(CNSNews.com) - In a tense meeting at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday night, pro-life and pro-abortion groups braved freezing winds and sleet to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that said abortion is a privacy right protected by the Constitution.
Several women from the feminist anti-war group Code Pink were among the group of 50 pro-abortion protesters, the latter of whom comprised members of the National Organization for Women, its Action division, and the Feminist Majority.
"With regard to the war and this issue, it's very much the same thing," Liz Hourican, a Code Pink activist told Cybercast News Service. "This is about basic human rights - standing here and being able to take care of women. Take care of women first. This is my body. I should have the decision over my body."
In addition to the Roe v. Wade anniversary, Tuesday was the annual March for Life, in which tens of thousands of pro-life activists marched along Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., and up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court building.
Hourican further said that the war in Iraq needed to end before the issue of abortion should be tackled. "So if we are really thinking about 'thou shall not kill,' let's close down the war machine first," she said.
When asked if she would join the pro-life cause once the Iraq war was over, Hourican, however, said no. She told Cybercast News Service she would be willing to educate people and work with family planning groups that want to help women.
Code Pink was formed in 2001, during the days leading up to the war in Iraq. A statement on the group's Web site says its goals include ending the war in Iraq, stopping new wars, and promoting "life-affirming activities." The Code Pink women outside the Supreme Court were dressed in bright pink clothing and carried large signs bearing pro-abortion messages.
The activists from Action, the National Organization for Women, and the Feminist Majority, along with the few Code Pink women, gathered at 5 pm outside the Supreme Court to voice their support for Roe v. Wade, frequently chanting pro-abortion comments. Hear Audio
A few yards away, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign - a pro-life group comprised of women who have had abortions but now regret having done so - watched the pro-abortion demonstrators. The group's co-founder, Janet Morana, told Cybercast News Service that the difference in numbers between her group and the pro-abortion activists was significant.
"They are supposed to be so happy," said Morana. "Their signs say 'the 35th year anniversary of Roe,' and they are happy and celebrating. Well, if they are so happy, where are they?" in reference to the relatively few protesters.
But Melody Drnach, vice president of the Action arm of the National Organization of Women, said her organization works at the grassroots level.
"We only expected a couple dozen," she said. "If we want to organize a march, we bring out a million people. This is not traditionally a day we bring out the masses. Our members are in their local communities stressing the importance of protecting women's rights at a local level."
Hourican speculated that the difference in numbers was because religious universities had had bussed students in from around the country. "I saw thousands of busses today," she said. "My young women are all working. They are going to school. I would say when your school is bussing you in that it is easier than my friends who have to pay for their college."
Organizers outside the Supreme Court said that, by and large, courtesy was exercised by activists from both the opposing camps. However, protesters did shout at each other and occasionally crossed lines.
A human-ring formed by pro-abortion activists was encircled by pro-life activists, and several people even penetrated the circle with large signs bearing pro-life messages.
Drnach called that "bad manners," adding that one of the pro-life men had tried to knock a sign out of one of her protesters' hands. Morana complained that the pro-abortion group was trying to shout over the people in her rally. "I just wish they would listen," Morana said.
Make media inquiries or request an interview about this article.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Josiah Ryan
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.