Young activists adding fuel to antiabortion side

By Robert McCartney
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Iwent to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. What's more, with a Democrat in the White House likely to appoint justices who support abortion rights, surely the Supreme Court isn't going to overturn Roe in the foreseeable future.

How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it's gaining strength, even if it's not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous.

As always, we in Washington enjoy an up-close view of the health of various causes because of the city's role as the nation's most important setting for political demonstrations. In this case, I was especially struck by the large number of young people among the tens of thousands at the march. It suggests that the battle over abortion will endure for a long time to come.

"We are the pro-life generation," said signs carried by the crowd, about half its members appearing to be younger than 30. There were numerous large groups of teenagers, many bused in by Roman Catholic schools and youth groups. They and their adult leaders said the youths were taught from an early age to oppose abortion.

"People our age are going to be the ones to change, to be the future leaders," said Lauren Powers, 16, who came with a group from an all-girls Catholic school in Milwaukee.

After I asked to interview them, a group of eighth-graders from St. Mark School, a private Catholic school in Catonsville, sang a song they wrote, based on a Miley Cyrus tune:

Hands up for saving the babies;

Bad doctors go away . . .

We're saving the babies;

You know they're going to be okay.

Also contributing to the confidence among abortion opponents are some recent political and judicial events. In the House version of the health-care reform bill before Congress, conservatives succeeded in inserting a remarkably strong antiabortion provision. And in November, antiabortion Republican candidates won governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey.

And although he still lacks the five votes needed to scrap Roe, which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. warned explicitly in a Supreme Court decision Thursday that there was no "inexorable command" that the court must preserve past rulings.

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