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Women participate in a rally held by Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania and other organizations to mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania and other women’s groups rallied in Center City, marking the 42nd anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

On Thursday afternoon, a group of 40 people held signs and expressed support for the decision in the median of one of Center City’s busiest streets. Representatives from Planned Parenthood, Women’s Way, AccessMatters, Choice Philadelphia, Women’s Medical Fund, Allentown Women’s Center, Philadelphia Women’s Center and Pennsylvania Now rallied at Broad and Walnut streets to raise awareness about a women’s access to legal abortion services.

Roe v. Wade established women have a constitutional right to abortion. However, pro-choice advocates are concerned these rights are being eroded.

“The fight isn’t over yet,” said Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. “We want people to understand what ... lawmakers are doing. They’re still trying to pass legislation and wage attacks on access to abortions services, often under the guise of protecting women’s health. Obstacles don’t safeguard women’s health, they endanger women.

“We’re here to set the record straight that legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures there is and we’re going to do everything we can to keep it safe, legal and accessible to all women who need it.”

The Guttmacher Institute recently released its annual legislative report showing during the 2014 state legislative season, state lawmakers across the country introduced 335 provisions aimed at restricting access to safe, legal abortion.

“More than half of women of reproductive age now live in states where abortion access has become extremely restrictive,” Steinberg said.

Steinberg and other demonstrators held signs such as “Protect Roe,” “Protect All Reproductive Options” and “Personal Health Decisions Are Private Matters.”

Frances Cornwell of Philadelphia was on hand to show her support. She said it’s important to ensure women continue to have access to legal abortion services.

“I’m too old to be having an abortion, but the next generation should not be denied the right to an abortion,” said Cornwell. “We don’t have the right to deny a person their choice — that’s between them and their god.”

While pro-choice advocates rallied here in Center City, anti-abortion demonstrators crowded onto the National Mall in Washington for the 42nd annual March for Life. The demonstrators carried signs ranging from ones that said “Defend Life” and “I am a voice for the voiceless” to “Thank God my mom’s prolife.” The march is held annually on the same day that in 1973 the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade.

Demonstrations were held around the nation on Thursday. As demonstrators were packing the National Mall, in D.C., Republicans muscled legislation through the House tightening federal restrictions on abortions.

The measure would bar individuals and many employers from collecting tax credits for insurance plans covering abortion they pay for privately and purchase through exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.

The White House warned President Barack Obama would veto the measure, all but ensuring it would not become law.

The vote came hours after lawmakers abruptly abandoned another bill banning most late-term abortions because a rebellion led by female Republican lawmakers left them short of votes.

Demonstrator John Castelot, 58, of Manchester, N.H., said he was disappointed Congress would not pass the bill banning most late-term abortions.

“After twenty weeks, that’s halfway through a pregnancy,” said Castelot, who said he has been coming to the march for about 10 years.

“You’d think that would be a no-brainer for people to support. I think the legislation was flawed.”

Among the speakers who addressed the group were several members of Congress, including Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

McMorris Rodgers, who has a 7-year-old son with Down syndrome, told the crowd her son has made her even more committed to the anti-abortion fight.

“Every child and every life is a gift,” she said.

After hearing from speakers, the crowd marched from the National mall to the U.S. Supreme Court.

TheAssociated Press contributed to this report

ajones@phillytrib.com

(215) 893-5747

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