Rally draws 230 to Lewiston

·4 min read

Jan. 23—An 82-year-old Clarkston woman at the March for Life on Saturday in Lewiston said she braved chilly morning temperatures to support the anti-abortion event, partly because her family was faced with a difficult choice years ago.

After her daughter was sexually assaulted at the age of 19 and became pregnant, Ada Couch remembers telling her she would back whatever decision the young woman made. When abortion was ruled out, Couch breathed a sigh of relief.

"She opted for an open adoption, and now I have a granddaughter and great-granddaughter because of that decision," Couch said. "I am not for abortion. Period. But I never thought a whole lot about it until my family was faced with an unplanned pregnancy."

Over the years, Couch, who worked in the medical field for 26 years, said she's known women who chose abortion, and believes they often suffer from lingering trauma and regret. "A mother never gets over that baby they aborted," she said. "At least the people I knew never did."

Couch was among 230 people who took part in this year's March for Life, which was organized by Shannon Eggleston, of Asotin. The group gathered at Brackenbury Square and walked to the Nez Perce County Courthouse and back, carrying signs with anti-abortion messages and photos.

"Watching the news and reading headlines, we may often feel helpless in the face of heartbreaking lack of respect for human life," Eggleston told supporters. "When our efforts to make a difference feel small, there are two things to remember: pray and give. Changing the culture is a process of conversion that begins in our own hearts."

Kelly Turney, the 26-year-old director of Hope Center in Grangeville and Kamiah, was the keynote speaker. She was born in the mission field in Mexico while her parents were overseeing an orphanage there for five years.

According to Turney, 1.2 million babies were aborted in 1995, the year of her birth, and about 3.9 million children were born.

"With a statistic of almost one out of four babies, it's amazing that I am standing here today," Turney said. "You see, I am what they would consider a millennial, and more than 24 million of my generation did not survive, due to abortion. The Lord blessed me with parents who wanted and loved me. I've been given the gift of life, as you have."

The pro-life community has a duty to be kind and caring, offering a smile and hope to women who wonder whether they have any safe place to turn, Turney said. Area pregnancy centers are here to help, and personal encounters are important.

"If we could only spend a moment to pour love and knowledge into a person with the same loving care as Christ does for us, then imagine how it could change the mindset of our culture, and to not make a decision based on fear and pressure, but to choose what is right and good."

March for Life events across the country coincide with the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that made abortion legal in the U.S. The law protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

"Perhaps in the next few years, the Roe v. Wade ruling we've fought for so long will come to an end at last, and the world will need more people like you and places like Hope Center, Life Choices and Reliance Center that much more," Turney said.

Along the route, the march didn't garner any noteworthy negative responses from motorists. Some honks and cheers could be heard, but one woman walking by asked an observer what the rally was about. "They must be fun at parties," she said.

Amy Knapp, a 54-year-old Lewiston resident, said she's been attending the event for decades. Her mother, Nelia Hartwig, is a former Lewiston city councilor who helped launch the March for Life in this area more than 30 years ago. Since then, four generations of Hartwig's family have participated.

"Preserving the sanctity of life is very important to me," Knapp said. "I think we should stand up for what we believe in, and put our money where our mouths are."

The consequences of abortion are especially evident when people begin exploring their family's genealogy, said Knapp, who cares for the elderly in the Orchards.

"If your great-grandma was aborted, how many people would be eliminated?" Knapp said. "If you take away that one person, you can just imagine how bare your family tree would be."

Sandaine can be reached at kerris@lmtribune.com.