Sunday, January 25, 2004

Anti-abortion crowd rallies

By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - Not everyone had the same reasons for being there, but the goal was unanimous: ending abortion.

More than 300 anti-abortion supporters marched from Cincinnati City Hall to Fountain Square Saturday in protest of the Supreme Court decision 31 years ago this week -- Roe v. Wade -- that legalized abortion.

Anger, gratitude and resolve filled the speeches of four area anti-abortion activists who spoke to a crowd of fewer than 50 people awaiting the marchers.

City Councilman Sam Malone expressed his anger with council's Jan. 22 decision to keep abortion coverage part of the city's health care plan.

"My colleagues failed to hear me, but the fight is not over," Malone said.

Barbara Trauth, a former City Council candidate and artist, thanked parents for sacrificing to bring their children into the world.

In the crowd were families, individuals and couples, many who sipped hot chocolate provided by Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood. One woman bundled up her 4-month-old-daughter and came out to support a cause she addresses every day.

"I've been a big supporter of right-to-life for several years," said Jennifer Harp-Yanka, 25, of Sharonville. "(I volunteer at) Old St. Mary's Pregnancy Center, the only pro-life pregnancy center within a Catholic Church, and I think abortion exploits women."

Harp-Yanka said she works with women who often feel they have no option except abortion.

"I help women know they have a choice," she said.

Abortion rates have been falling nationally and locally since about 1980. In 2000, the latest figures available, there were 40,230 abortions in Ohio, 12,490 in Indiana and 4,700 in Kentucky, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

A federal appeals court ruled in December that Ohio's ban on the controversial late-term abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion is constitutional. The law has never been enforced because of other challenges in federal court.

Abortion rights advocates called the appeals decision a threat to the future of safe and legal abortions.

Holding a bright yellow homemade sign high in the air, a Kettering, Ohio, man stood stoically listening to the speeches.

"Abortion makes no sense," Kevin Brown, 45, said. "Life does start at conception."

State Rep. Tom.Brinkman Jr. of Mount Lookout was the rally's emcee. It was the fifth rally he has attended on Fountain Square.

Brinkman read a letter from Susan Gertz, this year's winner of the Pro-Life Lifetime Achievement Award. Gertz was attending the anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C.


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