Carrying signs and pushing empty baby carriages, a crowd of more than 200 people took control of the west lane of Massachusetts Street under the noon sun Saturday to protest abortion.
"We're out here to commemorate the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision," said Pat Moriarty, president of Lawrence Kansans For Life, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. "Thirty million unborn babies have died since 1973."
As Moriarty led a chant of "Abortion stops a beating heart," pedestrians stopped along the sidewalk and retail workers poked their heads out shop doors to silently gaze at the procession.
Kevin Elliott, standing on the corner of Eighth and Massachussets, responded to the marchers.
"Not the church. Not the state. Women should decide their fate," Elliott, 1205 Pa., shouted at the protesters.
"Yeah, sieg Heil to you too," a protester countered.
The march started at Sixth Street and concluded at the South Park gazebo, where Moriarty addressed the participants.
"One day this evil will be sent back to where it came from,'' he said as he closed his brief speech.
Moriarty said his organization would continue to lobby local legislators, but had been neglected by representatives in the last five years. He said he expected the Kansas Legislature to pass little or no legislation concerning abortion restrictions this session. However, it's just a waiting game now, he said, because the Supreme Court will overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision and send the issue back to the states. That's when the real battle will ensue, he said.
"Legislators have a federal decision to give them an excuse for inactivity," Moriarty said. "Once the Supreme Court reverses Roe vs. Wade, legislators won't be able to wash their hands of it anymore. Right now we're just keeping the fire stoked."
Kansas University students also participated in the march, said Patricia Trausch, president of KU Students for Life.
"We only have about 50 to 75 members in our organization," she said. "We're kind of a small organization compared to other communities, but we do what we can."