WASHINGTON -- Erin Poling said she never involved herself in politics until a few months ago.
"I hadn't realized before [then] that we could actually lose our right to choose" to have an abortion, said Ms. Poling, 29, an interior designer from Chevy Chase, whose family is fourth-generation Republican.
She was one of at least 2,000 Marylanders who joined several hundred thousand other abortion-rights advocates who packed the national Mall in Washington yesterday for a pro-choice rally.
Ms. Poling's group of about 30, which did not march with the main group of demonstrators, wore red, white and blue T-shirts, emblazoned with "Maryland Republican Coalition for Choice."
"We speak for the Republican majority," Ms. Poling said.
Since she joined the group, Ms. Poling said, she has met with Republican state law makers, distributed literature in Metro stations and convinced some friends to join.
Ms. Poling said the coalition is devoted to "making Republican politicians aware of how many pro-choice party members there are" so they will adopt a pro-choice stand.
At the day-long rally, which included speeches, music and a march past the White House, demonstrators were joined by Hollywood celebrities, the two Democratic presidential candidates and other office-holders. District of Columbia police estimated the crowd at about 500,000 people. The National Organization for Women, which organized the event, said more than 750,000 people attended.
At least 50 chartered buses, including about 20 from college campuses, transported Marylanders to the rally, according to Deborah Davis of Baltimore NOW.
Many of Maryland's participants marched behind a long, blue banner reading "Maryland for Choice," which stretched across Pennsylvania Avenue. Both sides in the abortion issue see this year as a possible turning point for legalized abortion in America. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments April 22 on a Pennsylvania law that imposes restrictions on abortions.
Many believe the court will use that case to undermine or even overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal.