Eighth-graders from the Blessed Teresa Calcutta school in Ferguson were among those making the trip to Washington for yesterday's annual anti-abortion rally
Many of those riding in the nine buses that arrived early today from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to commemorate the 38th anniversary Roe v. Wade say they are optimistic about further limiting abortion.
Overturning the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion seemed unlikely any time soon. But leaders professed hopes that new or strengthened Republican majorities will be able to further their cause both in Washington and Jefferson City.
"We don't know what will happen two years from, now but pro-lifers are hoping we can take advantage of this opportunity," said Sam Lee of St. Louis, a lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri.
Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, said the GOP success in recapturing the U.S. House already paid dividends in the vote last week to repeal the new health care law.
The Senate is not expected to take up the repeal legislation. But Fichter said the vote "was a big step and a strong message" given fears among some that the law enabled taxpayer funding for abortions.
Travelers from Missouri and Illinois joined a rally at noon Eastern time before marching in temperatures not expected to climb out of the mid-20s.
In separate appearances in front of the Missourians before the rally, members of Congress from the region professed support for newly filed legislation to prohibit public funding for abortion.
Legislation named the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act aims to widen prohibitions already in a law known as the Hyde Amendment.
Groups pro-choice on abortion have strongly criticized the proposed legislation, arguing that it would impose tax penalties on people with private insurance plans that include abortion coverage.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, said the legislation likely would pass the House given the Republicans' sizeable majority.
"That said, it may not get through the Senate," he told the gathering.
Luetkemeyer added: "We're going to push this on to the decks of the Senate and make them either stand up or sit down."
Given new inroads in state legislatures, the anti-abortion forces said they intend to press legislation this year modeled after a Nebraska law that bans late-term abortions.
Lee said he expected a version of that legislation and other anti-abortion bills to be introduced in the Missouri General Assembly by week's end.