Roe v. Wade decision anniversary brings demonstrators to Sarasota

SARASOTA — The 37th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion brought activists with opposite opinions on the issue to the streets today.

More than 200 people, some with pro-choice signs, others with rosary beads, walked around the Planned Parenthood Regional Headquarters, 736 Central Ave.

Supporters of the Catholic Diocese of Venice’s Respect Life Department arrived at about 8 a.m. for a Prayer Walk for Life rally.

Crawford Bennett Jr., 21 and a student at New College in Sarasota, said he attended the event to support “the right for others to have life — from conception to death.

“We’re not here to judge,” said Bennett, who is a member of the campus organization, Catholic Solidarity. “We have to pray and love.”

Barbara A. Zdravecky, president and CEO of Southwest and Central Florida Planned Parenthood, held a news conference in the courtyard of the building to mark the anniversary of the high court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that affirmed a women’s right to have an abortion.

Zdravecky spoke on “the importance of protecting a women’s access to abortion.

“Anti-choice legislators are using the ongoing health care reform debate as an opportunity to severely restrict women’s access to abortion.”

She referred to the U.S. House amendment to the national health care bill pushed through by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., that bans abortion coverage in private health insurance and bars the use of federal dollars for abortions.

The Prayer Walk for Life participants planned to remain at the Planned Parenthood facility until 4 p.m.