updated 1/23/2006 2:38:42 PM ET 2006-01-23T19:38:42

President Bush told abortion opponents Monday that they are pursuing “a noble cause” and predicted that their views would prevail eventually.

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“We’re working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause,” the president told abortion foes gathered at the foot of Capitol Hill on a chilly, rainy day. He spoke by telephone from Manhattan, Kan., where he gave a speech.

“This is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens and is rooted in America’s deepest principles,” the president said. “And history tells us that with such a cause we will prevail.”

The rally was held to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. Bush has named two justices to the Supreme Court, and abortion foes hope someday that the court will reverse its landmark decision on abortion.

Abortion supporters held a rally on Sunday, urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. They held a candlelight vigil in front of the court, waving signs that read: “Alito—No Justice For Women,” and “Keep Abortion Legal.”

“You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient,” Bush told the abortion foes.

“These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children,” the president said.

Members of Congress, including Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Mike Pence, R-Ind. and Melissa Hart, R-Pa., addressed the rally in person. They encouraged young people opposed to abortion to run for public office.

“It’s time to get off the streets and into the government suites,” Smith said.

After the rally on the National Mall, the demonstrators marched to the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

Other rallies were being held across the country.

In St. Paul, Minn., Katie Whitte braved below-freezing temperatures outside the state capitol to march for the first time against abortion.

“This year is special for me because I am a mother out of wedlock,” said Whitte, 20, whose daughter is 5 months old. “I wanted to get the message out that life is important. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are.”

The nation’s high court made abortion legal on Jan. 22, 1973. Thirty-four states have since passed laws requiring parents either to be notified or to give consent when their underage daughters seek abortions.

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