″Cemetery of the Innocents” Dramatizes Counterdemonstration
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Several hundred anti-abortion activists prayed silently in a symbolic cemetery on the Washington Mall on Sunday as a river of abortion rights activists swept past them to a rally on Capitol Hill.
″We are here to pray and to ask God to visit his will on all these people who think they are for abortions,″ said Judie Brown, of Stafford, Va. She is president of American Life League Inc., an anti-abortion group.
The ″Cemetery of the Innocents,″ surrounded by a rust-red wooden snow- fence, contained 4,400 white wooden crosses and Stars of David, the number of unborn children the organizers said had been killed daily since the Supreme Court legalized abortion with its Roe Vs. Wade decision in 1973.
Ray Allen, head of the American Coalition for Life, which placed the crosses, said his group wanted to ″communicate the message in a graphic way that abortion on demand kills children.″
Allen, who moved to Washington from Dallas three years ago to campaign against abortion, said he planned to return to Texas soon ″because the battle will be fought in the states.″
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe Vs. Wade, states likely would have the authority to determine whether abortions would be legal within their borders.
Several women at the ″cemetery″ held up enlarged color photographs of fetuses they said had been aborted.
″I want people to see the other side. This is what they are choosing when they choose abortions,″ said Susan Brimmer, of Columbia, Md.
A number of abortion activists approached the fence surrounding the cemetery and shouted ″Pro-Choice″ and other slogans, but moved away after police asked them to avoid confrontation.
Police also sought to defuse tension between marchers and small pockets of anti-abortion activists who gathered along the march route, from the Washington Monument to the Capitol.
In one such pocket, about 50 college women stood at the base of Capitol Hill, holding up signs proclaiming that ″Abortion May be Legal, but it is not Moral,″ and urging the Supreme Court to ″Overturn Roe Vs. Wade.″
One of those women, Michelle Sheahan, a Wellesley College student from Washington, D.C., said she and 14 other abortion foes rode down from Wellesley on 10 buses filled with abortion activists.
Their message, she said, was that ″abortion exploits women,″ and that ″no one can decide for the unborn child.″
Two women who said they underwent abortions told a news conference before the demonstration that they now oppose the operation.
″I will never forget the dream I had of my baby screaming as the doctor ripped that baby from my womb,″ said Nora Whitten, of Newark, Texas.
″Abortion is murder. Those involved in abortion seem to realize this, but try to hide their feelings because they are afraid to deal with the truth,″ said Whitten.
Nola Jones, of Vacavilla, Calif., said she regrets two abortions she had, in 1974 and 1977, after contraceptive failure.
″I spent eight and one half years in denial, destroying myself from what is now called post-abortion syndrome,″ said Jones, executive director of an anti-abortion group called Victims of Choice.
Meanwhile, a coalition of four Orthodox Jewish organizations, led by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, issued a statement Sunday urging the repeal of the Roe vs. Wade ruling, saying it ″has placed an entire category of innocent and defenseless human life outside the protection of the law.″