PORTLAND — In decades as an annual event in Salem, and more recently in Portland, the Roe vs. Wade Memorial Rally has seen plenty of traditional January weather — rain, snow and wind.
But this year’s pro-life rally January 19 at Pioneer Courthouse Square took place under the same welcoming conditions as last year’s — clear, sunny skies that gave a blue backdrop to hundreds of bright yellow balloons labeled “LIFE.”
An estimated 3,000 people turned out, said Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, the rally’s primary sponsor. Co-sponsors were Oregon Family Council and Christian News Northwest, supported by other groups.
The event memorialized the estimated 56 million lives lost to abortion since the Jan. 22, 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion on demand.
Keynote speaker was Janet (Folger) Porter, president and founder of Ohio-based Faith2Action, the nation’s largest network of “pro-family” groups working to preserve traditional values. Porter initiated the nation’s first “Heartbeat Bill” in Ohio in 2011 to legally protect unborn babies with detectable heartbeats.
Acknowledging that Oregon is known as a liberal state and difficult for pro-life legislation, Porter nevertheless encouraged the crowd to press on.
“It doesn’t matter how dark it is,” she said. “In the battle between darkness and light, light wins … If you will get it out from the four walls of the church, the light will win.”
As examples, Porter cited: Oregon Right to Life’s success in defeating five pro-abortion bills in last year’s state legislative session; a 73 percent decrease in abortion facilities nationally in recent years, and polls showing youth are now more pro-life than anytime since 1973.
Rebecca Barnes, regional head of Students for Life, said six new chapters have been set up this past year on Oregon campuses. “I truly believe that this generation of young people, we are in the best place to abolish abortion,” she said.
Other speakers, including Roman Catholic Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland and Oregon Right to Life President Dr. Joan Sage, noted the steady decline in the state’s abortion rate.
“We are changing hearts,” said Sample. “We must not stop the fight.”