WASHINGTON – A line of mostly women marched past the U.S. Supreme Court and around the U.S. Capitol arguing that the legality of abortions is in serious peril because of potential pro-life nominations to the Supreme Court this summer.
"We need you here in Washington more often,” Kate Michelman, president of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, told the crowd before the march, “to make sure that no nominee that isn't pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-environment, pro-gun control gets confirmed.”
"This is a civil right. This is a human right. This is your right,” said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, the organization responsible for committing the most abortions in the United States.
The march kicks off a four-year campaign to challenge the views of President George W. Bush.
"The man who in 1998 declared he would do everything in his power to restrict abortion now has a great deal more power and he clearly intend to use it,” said Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, which lead the march. She cited Bush's executive order banning taxpayer subsidies for abortions overseas and the appointments of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Health Secretary Tommy Thompson as proof.
In the route of the march, pro-life counter-protestors gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court with signs reading “Face it, abortion kills.”
"We are here today to repudiate the silly notion that the National Organization for Women speaks for all women, or even a majority of women,” said Katie Mahoney, spokeswoman for the Christian Defense Coalition. “We reject the cleverly disguised reference to freedom that claims our 'reproductive lives’ include the killing of our own children.”
Mahoney noted that early feminists were as opposed to abortion as they were slavery and inequality. “Alice Paul, author of the original Equal Rights Amendment, said in 1923, ‘Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
Wendy Wright, spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America, said that today's self-proclaimed feminists aren't fighting for women at all.
"'Reproductive rights’ is a misnomer, as these radical feminist groups do nothing to help women who want to reproduce,” said Wright. “In fact, they are fighting — not on behalf of women — but for abortionists, most of whom ironically are male.”
When the pro-abortion marchers walked past the pro-life counter-protesters, they began shouting, “Pro-life is a lie; you don't care if women die.” Signs with vulgarities or references to genitalia were not uncommon among the abortion supporters.
Erik Whittington, a spokesman for Rock for Life, was unimpressed with the size of the abortion march. He noted that this year's March for Life, held in January, was so packed that it filled an entire street for sixteen blocks, whereas this abortion rally walked on just one side of the street, and was thinly-sparsed over six blocks.
"Sure they got 3,000 people,” Whittington told the Register. “But we have 75,000 every year for over 20 years and what kind of press do we get?”
After the march, abortion supporters gathered on the Mall and listened to more speakers as well as entertainers. Folk singer Sandy Rapp dedicated a song to the “Roman Catholic hierarchy.” The lyrics included, “White men in black dresses/Be afraid of the all” and “These men in high places/have blood on their hands.”
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, focused on mercy and trust in a prayer service at St. Peter's Catholic Church during the rally, located just two blocks from the Supreme Court building.
"We pray for conversion for ourselves and for those in need of forgiveness and mercy for their involvement in abortion,” said Cardinal McCarrick.
He reminded counter-protesters that they have an obligation to treat others with the same love that God has for his people.
"There is no limit to God's mercy, so there shouldn't be any limit to our mercy — even for those who are most vocal against the Gospel of Life,” he said. The timing of the abortion march caught the cardinal's attention.
"It is ironic that those who aren't with us today have chosen this day, Mercy Sunday,” said McCarrick. “This is a day for us to pray deeply. We should trust in his love for us, in his love for those involved in the sin of abortion, for all of us who are sinners.”