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A ‘post-Roe’ world means need will be greater to care for moms and babies, marchers told

Above, Idaho youths with Treasure Valley Teens for Life attend a Vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the national March for Life. (ICR photos/Carol Brown and Vero Gutiérrez)

By Emily Woodham

and Gene Fadness

Idaho Catholic Register

There was an added optimism to the traditionally upbeat March for Life in major cities across the United States as well as the Idaho cities of Boise, Moscow, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston.

“After hearing the Supreme Court’s questions during the oral hearings on Dobbs, we are very optimistic that the majority may vote to return abortion jurisdiction back to the states,” said Kerry Uhlenkott, the legislative coordinator for Right to Life Idaho.

Uhlenkott, speaking to marchers in Boise, was referring to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic case recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the high court votes to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormality, the result would essentially overturn the precedent established in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. A ruling is expected at the conclusion of the Court’s current term in June.

If that happens, Idaho may ban most abortions, Uhlenkott said at the Boise rally, which,

like marches in Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene was held on Saturday, Jan. 22, the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Moscow pro-lifers marched through their community on Jan. 15.

In addition to the Idaho marches, a dozen members of Treasure Valley Teens for Life attended the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 21 and the National Pro-Life Summit on Jan. 22.

Members of Treasure Valley Teens for Life and their chaperones attended the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the National Pro-Life Summit. They also visited the office of Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and toured the U.S. Capitol. They attended Mass at a chapel frequented by Archbishop John Carroll, the first Bishop in the United States. (Photo courtesy of Carol Brown)

Before the Boise march, Diocese of Boise Bishop Peter Christensen celebrated a Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist heralding a hoped-for “new day for our Diocese and our country.”

Young people made up a large contingent of those who attended pro-life marches in Boise and across the nation. Above are marchers in Boise. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

Uhlenkott told the approximate 1,000 marchers that Right to Life of Idaho, the Diocese of Boise and the Idaho Family Policy Center are working together to support legislation that would strengthen a bill passed last year that bans abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, typically five to six weeks after conception. Uhlenkott said that the Idaho organizations hope to pattern Idaho’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill after one passed last year in Texas.

The Texas law is the first in the nation that relies on enforcement by private individuals through civil lawsuits rather than having state officials enforce the law with criminal or civil penalties. The Texas act authorizes members of the public to sue anyone who performs or facilitates an illegal abortion for a minimum of $10,000 in statutory damages per abortion, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.

The ban on abortion after six weeks in Texas has resulted in more women seeking help from pregnancy resource centers, and the same is expected to happen in Idaho, Uhlenkott said.

“We believe this will be a time of mercy and conversion for many of these abortion-minded women who will be coming into our pregnancy resource centers. We praise God and thank Him for this great opportunity to minister to them and be of service to them,” she said.

Heather Lawless, founder and CEO of one of those pregnancy resource centers – the Reliance Center in Lewiston – said the pro-life community needs to be ready to help women who will no longer have access to abortion if the Supreme Court decision in the Mississippi case does in fact overturn-Roe v. Wade. About 23 states, including Idaho, have “trigger” laws that would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected if the U.S. Supreme Court so moves, Lawless said, making support for mothers even more crucial, she said.

Lawless was among the speakers at the rally at the Capitol. The Reliance Center in Lewiston, like most pregnancy resource centers, offers medical care and education to women with unplanned pregnancies as well as assistance after the baby is born.

“We have to step up and supply women with real, practical help to make abortion be seen as unneeded,” Lawless said. “We need to make abortion unthinkable.”

Part of the reason for Lawless’s passion about abortion comes from her own story. Doctors told Lawless’s mother and family members that Lawless should be aborted because it was believed her mother would not survive a pregnancy. Despite the odds, her mother chose life and both she and baby survived.

Lawless also was married but later was divorced and facing her own unplanned pregnancy by the time she was 23. Lawless chose to have her baby, a daughter, who is now 18. Another daughter, Lawless’ stepdaughter, became pregnant when she was 19 and worried about her parents’ reaction given their views. “Our response was to give her the same grace, mercy and love that we have had for all the other young women we have helped at our center,” Lawless said. Many women fear they will be rejected or humiliated if they are single and pregnant, she said. The pro-life community needs to provide support, not judgment or criticism, she said.

To be truly pro-life, people must do more than show up at marches, Lawless said. Pro-lifers should become aware of the needs in their communities, particularly assisting women who choose life, she said. People can donate time or resources to a pregnancy center and should make a daily commitment to supporting life, she said.

Cindy Lange, president of Choose Life Idaho, Inc., also spoke at the rally about how she helped start the organization that promotes license plates in order to support pregnancy resource and adoption centers in Idaho.

“I’m a cradle Catholic who is passionate for the pro-life cause,” she said. “What could be more important than saving lives?”

Lange became interested in Choose Life license plates when she found out that other states raised more than $28 million to support pro-life efforts through the sale of license plates.

Choose Life America contacted Lange, and she immediately set to work. With the help of family and friends, she began Choose Life Idaho, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. She also began a grass-roots effort to pass legislation for a Choose Life Idaho license plate. Senator Regina Bayer and Representative Brent Crane sponsored the bill. Legislation was passed and signed into law in 2020, allowing for the sale of Choose Life Idaho license plates in 2021.

“Our license plate logo beautifully represents our mission to help women choose life for their unborn child,” Lange said.

“The image of a man holding a child surrounded by a heart with a healthy heartbeat

sends a message of love, mercy and hope. The heart symbolizes love for the

unborn and mercy for those wounded by abortion. The man lifting the child reminds us that men have a voice and a responsibility to protect women and children. We can change the world one heart at a time.”

From the registration of each Choose Life plate in Idaho, $22 goes to pregnancy resource or adoption centers. In order for the program to continue into 2022, 1,000 plates were needed to be purchased by the end of the year. By August, there were only 490 plates registered. But by year’s end, after an extensive media campaign, the remaining 510 plates were purchased. Choose Life Idaho needs only about 275 more plates to meet a 1,500-plate quota by the end of 2022 in order to continue the plate into 2023.

At a Mass earlier in the day, Bishop Peter Christensen took note of the “trillions” of snowflakes that fell in the Boise area the previous Thursday, noting that up-close photographs of snowflakes – which he included in the bulletin of the Mass – reveal that all are intricately designed by the Creator and no two are alike.

“Just because we may not pay attention, looking at creation in all of its detail, that does not mean that the created world – even the world that is somewhat hidden – does not exist,” the Bishop said. “God still works his wonders in our world, whether we acknowledge these words or not, whether we acknowledge Him or not.”

Just as no two snowflakes are exactly like, no two humans have the same DNA, the Bishop said. “Each one is totally unique.” There is a pattern in God’s creative power and in His design on – and plans for – each human life, the Bishop said. “I truly believe that the seemingly hidden patterns in life are seen in a fuller dimension by those who look upon them with eyes of faith. The great contemplatives have proven this time and again throughout our history,” he said.

He referred to God’s plans for the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus, plans made evident even before they were born. Referring to the Gospel reading for the Mass from Luke 1:39-56, the Bishop mentioned how John the Baptist, while still in Elizabeth’s womb, leaped for joy upon the arrival of Mary, who was carrying Jesus in her womb.

“Two infants at work, already changing the world, even before either of them touched the ground,” the Bishop said.

Scriptures like these and even seemingly hidden messages like the meaning of the names of the cities where John the Baptist and Jesus were born all point to a pattern in God’s plan of creation, the Bishop noted. “It’s a good reminder that, no matter what we face ... no matter how oblique or seemingly invisible the plans or presence of God seems to be in our lives, God is still present. We are a people of hope, and we have reason to be a hopeful people. And we are called to bring others into that hope as well.”

Being pro-life is not merely about promoting legislation, the Bishop said, but rather acknowledging and witnessing to the world the “loving restorative designs” God has for the world and for His beloved children, each one a unique creation.

Bishop Peter Christensen receives a rose from a mother and her baby during the March for Life Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Forty-nine people brought up roses, each one carrying a sign representing one of the years since 1973 when abortion was legal-ized in the United States. The roses were given to the Bishop and then placed at the foot of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)


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