Opponents and supporters of legal abortion Tuesday marked the 18th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing most abortions in sharply different ways - with abortion foes rallying in the nation's capital and supporters pushing new laws to guarantee the 18-year-old right.
Buses bearing hundreds of abortion opponents - some 500 protesters from Rhode Island alone - rolled into a city fixated on the war in the Persian Gulf.Supporters of maintaining the legal right to an abortion introduced legislation in the Rhode Island Legislature that would broaden state abortion laws, including restoration of Medicaid funding - the health program for the poor - for "therapeutic" abortions, including ones for victims of rape or incest. Another bill would repeal a state requirement that women notify their husbands before they receive an abortion.
In Washington, the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights held a news conference charging abortion foes with distorting the language used in the volatile and emotional political and theological debate.
The group, made up nearly three dozen national Jewish and Protestant religious agencies, released a pamphlet, "Words of Choice," which decried many of the terms used by opponents of abortion. It took particular note of the phrase "unborn child," which it said "describes an (future) event as if it had already happened."
"Language can be used as a weapon to distort and confuse," said John Swomley, a Kansas City, Mo., theology professor.
Braving sub-freezing temperatures, with a wind chill factor of -7 degrees, abortion foes began rallying in late morning near the Smithsonian Institution's famed "castle" building to hear a host of speakers - including President Bush - and then march to Capitol Hill for an afternoon of lobbying for a constitutional amendment to overturn the 1973 ruling.