A quiet prayer kicked off an otherwise energetic rally Monday as thousands of people demonstrated on the steps of the Legislative Building in Olympia to oppose abortion.
“We are going to be the state to turn this around,” Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, told the crowd in a passionate speech.
The Washington State Patrol estimated about 2,500 people attended the annual March for Life. A group of about 50 pro-choice demonstrators staged a counter-protest on the Temple of Justice steps facing the Legislative Building.
Initiative 120, also known as the Reproductive Privacy Act, guarantees Washington women access to abortions. Some lawmakers are trying to undo pieces of that access.
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Shea has sponsored a bill that would require women under 18 years old to notify their parents before having an abortion. He also is co-sponsor of a bill that would restrict state funding for abortions.
Sen. Mark Miloscia, a Federal Way Republican who is backing legislation to require parental notification for minors seeking abortions, said he is not optimistic about getting anything passed because of the Democratic majority in the House and the Democratic governor.
“The real important conversation is happening in D.C.,” he said.
Miloscia urged abortion opponents to work on changing their neighbors’ hearts and minds until the Trump administration can change abortion policy, possibly through overturning the Roe v. Wade ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lauren Johnson, 15, of Olympia, was at Monday’s rally with her mother and a few friends. She called abortion “dehumanizing.”
“We as people need to value life more,” Johnson said, “and understand how we treat forms of life we think are inferior.”
The Rev. Vasyl Mutka of Olympia’s St. George Byzantine Catholic Church said abortion opponents need to focus on educating others.
“We have to teach people about the importance of life,” he said. “We have to be peaceful with people who have different positions.”
Democrats later pledged to block efforts to curtail abortion rights.
“Both I and the Democratic caucus will do everything we can to protect Initiative 120 and a woman’s right to choose,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma.
Forrest Holt: 360-943-7240