Sunday will be the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Roe vs. Wade decision, extending a woman's right to privacy to include the right to have an abortion. The Jan. 22, 1973, ruling continues to shape politics even as it fractures the nation largely into two camps -- those who believe abortion is murder and those who believe it's a woman's right to choose whether to proceed with a pregnancy.
The anti-abortion and pro-choice movements are planning to mark the anniversary in vastly different ways.
The National Right to Life Committee, which has 3,000 chapters nationwide, will be holding a variety of events throughout the weekend and Monday. They will include rallies, marches and prayer vigils "just to make sure that people understand the law of the land in this country allows the killing of unborn children," said Carol Tobias, committee president.
The single biggest event is expected to be the annual March for Life, which will take place Monday morning in Washington and culminate in a rally at the National Mall. As many as 225,000 people have marched at the event in recent years. A mini-rally will be held Sunday afternoon outside the White House.
Meanwhile, pro-choice activists are being encouraged to hit the keyboards.
From the website: "Blog for Choice Day gets more people reading and talking about reproductive rights online on one of the most important days surrounding a woman’s right to choose: the Roe anniversary. Plus, it lets your readers and the mainstream media know that a woman's right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected."
This year, participants are urged to answer the question: What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?
A NARAL media representative did not respond to a request for comment by the time this report was posted.
The National Organization for Women has posted notices about a number of pro-choice events on its website, including a "honk and wave" campaign in Florida, a "Rock for Roe" gathering in Las Vegas and a "Lady Liberty Ball" in Mississippi.
Although 39 years have passed since Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land, Tobias said, she and other activists feel more confident than ever that the decision will soon be overturned. "I have absoutely no doubt that it will change in my lifetime," she told The Times.
She said that states across the country have been successful at efforts to cut off government funding of abortion clinics, as well as requiring that women are given specific information about abortion procedures before the procedures take place.
"Women have a right to know what is happening to them and their unborn child," she said.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
File photo: Anti-abortion and pro-choice protestors rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004. Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press