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Bush tells abortion foes, 'We will prevail'

33 years after Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion debate continues

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Abortion opponents listen to a phone call from President Bush Monday on the Washington Mall.

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SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- President Bush told abortion opponents Monday that they are pursuing "a noble cause" and making a real difference in the campaign to recruit more Americans to stand on their side.

"We're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause," the president told abortion foes gathered at the foot of Capitol Hill on a chilly, rainy day. He spoke by telephone from Manhattan, Kansas, where he was to give a speech.

"This is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens and is rooted in America's deepest principle," the president said. "And history tells us that with such a cause we will prevail."

Supporters of abortion rights held a rally on Sunday, marking the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, and urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. They held a candlelight vigil in front of the court, waving signs that read: "Alito--No Justice For Women," and "Keep Abortion Legal."

After the rally on the National Mall, the demonstrators were marching to the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

"You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient," Bush told the abortion foes.

"These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children," the president said.

Other rallies were being held across the country.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Katie Whitte braved below-freezing temperatures outside the state capitol to march for the first time against abortion.

"This year is special for me because I am a mother out of wedlock," said Whitte, 20, whose daughter is 5 months old. "I wanted to get the message out that life is important. It doesn't matter what your circumstances are."

Whitte was among thousands of abortion opponents who rallied across the nation over the weekend, many of whom said they were heartened by Bush's choice of Alito.

The nation's high court made abortion legal on January 22, 1973. Thirty-four states have since passed laws requiring parents either to be notified or to give consent when their underage daughters seek abortions.

In Idaho, nearly 400 abortion protesters marched Saturday at the Statehouse, including Reid Richardson and his 5-year-old stepdaughter, Allie Zebley, who carried sign with her ultrasound photo and the words, "This is me at 16 weeks."

About half that number gathered Sunday outside the Idaho Capitol in support of abortion rights.

In Michigan, a group of ministry leaders launched a new anti-abortion organization, Michigan Chooses Life. The group wants to change the state constitution to legally define a person as existing at the moment of conception. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has said such a measure would be challenged in court.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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