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March For Women's Lives: Up to a Million Descend on DC in One of the Largest Protests in U.S. History

April 26, 2004

Up to one million protesters descended on Washington DC Sunday to show support for reproductive rights and opposition to Bush administration policies on women’s health issues in what could be the biggest demonstration in U.S. history. We hear speeches from celebrities and activists addressing the crowd.

A massive throng of protesters crowded the National Mall in Washington DC on Sunday to show support for reproductive rights and opposition to Bush administration policies on women’s health issues in what could be the biggest demonstration in U.S. history.

Organizers for the March for Women’s Lives said over 1 million people descended on the capital to protest what they see as an erosion of women’s rights.

Protesters–many wearing pink- and purple-shirts–covered the Mall from the base of Capitol Hill a mile back to the base of the Washington Monument. They raised signs reading "Fight the Radical Right," "Keep Abortion Legal" and "U.S. Out Of My Uterus."

Celebrities, from entertainers to politicians to activists, took to two stages and addressed the crowd. Actors Cybill Shepherd, Whoopi Goldberg and Ashley Judd attended, as did singers Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls and Moby. Feminist icons Patricia Ireland and Gloria Steinem were there so was labor rights activist Dolores Huerta. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and California Sen. Barbara Boxer also attended.

The abortion issue was the centerpiece of the march against Bush’s policies, including his stance on funding international family planning. No U.S. funds may be used for any family planning agency that mentions abortion to patients.

He also signed a ban on what critics call partial-birth abortion, doctors call late-term abortion, and the first federal law to endow a fetus with legal rights distinct from the pregnant woman.

The Bush administration also has not made it possible to obtain the "morning after" pill, also known as emergency contraception, without a prescription.

Bush stayed at Camp David in the Maryland mountains until late afternoon, when he returned to the capital. His spokesman Taylor Gross said, "The president believes we should work to build a culture of life in America."

Today we hear the words of some of those who took the stage Sunday.

  • Whoopi Goldberg, actress.
  • Ashley Judd, actress.
  • Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers.
  • Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Dr. Lorraine Cole, Black Women’s Health Imperative.
  • Silvia Henriquez, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
  • Gloria Feldt, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
  • Kim Gandy, National Organization for Women.