Thousands rally against abortion on Capitol Hill
An anti-abortion protestor prays silently in front of the Supreme Court as an officer looks on.
January 24th, 2011
05:59 PM ET

Thousands rally against abortion on Capitol Hill

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Thousands of abortion opponents joined Monday afternoon in a cold march on Capitol Hill, beginning on the National Mall and ending at the Supreme Court building.

Saturday marked the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal throughout the United States. Organizers planned the rally for Monday so marchers could visit with their congressional representatives to express their opposition to the law.

As thousands of bundled-up marchers walked up Constitution Avenue, some prayed the rosary, feeding wooden rosary beads through gloved fingers. Others held signs calling for the government to "Defund Planned Parenthood."

Barbara Murray, a real estate agent from Havertown, Pennsylvania, who is Catholic, came down by bus with a group of 80 others. She said she has high hopes for the new GOP majority in Congress.

Last week Republicans introduced legislation to ban all federal funding for abortion. House Speaker John Boehner, during his weekly news conference, said, "A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people and it ought to be the will of the land."

Murray and others at the rally were looking for ways to fight abortions beyond overturning Roe v. Wade and were energized by a recent suggestion from Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who greeted marchers Monday on Capitol Hill and will be the keynote speaker at a March for Life dinner Monday night.

"I'm thrilled to death with her," Murray said. "One of the things she said she wants to do is defund Planned Parenthood. If we do that, we don't have to worry about the law as much."

As much as abortion opponents want the law changed, she said, "if we can defund the whole business and get rid of the whole abortion business in our country, the law can be on the books, but we have to make sure that we protect every single child and that's unborn and born."

Christopher Pushaw, an attorney from Wayne, Pennsylvania, marched alongside Murray as they made their way past the Capitol in matching knit caps with "Pro-Life" stitched on the front.

"I'm a lawyer and abortion is the law of the land and I have to respect that because it's constitutional. Morally and spiritually I think it's repugnant," Pushaw said.

"So I think it's more of an educational mission at this point. I would love to see it be overturned but part of it is just witnessing now, you know, a critical mass of people saying this is wrong and we oppose it even though it's the law of the land," he said.

Pushaw said there are different approaches within the anti-abortion movement.

"There's the Genocide Project down there," he said pointing back a few blocks. "It's that visceral depiction of what happens in an abortion, and I think that, for me, is a little polarizing. But I don't question their conviction in doing it. I'm just more trying to make it as non-sectarian and educational as possible in keeping the conviction. You don't need to scream. There's 100,000 people and the statement is made load and clear."

The rally drew from many parts of the country. Marchers held banners from churches in Missouri and parochial schools in New Jersey. Many of the marchers were young.

Alex Perry, 16, and Will Stancil, 17, were given the day off from their school. They attend a Catholic high school in Hyattsville, Maryland, where, they said, many of their friends and classmates are pro-choice.

"There's very few who are pro-life in our school, even though it is encouraged," Perry said.

"Nobody forces it on you. No one tries to sway you one way or the other. Everyone knows it's a really personal decision," Stancil said.

Heather Dougherty, a Catholic from Pittsburgh, said that for her the march was intensely personal.

"I've been marching all my life because I was an unplanned pregnancy," she said. "My parents were in college, they weren't married, and rather than abort me, my parents chose to give me up for adoption. And so I was blessed that she chose life."

She added, "I think we need to come at it from all sides. You can't just change the laws. You have to change the hearts of the people who are looking for it. You need to make people aware adoption is an option if they can't support a child."

About 15 abortion rights supporters stood outside the Supreme Court building as the march unfolded. They chanted and held signs of their own, imploring the court and Congress to keep abortion legal.

U.S. Capitol Police said there were no arrests as a result of the march and counterprotest.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Belief • Catholic Church • Church and state • Courts • DC • Politics • United States

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soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. KMT

    Not thousands. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS.

    January 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  2. Tonya Cuatto

    Thousands of people march on Washington year after year and it barely makes the news! Perhaps because it is because the march is PRO LIFE! Wonder why that would be in this democracy of ours? Wonder what the coverage would be like if the march were for gay rights or a womans right to "choose"? Seems to me like the media and or our pathetic government is excercising their "right" to control what the population sees and hears. Makes one wonder now doesnt it?

    January 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
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    March 2, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  6. holymolyman

    For the people who are pro-choice,
    I am just wondering, have you even researched the actual process of an abortion?? The things they do to those poor babies is comparable to the actions of Hitler. Do you believe Hitler had the right to do what he did just because he was the man with power, and that was his right? Im pretty sure most of you would agree with me that what Hitler did was unmoral and 100% wrong. So i advise to you all, (even if you are Pro-life!!) to do some research on abortion. I garentee that it will send chills up your back and hopefully make you think twice of which side you are really on.

    March 1, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  7. Terry Hawco

    theres the problem...you do not even recognize the fetes…what about its rights. You are CLEARLY foggy on that point.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  8. Clearly

    No one's forcing you to get an abortion. If you don't want an abortion, don't go to the clinic, don't get one. Isn't that what religious types say when it comes to pushing religious beliefs on someone else? 'You don't have to pray', 'you don't have to listen', 'you can leave the room when we pray'. 'You don't have to take the bible class in public schools, it's an elective.'

    I don't see how someone getting an abortion takes away the rights of those who doesn't want to.

    February 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Clearly2

      I don't see how someone getting an aborting takes away the rights of those who don't.* Thank you NyQuil.

      February 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Anon011

      How about it takes away the rights of the baby that is being murdered you fool.

      January 26, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  9. Terry Hawco

    It is truely amazing how many peaple blame god for human actions. God gave man free will...true freedom to do as we see fit. The reason for this is to judge a persons true values. A good example would be ...if a cop is on the corner watching your actions, you will do what is legal...but if he is not, you will do as you wish ...legal or not. But god does not stand on the corner checking your every action, you are free to do as you wish...even murder...while you are on this earthly plain. After our lives are over, all our actions can be tallied and a true value can be figured. Now if god stepped in every time we crossed the line, the same peaple who blame him for all our actions would cry what a dictater he was. it would also make it hard to find the true value of a person. God gives us true freedom here...not the false one sold to us by our earthly masters. if you beleive in god or not, you know when you are doing something wrong .In the mid 1700's a group of peaple were considered non-humans,with no rights and nothing more than property. This caused a civil war in America to right this wrong. 250 years later we have another group of peaple being treated even worse(like garbage to be thrown away). Those who support this had better hope there is no GOD, for there will be hell to pay!...GOD HELP US ALL.

    February 3, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  10. duncanmac

    before voting on abortion they should consult this site http://www.nakedlife.org

    February 1, 2011 at 4:04 am |
  11. Anderson Marques

    The society is declining, Hitler did what he did because he thougth "good" extermination of a race. Today, abortions are killing millions of undefended children. Many of then could become a great men, bring progress to humanity, but selfish of parents prevented this.

    January 27, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Don

      Selfish people like you would deny a woman her right of self-ownership.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  12. Dawnmarie0817

    Here's a accurate link on the numbers and the media bias.


    January 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  13. Catherine

    The current status quo has led to the death of nearly 50 million unborn children.

    Just in case you didn't know.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Ykcyc


      There are millions of homeless already born children that are starving to death every year.

      Just in case you didn't know.

      January 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Don

      Outlawing abortion denies a woman her right of self-ownership.

      Just in case you didn't know.

      IOW: you are the aggressor.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • gerald

      Who owns the baby insider her Don? Who? That baby is not her....

      January 31, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Peace2All


      Hi Gerald...

      I am curious... So, do you believe that there are -0- exceptions to a female terminating a pregnancy...? In other words, are there -0- conditions in which a female is allowed to terminate the pregnancy...? None...?


      January 31, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Don

      The womb is hers, Gerald. It's not the fetus' womb; it's her womb.

      February 2, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  14. Catherine

    As an aspiring journalist and someone who attended the this years March for Life, I can say with absolute certainty that CNN has downplayed the amount of concerned citizens who attended the march. The entire National Mall was packed shoulder to shoulder with people bearing signs with slogans that supported life. The photos that CNN has posted show a Washington that is sprinkled with people rather than packed with protesters. This is poor journalism, but beside the point.
    The point is that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". These words found in the The Declaration of Independence, are well known to all Americans. They foundation of our great and glorious country. However, the "unalienable Rights" of the unborn have been violated every day since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. I would also like to add the the March for Life is not about religion or faith.(Granted those who attended the march were of various faiths and denominations) The purpose of the March for Life is to stand up for the children in the womb who have no voice and turning our culture of death into a culture of life.

    January 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Don

      Outlawing abortion would violate the woman's right of self-ownership.

      Just in case you didn't know.

      January 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  15. gerald

    Dave your funny.

    "I am an atheist. I am pro-choice. I am also 100% behind gay rights. I am neither immoral nor unethical. I just don't let a Bronze Age god dictate my morals to me.

    I have been married to the same woman for more than 30 years. I have never been arrested, or accused of any crime. I give to the local food bank. "

    In other words you believe in subjective morality. Why are the things in the last sentence moral and the things in the first not? Why would something be a crime? Why is it good to give to a food bank. Good doesn't exist if there is no God Dave. For what is good to you is not to someone else who chooses to hoard their money and spend it on themselves. You have no right to call what you do "good". It would oppose them and therefore be offensive, like the offense atheists take when one professes their religion, and which you feel compelled to stomp down at every turn. Just admit it Dave. Your not good because there is no such thing as good. Just something that strokes your nuerons differently than another's. And if another person wants to cheat on his wife as opposed to your fidelity and monogamy, you can't call that bad. Because you have no basis for bad and good. Some believe abortion bad. You imply that it is not. Is it only bad because they believe there is a god. Well there are atheists that believe abortion is bad Dave. I'm just thinking out loud here. But I think you have some issues that I find rather fascinating and funny and inconsistent in your criticism of Christians. I think the whole language of bad and good and feelings about self, even in you are heavily influenced by Christianity and a belief in God. i.e. the condept of bad and good.

    January 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Don

      Good does exit without god. Only someone plying a flagrant non sequitur would state otherwise.

      January 26, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.