As abortion rates fall, opposition keeps up

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c. 2008 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON _ The anti-abortion pilgrims came from far and wide Tuesday (Jan. 22), by bus and by plane, bundled up in the cold and drizzle to support their cause.

For some, it was their first March for Life. For others, the event has become a yearly journey. On the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, their united message was clear: They are not satisfied with the declining abortion statistics. They want an end to all abortions, surgical and non-surgical.

And with the fall elections looming, they want a president who will staunchly support their cause in 2009 and beyond.

According to a recent national study, abortion rates and the total number of surgical abortions are steadily declining, while non-surgical abortion numbers are growing. For most of the marchers, those statistics do not represent an entirely positive trend.

“Those who are voiceless in the world need people to stand up for them,” said Cory Heiman, 20, a student at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and a supporter of presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. “Abortion is killing, whether it’s surgical or not.”

His brother, Kyle, 28, added that there is no difference between surgical and non-surgical abortion procedures _ such as the morning-after pill or RU-486 _ even if one makes women feel “less guilty.”

Paul’s campaign was the most visible of any of the presidential candidates, with signs bearing his name popping up amid a sea of tens of thousands of demonstrators along the National Mall. Young people handed out fliers declaring the candidate’s anti-abortion record.

Paul opposes abortion but thinks that abortion laws should be controlled by states, not at the federal level, according to his Web site.

His campaign held international appeal for Charlotte Buirma, 18, of the Netherlands. “I cannot vote in this country,” Buirma said, “but I would vote for Ron Paul if I could.”

First-time marcher Kevin O’Reilly, 40, of Chester, N.Y., is still weighing his vote between Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. There are many other important issues to consider in assessing the candidates, O’Reilly said, such as the economy and the war in Iraq.

“Abortion is the ultimate cause, though,” he said.

For some marchers, the abortion issue is more personal than political. Taungela Stone, 17, traveled from Birmingham, Ala., with her classmates from John Carroll High School. Her mother had to choose between giving birth or saving her own life, Stone said. She ultimately chose to give birth to Taungela, and later died.

Stone and fellow classmates said that they did not care about politics yet because they’re not old enough to vote. But when that day comes, they said, a candidate would have to be anti-abortion to earn their vote.

“God gives and God takes away,” Stone said. “It shouldn’t be our decision.”

KRE/PH END TROTTER500 words

A photo from the March for Life is available via https://religionnews.com.

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