The 24th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing abortion was marked Wednesday by protest, a bomb scare and condemnation of anti-abortion terrorism by Vice President Al Gore.
“To those who committed the horrible deeds of Tulsa and Atlanta, I say this … the American people will not tolerate your cowardly crusade,” Gore said of recent abortion-clinic bombings in those cities.
As he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, tens of thousands of abortion opponents rallied near the White House, then marched to Capitol Hill to protest the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.
The marchers included many schoolchildren, seminarians wearing long black robes bearing religious icons and busloads of members of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s group.
Protest leaders vowed to push legislation to ban a late-term procedure known as a “partial-birth” abortion. Clinton vetoed a bill passed by Congress last year to outlaw the procedure, and Republican leaders vow to bring it up again.
The anniversary got off to a shaky start several hours before the speeches when a worker at the hotel where Gore and Hillary Clinton appeared found a small fusing device used in grenade training. The device, with less force than many firecrackers, went off in the employee’s hand two blocks from the hotel.
Police said there was no evidence the incident was related to the abortion controversy, even though it was found within a block of a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Gore, referring to earlier clinic bombings, said the administration would “find the terrorists who committed these heinous acts and we will pursue you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Hillary Clinton voiced hope for a dialogue with abortion opponents - “people of good faith who do not share extremism as their rallying cry.”
Gore also said there is room for people on both sides of the issue to work together, but pledged, “We will not allow a woman’s right to choose to be taken away.”