Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Faith leads teens to capital protest

Hundreds from Tristate join abortion vigil

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Greater Cincinnati teen-agers were among thousands of people who marched to the Supreme Court on Monday to condemn the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court's decision legalizing abortion.

        Breezy Redden, a freshman at Seton High School in Price Hill, said the demonstration was as much about faith as politics.

        “It's really cool to see so many young people coming together,” said Ms. Redden, who, at 15, was at her first protest. “It's our faith, and we want to show people how we feel. Maybe they'll start to care, too.”

        The teen-agers traveled through the night by bus for the demonstration, anti-abortion activists' annual vigil to remind the powerful of their opposition. This year, many had a renewed sense of anticipation because President Bush also opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or threat to the

        life of the mother.

        On Monday, Mr. Bush reversed a Clinton administration order that provided federal money for international family-planning groups that recognize abortion. Former President Clinton had overturned a ban on federal money for these groups just after replacing Mr. Bush's father as president in 1993.

        Republicans in Congress also quickly hope to approve a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion, which Mr. Bush has promised to sign into law. Mr. Clinton had twice vetoed a ban on the rare procedure.

        Religious conservatives want Mr. Bush to fill any vacancies on the high court with justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

        “There is a sense in the air that this (the reversal of Roe v. Wade) is going to happen,” said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who met with several activists Monday at an Ohio Right to Life Society breakfast.

        But an abortion-rights proponent said that studies show women end up having abortions whether they're legal or illegal.

        “It's a question of whether women will have legal abortions, conducted with the dignity and privacy they deserve, or whether the abortions women have will be dangerous, humiliating and terribly, terribly frightening,” Elizabeth Cavendish, legal counsel for the National Abortion Rights Action League, said.

        Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, told the audience at the Ohio breakfast, which high-school students dominated, how he first marched in a similar protest 17 years ago when he was a congressman.

        “The tragedy is we have to keep doing this,” he said.

        Tired and groggy from the road, some students nodded off over scrambled eggs, muffins and coffee, while others gossiped or talked strategy for the protest.

        “Those babies didn't do anything wrong, and they are being punished,” said Kendal Strickland, 16, a junior at Seton. “They didn't even have a chance.”

        Her friend, Andrea Hodson, 16, also a Seton junior, said such protests can have an effect on others.

        “They wouldn't go out and take another life,” she said of people who favor the right to have an abortion. “They have to understand that what they're doing with abortion is murder.”

        Patrick Maloney, 16, a sophomore at St. Xavier High School in Finneytown, believes the young people here Monday will be the vanguard of the anti-abortion movement.

        “We're the next generation of leaders,” he said. “I feel that an example needs to be made for the rest of the country.”


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