OLYMPIA — Opponents of abortion filled the Capitol steps Tuesday as legislators urged them to fight against federal health care mandates and proposals that would set new rules for their crisis pregnancy clinics.
A crowd estimated at more than 4,000 by the Washington State Patrol marched from the nearby gardens under banners representing the Orthodox Church, Catholic parishes, the Knights of Columbus or the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Demonstrators carried crosses draped with rosaries or adorned with roses, professionally printed octagonal red signs that said “Stop Abortion Now” or hand-lettered messages such as “Which are more protected, Babies or Whales?”
State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Greenacres, asked for their help to pass a bill requiring every minor considering an abortion to have an ultrasound and another that would nullify the effects of any national health care legislation in Washington.
“If we get life issues wrong, we get every other issue wrong,” Shea said.
State Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, urged them to lobby against a bill that she said would require so-called Crisis Pregnancy Clinics to include abortion as an option when talking to patients. That’s a violation of both freedom of speech and freedom of religion, Stevens said.
SB 6452 requires what it calls “limited service pregnancy centers” to tell a patient in advertising and on her first visit that they do not offer abortion or comprehensive birth control services, to give only “medically and scientifically accurate” information and to tell a patient that a pregnancy test is an over-the-counter test which she can administer herself.
About a dozen abortion-rights protesters stood across the parking area on the steps to the state Supreme Court building, sometimes banging a drum, other times chanting “My Body, My Choice” or “Keep it Safe and Legal.” But they were drowned out by the anti-abortion crowd spelling out “L-I-F-E, Life!” or “We are, we are Pro-Life” to the cadence of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” About the only time the counter-demonstrators could be heard for a prolonged period was when the abortion protesters were hushed for the opening prayer.