawmakers.

Abortion rights campaigners have few Washington events scheduled around the anniversary, with NARAL Pro-Choice America promoting "Blog for Choice Day" on Tuesday.

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights organization, said this month that 2012 brought the second-highest number of state-level restrictions, trailing only 2011.

"More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age (15-44) now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights, whereas fewer than one-third did a decade ago," the group said in a statement.

Recent Washington fights over reproductive rights have centered on Obama's healthcare law. The Senate in March rejected a Republican measure that would have let employers opt out of birth control coverage and other services on moral grounds.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Emily Le Coz in Jackson; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

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Comments (5)
Electra225 wrote:
You state “ruling that made abortion legal in the first three months of pregnancy.” It’s my understanding that it is legal until the child/baby/fetus is viable (survive outside the uterus).

Jan 22, 2013 6:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Azza9 wrote:
“Across the street, Roy McMillen, 69, an anti-abortion activist, said the procedure led to social ills that cost everyone.”

So does allowing another bitter, unwanted life in to the world. Pro “Life” people like to say “you could be killing the next Einstein or Mandella” you could also be stopping the next Hitler or Adam Lanza from being born… So the hypothetical “societal ills” are cancelled out by the hypothetical societal benefit.

But TBH I find abortion outside of the event of rape and health concern to be rather selfish. Snuffing out a potential life because you lack self control I find ethically unpalatable. And I don’t buy the whole needing abortion to have control over your body either… Women have the SAME level of control as men do. We can keep it in out pants, you can close your legs. Abortion actually gives women MORE control over their bodies then men do, not 100% sure if I find this unfair though. Of course we do not live in a world were everyone is responsible and has self control, I myself am not a paragon of virtue and I don’t expect others to be.

To force a woman to give birth to a child they do not want only creates more resentment, in the mother, in the child and eventually in society. This resentment can only turn in to something bad for everyone pro “life” and pro “choice” included.

I think abortion should be permitted even in the case of reckless promiscuous behaviour. But I would not pose it as a RIGHT but as a CONCESSION to women to correct a societal imbalance. Feminists rage on about having control over their own body but ultimately they are affecting another’s body (the baby/ foetus). Even though I don’t regard a foetus as a full human life capable of suffering. The genetic material that makes up the foetus is not a part of you despite it’s dependence on you for survival.

However.

I am not your average religious fundie, I do not adhere to an ancient and equally irrelevant piece of literature, I’m an atheist. So I can see the necessity of an abortion service to society without being clouded by dogma of religion.
I do see that there is an imbalance of consequence when it comes to reckless promiscuous behaviour between men and women. If a man knocks woman up he can be 5 states over before the woman even finds out she’s up the duff, unlikely situation but it happens. Without abortion the woman will cop all the consequence leaving the man relatively scott free. This is creates an imbalance between genders.

While I find getting an abortion in this case to be unethical and selfish. It’s unfair to leave all the responsibility and consequence to the woman. As it takes two to tango both parties should be responsible and if they aren’t both should be held accountable for the unwanted life. But with reckless pregnancy it’s hard to find the man and make him accountable, so for the sake of fairness abortion I think it should be allowed as a concession for this imbalance.

Getting the right to abortion should not be seen as a win, it’s really a consolation prise then a progression in equality. I’m Pro accountability/ responsibility.

Jan 22, 2013 11:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CF137 wrote:
Azza9, that is a very well reasoned view that I found myself agreeing with. Abortion seems like it’s just another political view that’s been hijacked and polarized by the left and right (either all good or it’s all bad.) There are a lot of morally gray areas in the debate that most people do not want to talk about that I think you covered very well.

Jan 23, 2013 1:32am EST  --  Report as abuse
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