Related topics

150,000 Rally In Support of Abortion Rights With AM-Abortion Rdp

November 13, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More than 150,000 pro-choice activists, reveling in their victories at the polls last week, promised at a Washington rally Sunday to carry their fight for abortion rights into the 1990 election campaigns.

A parade of politicians, Democrats and Republicans, and entertainers headlined the demonstration and energized the crowd that stretched from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument.

″Turn up the heat across the nation,″ Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., urged the crowd that waved signs and chanted pro-choice slogans for about five hours on a sunny, mild autumn day. ″While the other side is out bombing (abortion) clinics, we’ll be electing candidates and passing laws.″

Police estimated that more than 150,000 turned out for the rally, but rally organizers put the figure at around 300,000.

″Today is historic and it marks for all of us no turning back,″ said Molly Yard, president of the National Organization for Women. ″This will be the issue of 1990.″

The Washington rally, organized by NOW, was the largest of a string of demonstrations and other events that began Sunday morning with a sunrise service in Kennebunk, Maine, near President Bush’s vacation retreat in Kennebunkport.

More than 300,000 pro-choice activists rallied at the Capitol in April in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling in a Missouri abortion case.

The court left intact its landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion, but the justices gave the states broad authority to restrict women’s rights to terminate their pregnancies.

″The Supreme Court did us a great favor,″ said Mary Ann Baker of Youngstown, Ohio. ″It got us off our complacent behinds.″

The court will hear three cases later this month and in December seeking to further restrict a woman’s right to abortion.

Galvanized by election victories for pro-choice candidates earlier this month in Virginia and New Jersey, demonstrators said they were encouraged that politicians would not be able to ignore them in the next round of elections.

″People know that the politicians have been given the word that being anti-abortion is a bad position to be in,″ said Elizabeth Chipley of Vienna, Va., a Washington suburb, who was accompanied by her husband and two daughters.

Members of another family attending the rally said they were concerned that President Bush’s stand against abortion will hurt the Republican Party and mar an administration they worked to put in office.

″This is sending a message to Republicans to listen up,″ said Jennifer Salandi of Darnestown, Md. ″I don’t want to see it damage the whole party,″ she said, but added that many women ″are going to vote Democratic because of this issue.″

Cranston and Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., said legislation will be introduced in Congress soon to prohibit states from interferring with women’s right to abortion.

″We will not let Americans return to the days of the back alley,″ Cranston said.

Actress Ruby Dee and singers Pete Seeger, Helen Reddy, Pete Yarrow and Mary Travers helped to entertain the crowd.

About 30 anti-abortion demonstrators gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in an area that was roped off from the pro-choice demonstrators. A few carried signs and one demonstrator used a megaphone to address abortion-rights activists, who drowned him out with their own chants of ″Pro-choice, pro- choice.″

One man was arrested for demonstrating without a permit when he ventured beyond his designated area. He was fined $50 and released. A woman arrested for disorderly conduct was fined $25 and released.

Meanwhile, two women running for governor said the recent pro-choice election victories will buoy their chances and those of other abortion-rights candidates.

Diane Feinstein, a former Democratic mayor of San Francisco and candidate for governor in California, said more women must be elected to top political jobs because ″we can best plead our case,″ and the message, she said, is ″keep your hands off our right to choose.″

Lt. Gov. Joann Zimmerman of Iowa, a Democrat running for governor, urged that politicians’ feet be kept to the fire to assure that someone who says they are pro-choice will not later vote otherwise.

″We must elect people who will not trade us off,″ she said.

Update hourly