OLYMPIA -- Thousands of abortion opponents gathered at the Capitol Monday for the March for Life, carrying signs and listening to legislators tell them to keep up the fight against legal abortion.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, a regular speaker at the annual demonstration, recalled a similar rain-soaked event in 1982, when another Spokane-area Republican, then-Rep. Margaret Leonard, told the crowd the rain was "God shedding tears of joy" for the protesters.
The demonstration is scheduled each year near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion up to a certain point across the country. Washington voters, however, had approved limited abortions before that ruling, and have since passed an initiative supporting the court position and as well as the use of state funds for low-income women.
Legislators who oppose abortion have tried for years without success to pare back those statutes prevent state funds from being used for elective abortions or require parental notification. But in recent years they have blocked Democratic proposals that would require employers whose health insurance covers maternity care to also cover abortion.
Both sides have introduced similar legislation this year.
A small group of counter-protesters gathered on the steps of the nearby Temple of Justice amid the overflow crowd from the Capitol, sometimes heckling speakers with chants like "a fetus is not a baby".