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Anti abortion activists join March for Life in Washington

Anti-abortion activists gathered in Washington on Friday (January 27) for the 44th March for Life, celebrating a political shift in their favor with the election of President Donald Trump. While there was no immediate official estimate of the crowd size, it appeared the numbers were at least in the tens of thousands. The March for Life also is taking place in the same area where even more massive crowds flooded Washington a day after Trump's inauguration in favor of women's rights, including abortion rights.

Earlier, Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime hero of the anti-abortion movement, became the most senior government official ever to speak in person at the rally, organizers said. As governor of Indiana, he signed what were seen as some of the nation's strictest abortion laws. Lines of school groups and people from across the country waited to get through security checkpoints near the Washington Monument and within sight of the White House.

Protesters hoisted signs saying "Choose life," "I am the pro-life generation," and "I regret my abortion." The march is held each year close to the anniversary of the court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in 1973. Trump has said Roe v. Wade should be overturned and has vowed to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

He also has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, which draws the ire of many Republicans because it provides abortions, along with other services. Abortion rights supporters say cutting off funding for abortion providers will prevent poor women from getting other critical heath care and birth control that could prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The rally comes as the number of U.S. abortions has fallen to a record low. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights organization, said last week that it dropped below 1 million in 2013 for the first time since 1975. Anti-abortion forces are often inspired by a religious conviction that life begins at conception and see abortion is murder.

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