In an effort to raise awareness and support for the anti-abortion movement, a group of Georgetown students marched on the Washington Mall yesterday alongside tens of thousands of protesters in the annual March for Life.

The annual rally took place a day after the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, and featured speeches from several prominent members of the anti-abortion movement as well as a telephone address from President Bush.

Steven Picciano (COL ’09), vice president of GU Right to Life, said that though the march has not changed much in recent years, he was particularly encouraged with the size and diversity of the crowd this year.

“What is most rewarding is that you get to see, seemingly, an endless line of people,” Picciano said. “That’s the highlight of the march every year.”

Picciano said that the rally exemplified the progress that the anti-abortion movement has made in recent years. Opposition to abortion has risen in recent years, particularly among adolescents, he said.

“I think the March for Life is a really great reminder of why we do all this work,” Picciano said.

Picciano estimated that between 10 and 20 Georgetown students were in attendance, a figure he said would have been higher had the rally not conflicted with classes.

Olivia Alair (COL ’06), senior board member of H*yas for Choice, a student organization that supports abortion rights, said in a statement on behalf of the organization that society should work to reduce the number of abortions, but abortion rights are necessary as a last resort.

“Outlawing abortion will only result in increased numbers of women who, in desperation, seek abortions under conditions which threaten their own lives,” Alair said. “On the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, H*yas for Choice reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that individuals have access to sexual education as well as a full range of health services so that in the future, abortions will only be a last resort.”

On the day before the rally, Right to Life hosted its Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life at the Marriott Conference Center on campus. The seventh-annual convention hosted approximately 30 Georgetown students and 300 other people – primarily college students – from around the nation, according to conference director Kara Banahan (COL ’06).

Speakers at the conference included Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior general of The Sisters of Life, a religious organization against abortion, and Jennifer O’Neill, the spokeswoman for National Silent No More Awareness Campaign, an organization that works to decrease the number of abortions. Other speakers also discussed stem cell research and the death penalty.

While the national rally focused primarily on overturning the Roe decision, Banahan said that the conference addressed ways to reduce abortion through cultural rather than political tactics.

Banahan said that the conference attempted to help attendees “find ways to support a society where abortion is not the only choice that a woman has.”

“H*yas for Choice and GU Right to Life are in agreement that abortions should be rare,” Alair said. “However, H*yas for Choice acknowledges that this procedure must remain safe and legal if we really care about saving lives.”

Picciano said that although Right to Life wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned, the key to reducing abortions is through education about the issue.

“Abortion is probably the greatest genocide the world has ever known,” Picciano said. “It remains our almost eternal hope [not only that] Roe v. Wade will be overturned, but we can reduce the amount of abortions.”

Picciano added that overturning the case would help sway public opinion against abortion, in addition to providing legislative autonomy to states.

“Having the court change its opinions would send a message to the nation,” he said.

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