Sunday, January 23, 2000

Roe-Wade anniversary marked by both sides


March, fair focus on abortion decision

BY TIM BONFIELD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In Lytle Park, the falling snowflakes reminded Joanne Kemmerer of the 38 million babies who lost their lives to abortion.

        In Corryville, Georgine Getty said the choices teens make about sexuality start long before they face a decision about abortion.

        Saturday marked the 27th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion and polarized the political landscape. In Cincinnati, anti-abortion and abortion rights factions marked the day at sharply contrasting events.

        About 120 marchers prayed the rosary as they tramped through snowy downtown streets for an annual “Pro-Life Rally.” Robed members of the Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood carried a statue of the Virgin Mary as they led the way to Lytle Park, where the crowd applauded speeches from anti-abortion Republican politicians.

        “The media always thinks we're only concerned about the baby, but we're concerned about the mother, too,” said Mrs. Kemmerer, a candidate for the state legislature. “Abortion is one of the greatest exploitations of women in our time.”

        A few miles away, at the Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, a wide range of groups, only some of which focus on the abortion issue, gathered for “Choices Fair 2000.”

        Groups including Planned Parenthood, Postponing Sexual Involvement, AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati and Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays manned tables loaded with brochures, buttons and bumper stickers. Several dozen teens, parents and agency supporters moved from booth to booth asking questions provided at the door to help start conversations.

        Why would gay rights organizations share time with pro-choice groups?

        “It's not just about abortion. The idea is to celebrate the whole range of choices people face in dealing with their sexuality,” said Ms. Getty, event coordinator.

        And given this week's intense debate in Columbus over sex education in the schools, why would the pro-abstinence group Postponing Sexual Involvement be in the same room with Planned Parenthood? One of Planned Parenthood's brochures featured the outlines of a condom and the words “Just use it.”

        “I don't see a conflict,” said Anthony Davis, outreach coordinator for PSI. “We're here to tell teens that it's OK to not have sex. But you have to take kids where they are. If they aren't going to listen in church, or listen to me or listen to other teens, how are we going to save these kids' lives? That's where these other programs (that promote condom use) come in.”

       



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