House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told the rally, one of the key
yearly events for the anti-abortion movement, that the
Republican-controlled chamber would approve the measure halting
taxpayer funding for the procedure next week.
"We cannot allow the opponents of life to continually weaken the
moral fabric of our country," Cantor, a Virginia lawmaker, said at
the rally on the National Mall.
But Cantor acknowledged that the House Republican measure might
ultimately be a symbolic one, saying that passage in the Democrat
controlled Senate and acceptance by President Barack Obama "will be
a much tougher task."
Opponents of the procedure failed in their attempts to attach new
anti-abortion provisions to the $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress
approved last week.
The thousands of marchers huddled on the Mall defied temperatures
around 14 Fahrenheit (minus-10 Celsius) made more stinging by a
Activists carried signs saying "I was conceived from rape. I love my
life" and "Stop abortion now." Groups of Catholic high school
students chanted: "We love babies, yes we do! We love babies, how
From Vatican City, Pope Francis used Twitter to back the rally. "I
join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help
us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable," he said.
The march has been held annually since the January 22, 1973, Supreme
Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion until viability
of the fetus, generally considered to be 22 to 24 weeks.
Meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights spoke out to repeat their
support of the 1973 decision.
[to top of second column]
"It's time to seize this vital opportunity to reclaim the rights
that Roe recognized and the protections it established more than
four decades ago," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for
Reproductive Rights, a lobbying group.
The Washington rally comes after judges have turned back some state
laws restricting abortion.
A federal judge on Friday struck down a 2011 North Carolina law
requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and explain it
to a woman before she goes through with an abortion.
The Supreme Court on Monday also struck down an Arizona state law
banning abortion after 20 weeks.
In a sign the Supreme Court could hand anti-abortion activists a
victory, justices have expressed doubt about a Massachusetts law
that mandates a buffer zone around abortion clinics to allow
patients unimpeded access.
About 1.2 million U.S. abortions were carried out in 2008, the last
year for which data were available, according to the Guttmacher
Institute, a nonprofit sexual health organization.
A Pew poll in July showed that little more than half of Americans
favor abortion rights and about 40 percent oppose them.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson and David Lawder;
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.