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Texas governor addresses L.A. anti-abortion rally

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry, viewed as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, ventured far from his home state on Sunday to address a largely Hispanic group at an anti-abortion rally in Los Angeles.

The governor's English-language remarks to a crowd of about 5,000 came as part of a daylong, mostly Spanish-language event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to raise money for a new women's health center in South Los Angeles.

He urged the crowd to keep up pressure to roll back the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion until "Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation's history books.

Perry, a frequent critic of the federal government, also bashed President Barack Obama for his administration's policy allowing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, saying he was deeply disturbed by studies that turn "the remains of unborn children into nothing more than raw material."

Since Roe v. Wade, Perry said, "50 million children have lost their chance at life -- a tragic legacy of judicial activism and a stark reminder that our culture and our country are still in peril."

Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, has said that he will "think about" running for president. Last week, news that two of Perry's former campaign advisors had resigned from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign fueled speculation that Perry would indeed run.

Sunday's event, where Perry received a standing ovation, was a chance for him to highlight his conservative credentials outside Texas.

He talked about state legislation he recently signed into law that requires women seeking an abortion to first obtain a sonogram. He had designated the bill an emergency, putting it on the fast track during this year's legislative session.

"There is no such thing as an unwanted child in the eyes of God," said Perry, who has invited the nation's governors to Houston this summer for a prayer event.

Perry criticized Obama for overturning a policy that prevented U.S. funding of organizations that perform or promote abortions in foreign countries.

"With the stroke of a pen, abortion essentially became a U.S. foreign export," Perry said.

Perry was joined on Sunday by Mexican-born movie actor Eduardo Verastegui, whose nonprofit organization co-sponsored the event, and by soap opera star Veronica Castro.

"After he found out about this event, he said he really wanted to unite himself to anything we were doing to end abortion," Verastegui said of Perry.

The event was not Perry's only appearance outside the Lone Star state this month. He is slated to speak on Tuesday at a Republican dinner in New York, replacing real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump, who had originally been scheduled to speak. Perry also plans to appear on Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

(Writing by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Steve Gorman)

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