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‘Culture of life’ emerging in America, president tells marchers

WASHINGTON (BP)–America has made “real progress toward building a culture of life” in the last three years, and his administration will continue to support that effort, President Bush told thousands of pro-life marchers gathered near the White House Jan. 22.

Speaking by phone from New Mexico, Bush urged those participating in the annual March for Life to “continue with civility and respect to remind our fellow citizens that all life is sacred and worthy of protection. I know as you return to your communities you will redouble your efforts to change hearts and minds, one person at a time. And this is the way we will build a lasting culture of life, a compassionate society in which every child is born into a loving family and protected by law.”

After a rally on the Ellipse between the Washington Monument and the White House, tens of thousands of pro-lifers marched eastward on Constitution Avenue past the Capitol to the Supreme Court. The march has occurred on Jan. 22 every year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws against abortion and granted women an expansive right to abort their unborn children on that date in 1973.

Southern Baptist public-policy specialist Barrett Duke took part in the march and said he was “especially impressed by the energy of this great gathering of people.”

“After 31 years, Americans’ burden to save the unborn from the gruesome practice of abortion has not waned,” said Duke, vice president of public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Despite desperate attempts at indoctrination by pro-abortion forces, most Americans still believe abortion is wrong. They showed up in Washington by the thousands, from all walks of life and every imaginable ethnic background, to demonstrate their common commitment to life for the unborn.

“Today’s march showed, once again, that the commitment to end the abortion tragedy in this nation transcends practically every conceivable ethnic, religious and ideological barrier,” he said.

Young people dominated the crowd, with many, if not most, of the marchers of high school age or younger. Judging by the signs, most of the marchers were Roman Catholics.

The marchers came to Washington this year at a time when many pro-lifers are pointing to encouraging signs for their movement. Recent polls have shown young people are more pro-life than older Americans and women are becoming increasingly pro-life. The abortion rate has declined. Bush and Congress have enacted some pro-life measures during his three years in office.

In his seven-minute telephone address, the president pointed to some of his administration’s actions, including the November signing into law of a ban on partial-birth abortion, which involves the killing of a nearly totally delivered child normally in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy.

There are other pro-life measures that need to be enacted, including a comprehensive ban on human cloning, Bush told the marchers.

“We can push the limits of medical science while maintaining the highest of ethical standards,” the president said. “Human life is a creation, not a commodity, and should not be used as research material for reckless experiments.”

Abortion-rights advocates used the Roe v. Wade anniversary to unveil their latest attempt to protect the 1973 ruling. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced the Freedom of Choice Act. The bill would codify the Roe decision as federal law, striking down state and federal limitations.

Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-choice America, said in a written statement that pro-choice advocates “are thrilled that leadership is acting now, before it’s too late. If President Bush is re-elected, Roe v. Wade will be in dire jeopardy as we face the likely retirements of at least two Supreme Court justices in the coming years.”

At the rally preceding the March for Life, many Republican members of Congress spoke, encouraging the marchers to persevere and to re-elect Bush in November.

Abortion-rights supporters have scheduled their own march for April 25 in Washington.

On the day before the March for Life, a newly released study said the 17 percent decrease in abortion from 1990 to 2000 stemmed largely from state legislation. The report by the Heritage Foundation suggested economic growth may have played a small part, but more likely it was pro-life laws passed by states that brought the reduction. Among the laws cited were ones requiring parental consent or notification, banning partial-birth abortions and mandating informed consent for pregnant women.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: COMPASSION IN THE CAPITAL and ADDING THEIR VOICES.