President speaks to abortion opponents
Bush told thousands in the capital that the 'culture of life' in America is improving.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
WASHINGTON -- President Bush touted recent gains in restricting abortion at a National Mall rally by abortion opponents Tuesday, but he also urged patience among his fervent supporters, who hope that electoral victories in 2004 will bring major change to abortion laws in 2005.
"The America of our dreams, where every child is welcomed in law ... may still be some ways away," Bush said in a telephone address at the annual March for Life rally, held to oppose the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
Bush cited last year's ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion and a new law that allows prosecutors to charge a person who harms or kills a pregnant woman with "harming or killing the woman's unborn child" as gains in creating a "culture of life" in America.
Speaking from his retreat at Camp David, Md., Bush told thousands of demonstrators: "We're making progress, and this progress is a tribute to your perseverance and to the prayers of the people."
The crowd on the mall, many of them brought to Washington by churches around the country, was smaller than those of previous years, perhaps because of bad weather in the Midwest and Northeast over the weekend.
The crowd was also predominantly Republican -- one protester's sign read "Visualize No Democrats." Among the speakers were several GOP conservatives, including Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and freshman Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La.
Many demonstrators offered ambitious agendas for Congress. With possible retirements looming on the Supreme Court and stronger congressional Republican majorities, John Seiler, of Colwich, Kan., said he thinks Roe v. Wade won't stand much longer.
Seiler said that when he first started attending the annual anti-abortion march on Washington in 1990, "we were lucky to have one or two senators or representatives out here speaking to us," he said. "Now we go for an hour and we still don't get through them all."