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US Pro-lifers mark 29 years of Roe vs Wade decision

Thousands of pro-lifers rallied on Tuesday to mark the 29th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling allowing abortion, urged on by President George W. Bush who told them even unwanted children should be "welcomed into life and protected in law". Speaking by telephone from West Virginia, Bush told the rally at the Washington Monument today, "You're working and marching on behalf of a noble cause and affirming a culture of life," according to Reuters.

Bush was seen as a patron by the abortion opponents, with one mammoth sign reading, "Michigan Loves Our Pro-Life President." Other banners represented other areas, including "Tennessee Right to Life," "West Virginia Teens for Life" and even "Cheeseheads for Life" -- from Wisconsin, a key dairy state. Bush's words were greeted with thunderous applause, and came two days after National Sanctity of Human Life Day, which Bush proclaimed.

Meanwhile CNS is reporting that American Catholic leaders have strongly objected to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union entitled "Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights". Fr Michael D. Place, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, said the report "leaves the false impression that Catholic health care gets funds it isn't entitled to."

The ACLU report contends that health care providers should not have unlimited access to conscience-clause protections.

"For example, whatever their religious or moral scruples, doctors and other health professionals should give complete and accurate information and make appropriate referrals," it said. The report also implied that the only health care institutions which should be allowed to use the conscience clause are religious institutions that serve only members of their religion, such as Christian Science sanatoriums.

"When, however, religiously affiliated organizations move into secular purposes -- such as providing medical care or social services to the public or running a business -- they should no longer be insulated from secular laws," the ACLU said.

Although much of the report focused on abortion, it also raised such issues as emergency contraception for rape victims, contraceptive sterilization, distribution of condoms in AIDS prevention programs, coverage of contraception in prescription plans provided by employers, pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions to which they are opposed, and the training of obstetrics and gynecology students in religiously affiliated hospitals in abortions, sterilizations and contraception.

Both Cleaver and Father Place noted that the report raised many of the same objections previously made by Catholics for a Free Choice, a group which the U.S. bishops have said "merits no recognition or support as a Catholic organization" and is funded mostly by non-Catholic sources.

Zenit: Abortion Foes Hear Bush's Support at Annual Rally
CNS: ACLU report on conscience clauses draws strong Catholic reaction