President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his belief in a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion as tens of thousands of abortion opponents held their annual rally in Washington.

President Obama issued a statement Thursday calling abortion a sensitive and divisive issue. While he said the government must not intrude in private family matters, the country is united on the need to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Thursday's annual gathering, which supporters call the Right to Life March, came on the 36th anniversary of Roe versus Wade - the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Supporters of the landmark decision say it protects women's lives and makes the right to choose to have a safe and legal abortion sacred.

Abortion opponents say life starts at conception and liken abortion to genocide.

They urge women with unwanted pregnancies to carry their babies to term and give them up for adoption.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.