Jan. 22 marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized what pro-lifers call "abortion on demand." Over a third of a century has passed since the controversial case yet many participating in pro-life events Tuesday will say: the fight is far from over.
At the nation's capital, hundreds of thousands of life advocates are gathering for the 35th March for Life to remember the 50 million preborn lives that have been lost since the high court's decision on abortions.
In 1973, the high court voted 7-2 to overturn all state laws banning abortion. The ruling in Roe v. Wade and its lesser-known companion case Doe v. Bolton made abortions legal for any reason through the first six months of pregnancy.
The decision also changed the landscape of national politics, dividing the nation into two camps: those who supported and those who were against abortion.
Today, the public opinion on abortion appears to support more limits on the procedure. A December Time magazine poll revealed that more than half of Americans oppose abortion in nearly every circumstance. A Fox News poll in October showed that 45 percent of Americans want to know a candidate's position on abortion before they vote.
"Fortunately, the pro-life movement is making significant progress in the battle for hearts and minds," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
"In spite of having virtually all of the nation's elites and virtually all of the secular, opinion-making sectors of our society adamantly opposed to it, the pro-life movement has risen to a place where significantly more than two-thirds of Americans are opposed to most of the reasons that women give for having an abortion.
"The country is moving strongly in a pro-life direction, and we have every reason to believe that trend will continue," said Land.
Many pro-life supporters say they are certain more people would back restrictions against abortion once they learn about the detrimental effects of abortion on all parties involved.
"Abortion doesn't only hurt women and kill children; it can also deeply wound the men it touches," said Matt Barber, policy director of Cultural Issues for Concerned Women for America.
"I'm sad to say that I know this from personal experience," continued Barber, who imagines having a 22-year-old daughter today. "Along with the realization that a woman has chosen to end the life you helped to create, comes a profound sense of loss and guilt."
More knowledge and more information are the keys to what abortion opponents believe will help shift more Americans in favor of the pro-life movement.
Some pro-life advocates have incorporated a push for ultrasound technology behind their pro-life message, hoping the images will help women make a more informed decision regarding their pregnancy. Focus on the Family offers a program that funds the devices for pregnancy centers.
The evangelical group has also joined a number of pro-family groups in launching a quiz to test the knowledge of Americans on what the Roe case actually allows or restricts. Available at RoeIQTest.com, the quiz asks viewers 12 simple questions on the Supreme Court decision.
Most Americans who took the quiz failed. The average is seven correct answers or 59 percent passing.
"The assumption that most people support Roe is not only flawed but flat out wrong," commented Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
"When people learn the details of Roe, their support declines."
But until that support leads to the overturn of the landmark decision, participants for pro-life rallies like March for Life are expected to march on.
For Tuesday's rally, marchers are gathering for a pre-march rally at the National Mall and then proceeding to the starting point for the rally which begins at noon at 7th St. and Madison, NW.
They are marching under the 2008 theme: "Build Unity on the Life Principles throughout America. No Exception! No Compromise!"
The march is one of many events taking place on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Over 25,000 life advocates gathered in San Francisco last Saturday for the 4th annual Walk for Life West Coast.