An estimated 50,000 prolife activists marched on Washington, D.C., last month to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. It was the fifteenth annual March for Life since the high court’s landmark 1973 decision.

The march began with a rally in front of the White House. There, for the fourth consecutive year, President Reagan addressed the group by way of a telephone hookup. “America was founded on a moral proposition that human life—all human life—is sacred,” the President said. “Are we to forget the entire moral mission of our country through history? Well, my answer is no.”

Reagan urged passage of prolife legislation he has sent to Congress, and he pledged to fight all federal funding of abortion. To that end, he encouraged support of new regulations that would cut off funding of family planning groups that promote and perform abortions.

After the rally, the activists marched to the Supreme Court building, many carrying banners and singing hymns. The march was peaceful, although a Court spokesperson said 35 people were arrested for praying at an illegal place on the Court grounds.

Organizers said marchers came from nearly every state, and March for Life president Nellie Gray said she was “extremely pleased” by this year’s turnout. “It shows that America’s prolife movement is here to stay,” she said. “It has lasted 15 years … and is going to persist until all the preborn children are protected.”

Meanwhile, the prochoice movement is claiming continued public support for abortion. At a press conference two days before the march, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) released a survey that said 88 percent of Americans favor retaining abortion rights in some form, while 10 percent said they opposed abortion under all circumstances.

NARAL executive director Kate Michelman said that while her group is pleased the survey found continued support for abortion, she is concerned about the depth of that support, especially among young women. Only 39 percent of the public favored abortions for “any woman who wants one.” Michelman said she fears the “collective memory” of the pre-Roe v. Wade years “is lost.”

The National Right to Life Committee protested the wording of the survey, which spokesperson Kay James said was “loaded” against the unborn. James pointed out that many prolife activists would be included in the 88 percent figure because they would accept abortion if it would save the life of the mother.

James said the poll underscored many misunderstandings the public holds about abortion. Thirty-six percent did not realize that abortion is currently legal for all nine months of pregnancy, and 62 percent mistakenly believed that abortion is illegal for all minors, James said. “It is patently clear that there is a glaring need for public education on abortion,” she said.

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