RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And now one side of a national issue is using a new movie to rally its cause.
(Soundbite of movie, "Horton Hears a Who")
Mr. JIM CARREY (Actor): (As Horton) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. And an elephant's faithful 100 percent.
MONTAGNE: Okay, that's one of Horton the elephant's best-known mottoes, as voiced by Jim Carrey in the animated version of Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears a Who." But another Horton saying is drawing attention from anti-abortion groups. They see a message in the movie that suits their purpose, as NPR's Kim Masters report.
KIM MASTERS: In "Horton Hears a Who," Horton the Elephant discovers that there's a whole town on a tiny speck that has floated his way.
(Soundbite of film, "Horton Hears a Who")
Mr. CARREY: (As Horton) I don't exactly know how to tell you this, but you're living on a speck.
Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) Well, I hate to disagree with you, oh voice from the drainpipe, but I live in Whoville.
MASTERS: Despite skeptics on all sides, Horton is determined to protect life on the speck. A person's a person, no matter how small, he declares.
When Horton said that line during the Los Angeles premiere of the film last Saturday, demonstrators who had slipped into the theater started to yell.
Mr. KARL ZoBELL (Attorney): I thought maybe there was a nut loose in the theater or something.
MASTERS: That's Karl ZoBell, an attorney who has represented the interests of Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Geisel, for some 40 years. After the show, ZoBell saw the demonstrators handing out anti-abortion flyers that looked like movie tickets. Geisel's widow, Audrey, was there, and ZoBell says none of this sat well with her.
Mr. ZoBELL: She doesn't like people to hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view.
MASTERS: Some anti-abortion Web sites say Audrey Geisel supports Planned Parenthood. ZoBell says he never discussed such matters with her or her late husband, but he says the Geisels never wanted Dr. Seuss characters used for any political purpose.
Mr. ZoBELL: People running for office like to refer to their opponent as the Grinch because it's kind of a simple-minded way to say my opponent is a mean, bad person.
In Colorado, Kristi Burton represents a group working on a ballot initiative stating that life begins at conception. She says her group wasn't at the film's premiere but is planning to show up at Denver theaters when the movie opens, not in protest but in support of its message. That may not have pleased Dr. Seuss, but she says the group has been careful not to go too far in using his material.
Ms. KRISTI BURTON (Anti-Abortion Activist): Regardless of anyone's particular position, the statement, a person is a person no matter how small, certainly affirms our amendment in defining a person from the very beginning stages.
MASTERS: Burton says the group has no plans to disrupt the movie. They'll simply wear T-shirts bearing that Horton motto and try to gather signatures for their petition.
Kim Masters, NPR News.