Antiabortion activists mark Roe anniversary

They see Roberts, Alito and younger activists as signs of a turning tide against abortion.

Published January 24, 2006 1:13PM (EST)

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have articles today about the upbeat and well-attended antiabortion rally held yesterday in Washington to mark the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Antichoice protesters estimated the crowd size at 225,000 to 250,000 people, but Washington, D.C., police said it was more like 70,000.

Though the Times notes that "in most respects, the rally was similar to the 32 that preceded it," there was a "major shift in spirit and tone this year" because of the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court and the likely confirmation of Samuel Alito, both of whom do not support abortion rights.

"We've made so many strides, waiting to get to the end of Roe v. Wade," Helen Sandor, a retired elementary school teacher from Pittsburgh, told the Times. "Now, it's like there's a light through the darkness."

Besides being positively giddy about the current direction of the Supreme Court, activists also touted technological advances, such as clearer sonograms, that they believe will make it "harder to argue that a fetus is not a person" and said they were buoyed by the growing number of young people in their movement. The Post noted that some young activists wore cheerleader jackets, black leather outfits with studs and T-shirts that read, "Abortion is mean" and "Sex is good, the pill is not." Wait. What?

In a charming speech, Nellie Gray, the president of March for Life, the group that organized the rally, told the crowd that she predicted the United States would hold the equivalent of Nuremburg trials for "feminist abortionists," calling support for a woman's right to choose "crimes against humanity."

"Roe v. Wade has brutalized our country," she said. "The feminist abortionists, look at the evil they are doing. From that will come an accountability." The Times reports that Gray's "fiery" words were met with "strong applause" and "more than a few supporters held high signs that compared abortions in the United States to "Hitler's Holocaust."

Like I said: Charming.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America told the Times that Roe represented fundamental American values such as personal responsibility and privacy, and she referenced recent polls that found that 65 percent of Americans do not want Roe overturned.

Calling all "feminist abortionists": Let's make sure we do everything we can to make sure it's not.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

MORE FROM Lori Leibovich

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