About 600 abortion protesters march in Missouri

Saturday, January 22, 2011 | 6:58 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Hundreds of anti-abortion protesters from around Missouri marched to the state Capitol building Saturday to mark the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared federal laws banning abortion unconstitutional.

About 600 protesters gathered near the governor's mansion and the Missouri Secretary of State's office around 10 a.m., waving signs and singing Christian hymns as they walked up the steps of the Capitol. The protest was one of several that will happen this weekend around the country to mark the Jan. 22 anniversary of the ruling. A march in Washington D.C. is planned Monday.

The line of protesters near the governor's mansion stretched nearly a city block, despite cold morning temperatures, waiting to begin a walk organized by two anti-abortion campaigns, America Asleep kNOw More and 40 Days for Life.

Kathie Forck, one of the event's organizers with 40 Days for Life, said the protest was aimed at creating a stigma around abortion, even if the ruling will not be changed.

"We want abortion to be unthinkable, even if it is legal," she said. "We need to bring chastity and purity back into this country."

At the front of the line of protesters, Tim Thompson and his cousin Rebecca Townsend, both of Marshall, hoisted an eight-foot cross reading "Everlasting Life" on their shoulders as the march began. Thompson said it was important to mark the anniversary of the court's ruling, but said the march is meant to draw more attention to their cause on other days as well.

"I think you have to support the idea regardless of what day it is," he said.

The marchers then gathered in the Capitol rotunda to hear speeches from several anti-abortion speakers, including a physician and a priest. Speaking with two priests sitting behind him, Dave Daubenmire, a former football coach from Ohio, criticized churches for not opposing abortion strongly enough in recent years.

"Thirty-eight years, 38 years of unabated child-killing in America. Abortion won't end in America because the church doesn't hate abortion," Daubenmire said, his voice rising.

Near the end of the rally, school-age children were called to the podium to speak individually about why they do not think abortion should be legal.

Sally Burgess, executive director of the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Ill., said the clinic had a dozen abortion rights advocates from Missouri on hand to escort patients into the clinic Saturday. She said a group of about three dozen protesters had come from Carbondale, Ill., tripling the number of protesters usually outside the clinic, but she said abortion rights groups also recognize the anniversary of the court's ruling.

"We honor Roe v. Wade each year because we understand that having access to professional, safe abortion care is a public health need," she said.

In a statement released Friday, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the group is marking the anniversary while fighting proposed federal legislation that would limit private health insurance coverage of the procedure.

"Today, we celebrate what we achieved 38 years ago with Roe v. Wade and rededicate ourselves to protecting each woman's constitutional right to make her own private, personal medical decisions," she said in the statement.

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Chip Leaver January 22, 2011 | 7:35 p.m.

"Near the end of the rally, school-age children were called to the podium to speak individually about why they do not think abortion should be legal".

Why didn't their parents just stand up and tell it for themselves?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 22, 2011 | 8:09 p.m.

Abortions, especially those used basically as birth control (the vast majority of them), are quite frankly horrifying. However, the decline in crime rates starting in 1994 is very strongly correlated with the legalization of abortion 21 years earlier. Sad, but true.

I end up landing in the "Pro-Choice" camp because I realize that, until the baby is viable outside the womb, the host has de facto control over the baby, whether or not it's legal or morally correct. Attempting to legislate that control away from pregnant women is an exercise in folly.

So, you want to stop abortions. Well, what are we going to do when sex oozes out of every pore of our culture? It's in almost every commercial. We all know sex sells. It's in just about every movie, TV, or cable show. Even kid's movies, with 5-year-old characters, almost always have sexuality injected into the character's psyche and actions. Heck, someone even had to project sexuality onto Tinky Winky. A significant portion of our culture revolves around recreational sex. And you wonder why women get pregnant?

I don't like abortions; the only children I've ever fathered were brought into this world, and are still cared for. But the correlation with reduced crime rates is undeniable, and reversing that trend has significant negative social implications. Furthermore, the "answer" that I hear coming from so many pro-lifer's platforms is... abstinence. "We need to bring chastity and purity back into this country." Bravo for the moralism, but in the context of our culture, it's completely unrealistic and irrational.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 22, 2011 | 8:09 p.m.

If you want to stop the murder of unborn babies, you've got to come up with a real workable idea to stop unwanted pregnancy in the first place. That means either de-sexing our entire culture (which still won't stop it), or being very proactive about birth control. The message of abstinence is still important and certainly has a place, but there's got to be a realistic approach to avoiding pregnancy when people do move beyond abstinence, and engage in sex before they are truly ready to become parents. Iit will happen regardless of the moralism or legality of the issue.

We already have extensive sex education in our culture. It's everywhere. We're bombarded with sexual innuendo every day. Isn't that what she said, after all? But, it's almost all very glamorous hollywood type stuff; hardly the kind of information young people need to make good decisions about engaging in sex.

I believe sex education in school is probably one of the best approaches we have to making sex seem less, well, sexy. Yet, I've heard the eradication of sex education in schools as a plank in the Pro-Life platform. Why? It's one of society's very few chances to counter the unrealistic hollywood / commercial sex culture.

The only way we're ever truly going to get rid of abortions is to force reversible sterilization on all pubescent children, and then as a society only allow those who have a reasonably believable desire, and method of support for children, to reverse that sterilization. Who's ready for that?

In the meantime, a more realistic approach to sex and sexuality is the best bet we've got to minimize abortion.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 22, 2011 | 8:43 p.m.

I am someone who is unrepentantly anti-abortion. But some who call themselves "anti-abortion" use the term "unborn children" as a shield. The politics have never been about the fetus. Policy has always been about controlling women.
I believe in the 4th Amendment and its implied right to privacy ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated....").
Keep the government out of the conversation between a woman and her doctor.

(Report Comment)

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