Anti-Abortion 'March For Life' Draws Thousands In Washington

Tens of thousands of anti-abortion protesters gathered on the National Mall on Friday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

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Pro-life activists from across the country hit the National Mall in Washington, D.C., today for the annual March for Life. The event comes as the nation commemorates the 40th anniversary of Roe versus Wade. And NPR's Allison Keyes reports that marchers this year believe public opinion is shifting in their favor.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: There was an undulating sea of demonstrators stretching for several blocks along the mall: Parents with strollers, people pouring from lines of buses, senior citizens in wheelchairs and groups of young people looking as determined as they were fired up.

RUBEN VERASTIGUI: We need to get out there and make change happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

KEYES: Youth activist Ruben Verastigui told the crowd his is the chosen generation.

VERASTIGUI: And we will abolish abortion and change history.

KEYES: Eighteen-year-old Emily Hastings has been involved in fund-raising and 24-hour prayer for the unborn at Catholic University. She says she thinks there are so many young people here because...

EMILY HASTINGS: When you're young, you can really, like, feel support and feel that passion to fight for your cause. You know what I mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hats, gloves, sweatshirt.

KEYES: Adam Urbaniak, wearing the flowing black robes of a Catholic seminary student, says he believes the activism of people like Emily shows the nation is changing the way it thinks. He looked at the streams of chattering students winding by.

ADAM URBANIAK: They came to fight for life. And I think the community fighting for life, fighting against abortion is growing.

KEYES: There were many Christian communities among the marchers from New York and California and other states. And they cheered speakers like Republican Tennessee Representative Diane Black, a registered nurse who told the crowd a fetus is a life.

REPRESENTATIVE DIANE BLACK: He is not a blob of tissue. It's a human being.

KEYES: Organizers made a determined effort to reach out to supporters via Twitter and Facebook. Even Pope Benedict sent out a tweet in support of the march, saying he prays that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life. Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

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