SALEM — Just five days after the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. was stormed by political protesters, the sponsor of a longtime annual pro-life rally at the Oregon State Capitol here decided last month was perhaps not the best time to hold the event.
Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, announced Jan. 11 that “after thoughtful consideration, counsel and prayer” she was postponing the Jan. 23 Oregon March for Life to a yet-undetermined date this spring.
Instead of the in-person rally, which usually draws several thousand, a virtual online event was instead held Jan. 23.
Anderson said her decision was prompted by rising tensions in Oregon, as well as the ongoing health concerns of the pandemic. The Capitol in Salem saw unrest from protesters as recently as December, and in mid-January there were rumors of further unrest at all 50 state capitols nationally in connection with the contested national presidential election.
“Not only are cases of COVID-19 on the rise in Oregon, tensions are also,” Anderson wrote to Oregon Right to Life supporters. “We have seen some very unsettlling incidents at our own Capitol as well as at the nation’s Capitol. Fringe elements on both sides of the political spectrum have been turning orderly events into dangerous spectacles.”
Anderson also noted that over the decades the annual rally has been held, there has always been “a level of unpedictability that is a part of the event.”
“Counter-protesters and others have tried to disrupt it, thankfully without success,” Anderson stated. “However, the safety of our advocates, staff and volunteers has been, and will continue to be, our primary concern.”
The Oregon March for Life is not only a protest of legal abortion in the state but also serves as a peaceful memorial for the 61 million lives lost nationally to abortion. Joining Oregon Right to Life as co-sponsors are Oregon Family Council, Christian News Northwest and Mater Dei Radio (KBVM 88.3 FM in Portland and KMME 94.9/100.5 FM in Eugene).
The rally has been held primarily outside the Capitol in Salem, but also has been held several times in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square in recent years.
Anderson said she and other organizers hope the in-person rally can be rescheduled toward the end of the state legislative session, possibly in April.