Carrying anti-abortion signs and pushing baby buggies, about 220 people marched Saturday through downtown Lawrence to protest Friday's anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.
The marchers, many of whom were members of Lawrence Kansans for Life, carried their protest down Massachusetts Street, from Sixth Street to the South Park gazebo.
During the march, Pat Moriarty, president of Lawrence Kansans for Life, predicted the pro-life movement would grow after President Clinton's action Friday to eliminate some government restrictions on abortion.
Clinton ended limits that President Bush had placed on abortion counseling at government facilities and medical research using fetal tissue. The president also gave permission for abortions at military hospitals and pledged to review a ban on importing the French abortion pill RU-486.
Clinton's decisions have energized those in the pro-life movement, Moriarty said.
"IT WILL grow now. It most definitely will," Moriarty said. "I really believe that people had been secure in the idea that a pro-life president was at least standing in the gap. And now that we don't have that and we have a very hostile federal government, House and Senate, I think people will realize they have been complacent for too long and they have let others do the work. Now is the time to be called into action."
Among the signs carried in the march were "Abortion Kills Children," "She's a Child, Not a Choice" and "Life is a Mystery and a Gift, Respect It." A small boy carried a sign that said "Thanks Mom. I'm Alive and Adopted."
There was no organized effort by pro-choice forces downtown during the pro-life march Saturday.
Moriarty said the marchers believe their public show of opposition to laws that allow abortions has an effect on society.
"We don't live in a vacuum," he said. "This has an effect. We need a change for our country to survive."
AFTER WALKING down Massachusetts to the South Park gazebo, the marchers held hands, said a prayer and said they would keep fighting for their cause.
One of the marchers was Mary Ramsey, 19, Lawrence, who said she was an unmarried mother of a 9-month-old son and that she was five months pregnant.
Ramsey said she knew having another baby would be hard on her financially.
"I just believe abortion is murder," she said. "I believe they have a right to live."
Another marcher was Paula Mason, a 15-year-old student at Central Junior High School.
"I think if a girl thinks she is old enough to mess around, then she is old enough to have a child," Mason said.
John Watkins, who has been active in the local pro-life group, told the gathering that it was a fluke that Clinton was in the White House with 43 percent of the vote.
He urged the gathering to stay politically involved at the local level and let their beliefs be known.
"People cannot be stifled just because of political correctness," he said.
THE MARCHERS were also asked to sign postcards urging U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Kan., and U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, both R-Kan., to oppose the federal Freedom of Choice Act, which would prevent states from restricting abortion, and to support laws that would reduce the number of abortions.
Moriarty, who said he had been participating in local marches for about five years, said he hoped to organize another rally in the spring.
On the local level, pro-life groups have been making gains politically, Moriarty said.
"There has been a change in the Legislature to some degree that is quite favorable," he said, referring to the election of several pro-life legislators in the fall.
He said pro-life members also have become more involved in the Republican Party at the state and local levels.
"We have to keep in mind that all politics is local," he said. "And that any administration that does things on a whim can be pulled down, as well. And we're going to be part of that effort."
Several of the marchers then walked back to say a prayer on the sidewalk in front of the office of Dr. Dale Clinton, at Seventh and New Hampshire streets. Clinton is a Lawrence physician who performs abortions.