WASHINGTON--Marking the 27th anniversary of the Supreme Courtruling that legalized most abortions, thousands of anti-abortionprotesters poured into the nation's capital Monday to mark thelandmark decision with a call for its reversal.

"Roe v. Wade was an unforgivable decision made a long time ago,"said John J. Sandhaas of Long Island, N.Y., who said he has attendednearly every March for Life since the protests began in 1974. "Abortionhas to be overturned--it's just too horrendous a thing. A wholegeneration of children has been lost."

As marchers threaded their way from the Ellipse to the Capitol andSupreme Court, they held aloft posters of aborted fetuses as well asbanners asking "What if Jesus' mother had an abortion?" Some cradledbabies and toddlers in their arms.

"Society needs to recognize everyone has the right to live," saidMatt Matthews of Delaware, who was accompanied by his wife and 10children. He said he and his wife had been advised to consider abortingtheir youngest child, 2-year-old Miriam, after in utero tests revealedshe had Down syndrome. "Our children need our protection."

Also among the protesters were a number of parochial schoolstudents from as far away as Massachusetts and West Virginia, many ofwhom had been excused from class for the day to attend the event.

Event organizers called on protesters to champion the movement toend legal abortion as "a human rights issue, not a political issue."

"The purpose of our coming into Washington every year is to getaction on Capitol Hill to overturn Roe v. Wade," said Nellie Gray, whoheads the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. "This is not apolitical rally. We are here today to think of babies and how we can getlegislation passed to save them."

The anti-abortion protest comes as the Supreme Court prepares toconsider two key court cases involving abortion. In April, the courtwill review the rights of anti-abortion protesters outside clinics, andreview Nebraska's ban on a controversial late-term abortion procedureopponents have dubbed "partial-birth" abortion.

"This year we have an opportunity for the Supreme Court to take astep in the right direction," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas. "Wouldn'tit be wonderful if instead of a step away from human life, the courttook a step toward protecting human life? It would be a step in theright direction for America."

A spokeswoman for the Family Research Council spoke out against thelate-term abortion procedure in a statement.

"As the American Medical Association has stated, there is no medicaljustification for partial-birth abortion--a grisly procedure in whicha child's skull is punctured and his brains suctioned out," said JanetParshall, chief spokeswoman for the Family Research Council. "If we callourselves a civilized society, we cannot tolerate this brutality anylonger."

House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, pledged to reintroducelegislation to make it a federal crime to use the procedure.

"I marvel at the people who fight for prenatal care from the momentof conception and then believe it's not a child until the thirdtrimester," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, that is a baby, one of God'screatures. I am committed to passing legislation this year to stoppartial-birth abortion procedures. I am committed to protecting theunborn child from violence. This fight will never end until we end thisawful practice of killing God's children."

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