OLYMPIA – The pouring rain didn’t dampen the spirits of thousands of pro-life supporters who rallied on the steps of the state Capitol during the annual March for Life.
“We need to be galvanized, we need to be reminded that we’re out there every day on the front lines,” Noreen McEntee Hobson, president of Washington State March for Life, told the crowd, estimated by one media outlet at more than 5,000.
“You’re not alone,” said McEntee Hobson, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Tacoma. Others with the same belief in the dignity of human life “are standing with you at the Capitol and across this state,” she added.
The state event, and other marches across the country, are held around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the U.S.
Before the march, Catholics from around the Archdiocese of Seattle — including adults, children and students from Catholic schools — gathered for the Mass for Life. To accommodate the crowds, the Mass was celebrated at two churches: Sacred Heart in Lacey, where Archbishop Paul D. Etienne was the celebrant, and St. Michael in Olympia, where Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo presided.
In his homily, Archbishop Etienne set the tone for the day’s events, explaining they are a way to continue the mission of Christ by bringing the values of Jesus into the public discourse.
“Today is one of those days where we have an interesting convergence of our political action that is overlapped, infused, conjoined with our role as members of the body of Christ,” Archbishop Etienne said.
“We are here to celebrate the truth and reality that once a life is conceived, it shares the dignity of humanity,” Archbishop Etienne said. “It shares the gift of the plan of God, the breath of God, the life of God already in seminal form, and we hold this belief dearly. Thus we are willing to make a very strong public statement” about the unborn.
“We pray for all who are engaged in this public discourse about the right of the unborn to have life, that they will be honest about this gift of life,” the archbishop said. “That they will be honest about what a fetus is — a new life.”
He added his prayers that political leaders “may speak with truth and engage … this highly emotional debate in this country with a commitment to truth about the human person and be willing and capable of placing that truth ahead of any and all other agendas.”
“We pray for a good public discourse in this regard; respectful, including our contribution, because those that we engage with are also a part of God’s family. They, too, share the dignity and sanctity of human life, and we engage them respectfully.”
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne presides at the Mass for Life at Sacred Heart Parish in Lacey on January 21, 2020. Photo: Rowland Studio
After Mass, participants gathered at the Winged Victory Monument on the Capitol campus. A light rain turned into a downpour, but the marchers continued on to the steps of the state Capitol, where they gathered to hear from McEntee Hobson and 10 pro-life state legislators.
Some legislators have spoken at the March for Life for many years, but a new face this year was Rep. Kelly Chambers, a 25th District Republican from Puyallup. She told the story of her unplanned pregnancy at age 16, and her determination to have that baby, a daughter.
“I had a can-do attitude and I knew I could keep my baby and I would still achieve my goals of graduating from high school and becoming the first person in my family to go to college,” Chambers said. “It was the best decision I could have made,” she said, adding that her daughter is a college graduate and works for the Seattle Mariners.
“She’s a beautiful, strong, confident and kind person, and I have a best friend in her, so thank you for what you are standing for,” Chambers told the crowd.
McEntee Hobson echoed Chambers’ sentiments.
“That’s the message — the baby isn’t the enemy of your dreams, the baby is your dreams,” she said. “Babies are never the enemy, they are not the burden. They are the blessing, they are the gift, they are the resource.”
After the rally concluded, the rain let up briefly and a rainbow appeared. Then several groups of marchers went inside the legislative building to speak with their legislators.