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Protesters Mark 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are heading to Washington this week to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade -- the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Abortion opponents hold what they call the March for Life every year. This year's march, set for Friday, includes a rally near the U.S. Capitol and a protest outside the Supreme Court building.

Dozens came out in sub-freezing temperatures for the actual anniversary Tuesday to spread 3,300 flowers outside the court. Organizers say the number represents the number of abortions in the United States every day.

The anti-abortion activists have been trying for 40 years to get Roe v. Wade overturned. Federal and state lawmakers have also fought for restrictions on abortions. They say life begins at the moment of conception and that science backs them up. They also say some women use abortion as a form of contraception.

The abortion rights group, National Organization for Women, held a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening in front of the Supreme Court to mark the 1973 decision.

Abortion rights activists along with many doctors say legalized abortion is a basic right. They say the court decision has saved thousands of lives of women whose health would have been in danger if they had been compelled to have a child. They also argue that women are no longer forced to seek unsafe abortions or even try the procedure on themselves with deadly results.

A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that 54 percent of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in almost all circumstances. The same survey also shows 70 percent oppose overturning Roe v Wade.

President Barack Obama has also come out in favor of abortion rights.