Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Legislative Building and the Temple of Justice in Olympia on Tuesday to remind state lawmakers that they’re watching.
The annual March for Life rally marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that led to legalized abortion nationwide.
Some rally attendees said they plan to keep a close eye this year on proposed legislation that would require health insurance plans sold in Washington to cover voluntary abortions if the plan also covers maternity care.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, called the proposal a mandate. He led the crowd in a sort of call-and-response chant about fighting the bill and a chorus of “God Bless America.” Klippert encouraged the crowd to return to the Capitol when the bill gets a hearing.
“We’re going to fight with you, we’re going to win, and we’re not going to let this pass in Washington state,” Klippert said.
Another rally speaker, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, plugged a bill calling for a declaration that life begins at the moment of fertilization. Ten House Republican lawmakers have signed on to the proposal, House Bill 1259.
Padden also spoke about Senate Bill 5156, the latest attempt to pass a parental notification requirement. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, would require abortion providers to give at least 48 hours’ notice to the parent or guardian of a pregnant girl younger than 18 before performing an abortion. The bill has 18 senators’ signatures.
“And for the first time in probably 15 years, that bill will receive a hearing,” said Padden, who chairs the Senate Law & Justice Committee that will consider the bill. Padden said in a press release that the bill wouldn’t prohibit an underage girl from getting an abortion, but rather provide her parents or guardians the time to talk with her or prepare to care for her afterward.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, told the gathering that not requiring parental notification is inconsistent with existing laws.
“You cannot get a tattoo if you’re under 16, even if you have your parent’s permission,” Roach said.
The State Patrol gave a crowd estimate of 3,500.