Some motorists passing St. Mary’s Catholic Church yesterday honked or waved.
Others turned away, shook their heads or flashed a thumbs-down.
Protesters stood on the icy sidewalk carrying signs against abortion Tuesday — the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. The demonstrators, mostly parishioners at the church, called the landmark decision a dark day in the country’s history.
Protester Bryan Walman summed up the group’s mission.
“Today we defend those who can’t defend themselves,” he said.
Veronica Wilson clutched a sign in her frozen fingers that left no gray areas as to her opinion of Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood steals souls,” the sign said. The sentiment was repeated on the back side in Latin.
Bundled up against the frigid weather, the Pendleton woman said abortion goes against what she called “natural law.”
“When you have man’s law trying to change natural law, you’re going to have problems,” Wilson said.
Just down the sidewalk, Sarah Feller held both her 1-year-old daughter Mary and a poster that said, “Give your baby a birthday.”
The Pendleton mother of six reflected on four decades of Roe v. Wade.
“It’s the anniversary of a sad day in our nation,” said Feller, shaking her head. “People have lost respect for life.”
A 21-year-old single Texas woman, Norma Leah McCorvey (Jane Roe), set the lawsuit in motion when she could not get a legal abortion. Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade was named defendant. The lawsuit took three years to work its way through court, long after McCorvey gave birth and her baby was adopted.
The Supreme Court decision transformed abortion from a dangerous unregulated or self-inflicted action into a legal, generally safe procedure for women.
The Pendleton protestors, however, focused on the unborn.
Feller’s son Thomas, 5, carried a sign that proclaimed, “Jan. 22, 1973: A sad day for America’s unborn children.”
Abortion continues to divide the American public 40 years after Roe v. Wade, though more Americans support the court decision today.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that while about half of Americans say abortion is morally wrong, only 29 percent want the law to be overturned. Another survey, done by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, found that seven out of 10 Americans favor the Roe v. Wade ruling.
States are allowed to add restrictions to abortion laws. Nine states require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds and women in 35 states must receive prior counseling. In 26 states, a woman must wait a certain period of time, usually 24 hours, before receiving an abortion. In 38 states, parents must be notified or give consent before a minor has an abortion.
Father Bailey Clemens, of St. Mary’s, is a veteran abortion protestor who took part in pro-life marches in Washington, D.C., as a seminary student. He started the local marches shortly after he arrived in Pendleton about eight years ago to “defend life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the unborn.”
Though not everyone who passed by was pleased by the anti-Roe v. Wade event, Clemons said most reacted positively. He grinned and said “no one’s come over the curb yet.”
Walman said he wasn’t bothered by the few who reacted with profanity or rude gestures.
“Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted,” he said.
Contact Kathy Aney at email@example.com or 541-966-0810.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.