WASHINGTON - Abortion opponents rallied on the National Mall and marched to the Supreme Court on Monday to mark the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
More than three dozen lawmakers addressed the crowd during a rally to start the annual "March for Life." The lawmakers, buoyed by Republican gains in the House in November, called for the landmark court decision to be overturned and said they would work to restrict tax dollars for abortion.
"We stand with you for life," Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking House Republican, told the marchers. "Thanks to your support last November, there's a new majority in town."
Cantor said the new group of Republicans in Congress is the "biggest and the most pro-life freshman class in memory."
Similar rallies were held in other cities around the nation.
Just last week Republicans in the House introduced two bills to toughen restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortions. On Monday, rally speakers also called for an end to funding of Planned Parenthood and booed when told that President Barack Obama made a statement over the weekend supporting the Roe decision.
Abortion foes, including many church groups, braved temperatures in the high 20s to hold signs such as "Life counts" and "Term limits 4 Congress not babies" during a two-hour rally before the march.
John Weaver of Sterling, Va., carried a sign that read "I lost a child to abortion" and said he has been coming to the rally since 1996, when his fiance had an abortion.
"I'm still in pain every day," he said.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued a statement criticizing politicians who appeared at the march as out of touch with the country's priorities.
"The 2010 elections were about jobs and the economy, yet lawmakers in Washington and across the country are proposing extreme ways to interfere in women's personal, private decisions," Keenan said. "How many jobs will attacking choice generate?"
The first "March for Life" rally was held in 1974, a year after the Supreme Court's landmark decision. Saturday was the actual anniversary of the ruling.
A poll conducted last year by CBS News and The New York Times found 58 percent of adults say they believe the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade was a good one, while 34 percent said it was a bad decision.