BOISE — Of the people who spoke on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol building Saturday afternoon during the annual pro-life March for Life rally, only one was a woman.
Kerry Uhlenkott, a legislative coordinator for Right to Life of Idaho, told the assembled crowd — a few hundred strong and unperturbed by the drizzly weather — that last year Idaho became the fourth state to pass a law requiring women who receive drug-induced abortions be told the procedure can be reversed before it’s completed.
“This new Idaho law requires women be given this information,” Uhlenkott said.
To date, she said, 500 women have received the reversal — and thus, she said, the lives of 500 babies have been saved. That’s in large part due to the efforts of pro-life advocates and lawmakers in the state, some of whom were at the Idaho State Capitol Saturday.
Her remarks were met with thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd, which had gathered not long before at Julia Davis Park and marched down a closed Capitol Boulevard while chanting “we are the pro-life generation.”
The March for Life is held each year on the Saturday closest to the Jan. 22, 1973, anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. That landmark ruling held a woman’s right to abort her pregnancy is constitutionally protected by the implied right to privacy.
Uhlenkott and others see abortion as the taking of a life, however, and believe the fight against it is a moral one. She cited remarks from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during Friday’s national March for Life in Washington, D.C.
“He called our movement a movement of mercy, and that is what it is,” Uhlenkott said.
U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, heard those remarks in person, and had only just returned to Idaho from the nation’s capital.
“There was a sea of people that was so large I literally could not see the end of it,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Fulcher said he’d received a visit from a 9-year-old girl named Paulina, who arrived at his office in Washington, D.C. with her mother.
“Paulina’s mom turned away from an abortion due to the work of a pro-life clinic...here in Boise,” Fulcher said, as the crowd cheered.
At the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Paulina herself appeared alongside Pence, Fulcher told the audience.
Fulcher was among those in the U.S. House of Representatives who penned a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, imploring him not to sign any legislation which might loosen restrictions on abortions. In total, 169 representatives and 49 senators signed the letter.
Fulcher made a point of returning to Boise for the march.
“There is no more important cause in the world and I wanted to be here for this,” Fulcher said.
For Jason Herring, pastor of True North Church, who keynoted the event, the movement is also important — as important, he said, as the abolition of slavery. He reminded the crowd abolitionists faced numerous setbacks and trials, but ultimately prevailed.
He said they faced “many minor victories and major setbacks, and the same is true of the pro-life cause we’re in today.”
For that reason, Uhlenkott said she was glad to see a crowd full of young people.
One of them was Judson Robertson, 14, who led the march, carrying a child-sized casket draped in flowers. Robertson became involved with the march through his church, Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church.
“I’ve always been very pro-life,” he said. “My oldest brother is adopted, so that’s very cool.”
As the crowd behind him chanted “we are the pro-life generation,” he said he believed the mantra was factually true of youth his age.
“I know a lot of teens — Catholic and non-Catholic — who are pro-life,” he said.
His assessment tracks with some national data showing younger Americans do support restrictions on abortion. In January 2018, for instance, the Washington Post cited a survey which found 49 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds would support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Pat King, who helped organize and lead the group before it left Julia Davis Park, said organizers wanted youth and children to take part in the march. The subject matter, he said, isn’t too weighty for them — while they might not understand the technicalities of the issue, they understand what’s going on, he said.
That urge to make the march accessible to people was why organizers chose to hold the event on a Saturday, King said, even when other marches took place on Friday.
The scheduling had nothing to do with the Womxn’s March earlier in the day, said Herring, of True North Church. The two groups — while often philosophically opposed — have communicated amicably enough when scheduling, he said.
He didn’t participate in the Womxn’s March this year, he said, but in years past he and his son both did, carrying a banner reading “pro-woman, pro-girl, pro-life.”
The March for Life is, in and of itself, a march for women, he said.
“We believe in every abortion there are two victims — there’s the unborn child, and there’s the woman,” he said.