Thousands of abortion opponents converged on the Capitol Campus for the annual March for Life on Tuesday, three days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court that legalized abortion.
Many of those attending gathered on the sidewalks across from the Winged Victory monument before cramming together on the Capitol steps at noon. State troopers estimated the crowd at 6,000, up from an estimated 4,000 or so who took part last year. It takes about 5,000 people to blanket the Capitol steps, troopers said.
Aileen McEntee Carrell served as the emcee; her late mother, Kathy McEntee, founded the event.
“Kathy started this 32 years ago and sadly, we are still here. We will not stop moving,” said McEntee, the vice president of the march.
Marchers of all ages brought signs, the most popular of which was two-sided and read, “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood” and “Women Do Regret Abortion.” Organizers handed out roses, a symbol of the anti-abortion movement.
A number of legislators and several hopefuls vying for seats in Congress came to show support.
“You know, if we get the life issue wrong, we get every single other issue wrong,” said state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley.
Shea is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1688, which he said would require a mandatory ultrasound for all minors considering an abortion. He also is sponsoring House Bill 2669, which would nullify universal health care coverage in Washington – “because nationalized health care would bring more abortions,” he said.
Several lawmakers voiced displeasure over a pair of bills recently introduced by pro-abortion organizations that would force the state’s limited-service pregnancy centers, also called crisis pregnancy centers, to inform potential clients that they do not provide medical care for pregnant women, abortions or comprehensive birth-control services.
The legislation also would require the centers to give women free written pregnancy test results immediately and provide reproductive health information that is “medically and scientifically accurate.” And it would require the centers to safeguard the privacy of the information collected from women who use the services.
Backers of House Bill 2837 and companion Senate Bill 6452 say women seeking help from the centers, which usually are run by volunteers who have religious affiliations, go to them thinking they will receive medical care and unbiased pregnancy counseling.
“We must stop this legislation,” said Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington. “I would like to see it stopped before it ever gets a hearing. There are legislators that need to be contacted; there are legislators that need to be discouraged from the vote on this bill.”
State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, told the crowd that the proposed legislation would heavily damage the crisis pregnancy centers.
“It would absolutely crush the ability of these centers to do their job and offer options to pregnant women,” Benton said. “Pregnancy centers are critical to saving lives.”
Organizers of Tuesday’s march also said they support the proposed amendments to the national health-care-reform bill that would restrict the abortion coverage provided by federal insurance subsidies.
More than a dozen young pro-abortion demonstrators rallied on the steps of the Temple of Justice nearby. They took aim at some of the religious groups gathered for the march with chants such as, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” and “I enjoy my sexual freedom more than you enjoy praying for me.”
Sisters Organize for Survival will sponsor a rally described as promoting reproductive rights and basic health care at noon Friday at the Capitol. Friday is the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.