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LI rally eyes upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Mary Diglio of Oyster Bay rallies in front

Mary Diglio of Oyster Bay rallies in front of the Nassau University Medical Center with other anti-abortion advocates. (Jan. 17, 2010) Credit: Joel Cairo

Abortion rights opponents rallied in the rain Sunday outside Nassau University Medical Center to mark the upcoming 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision making abortion legal.

The roughly 80 protesters lined up along Hempstead Turnpike, holding signs depicting aborted fetuses and exhorting passing motorists to "Choose life." Many wore rain ponchos and heavy coats in the cold, steady downpour.

"The reason we come out is to change hearts," said Florence Talluto, 76, of Centereach, who said she has marched against abortion rights since New York State legalized the procedure in 1970, three years before the Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973.

The rally - an annual event organized by Ronkonkoma-based Long Island Coalition for Life - is one of countless gatherings being held across the country this week to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

On Friday, the actual anniversary of the decision, more than 1,000 Long Islanders plan to take 30 chartered buses to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life rally, said Marie Mawn, of Ronkonkoma, the editor of the coalition's newsletter.

"People want to see something happen now," Mawn said, referring to greater restrictions on abortion, if not an outright ban.

Celeste Broyles, of Levittown, the coalition's treasurer, said the group has chosen NUMC as the rally's location for the last four years because it is a quasi-public hospital that performs abortions.

Some motorists honked in support as they drove by.

"Our immediate goal is that people see the signs today and they think about abortion today," said Broyles, who added her group supports post-abortion counseling. An NUMC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Local supporters of abortion rights are also holding events, but to celebrate Roe. v. Wade. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County's event on Jan. 28 in Huntington will feature Aspen Baker, who founded a post-abortion counseling nonprofit in San Francisco.

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