‘Never Be Discouraged’: Oregonians Promote Hope, Compassion, Protections for the Unborn at the Oregon March for Life

(Oregon Right to Life) — Pro-life advocates from across Oregon joined us outside the State Capitol in Salem on Saturday to participate in the annual Oregon March for Life. The sun was out, spirits were high, and everyone was ready to make a joyful noise to celebrate life and promote protections for our state’s most vulnerable.

This year’s March – held for the first time in May to mark the approximate date that Oregon legalized abortion in 1969 – featured speeches by Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample, ORTL President Melody Durrett, OSU Pro-Life Student Alliance leader Rebecca Lang, former Senate leader Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend), New Hope Christian College VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Donald Grafton, and ORTL executive director Lois Anderson.

In their inspiring remarks, each of the speakers emphasized compassionate dialogue, grassroots action, and the need to keep moving forward in spite of the unique challenges facing pro-life advocates in Oregon.

“It may seem like we have a long road ahead of us here in Oregon, but everywhere you look you can find meaningful change happening today,” Lang said. “We must work to protect children at the level of the law through our votes and legislation, and we must also complete the work of changing our culture to value life no matter the circumstance.”

“We have to exercise our faithful citizenship,” Archbishop Sample told Marchers. “We can’t celebrate what happened with the striking down of Roe v. Wade and think that somehow we won.”

“We won the battle, but we haven’t won the war,” he said.

In his concluding prayer, Dr. Grafton asked God for guidance in broaching the topic of abortion, especially “discernment, courage, and tact in any related conversations that might save lives.”

Immediately following the speaker program, the crowd moved away from the steps of the Capitol and packed into the streets. The diverse and enthusiastic participants included parents, grandparents, women who have experienced unsupported or challenging pregnancies, pro-life politicians and candidates, and high school students, all of them united in a common desire to build a culture of life in Oregon.

Katie Heib, wife of Republican state Rep. James Hieb, told us she attended the March with her children because she and her husband believe it’s important to teach their family pro-life values in a world so dominated by pro-choice messaging. She also stressed the importance of “conversation and not being judgmental” when communicating with abortion-minded women, sharing that she has personally stopped four abortions by engaging in dialogue with mothers and urging them to choose life.

“Just listen,” she said. “Let them know there’s other choices.”

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Students from Chesterton Academy of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a liberal arts Catholic high school in Portland, also paused during the March to speak with us and share a message of hope and faith. 

One young man laid great emphasis on the simultaneous intention of the pro-life movement to both end abortion and extend forgiveness to those who have participated in it.

“God loves everybody,” another Chesterton Academy student chimed in. “Love each other.”

This year, as before every March, Oregon Right to Life displayed an animated counter on a jumbotron to demonstrate the heart-breaking number of innocent lives lost to abortion since Roe v. Wade. As the numbers added up on the screen and the crowd paused in silence, a solemn bell tolled.

Lenore Calkins, a Keizer resident and first-time Oregon March for Life participant, told us the presentation “was really touching.”

“I was crying,” she said. “I was just so sad that our nation would do something like that to babies.”

But there’s always hope.

“I always think, if we could just reach one, that is worth it all,” Lenore remarked. “Never be discouraged or dismayed.”

And hope can be found in even the most desperate of circumstances. 

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Two courageous women who founded the pro-life “Glorify Project,” Emily Anderson and Billie Torres, told us about their own difficult pregnancies and each of their decisions to choose life for their children.

Emily said she and her husband were urged to get an abortion after their 20-week ultrasound, during which they learned their baby had no amniotic fluid, kidneys, or lung function. Emily and her husband rejected the advice, and Emily gave birth to her son at 33 weeks gestation. 

The newborn lived for only about an hour outside the womb before quietly passing away. Though the experience was heart-breaking, Emily has no regrets about flatly refusing to preemptively end her son’s life.

“We just want couples to know that you can walk that pregnancy out. And there’s dignity, and there’s compassion,” she said.

Glorify Project co-founder Billie Torres recounted her trauma of becoming pregnant through rape during a house party when she was just 21. Despite the horrific experience, she knew she wouldn’t get an abortion. She considered giving her child up for adoption but ultimately chose to step out in faith and raise him herself.

Her son is now 25 years old, and Billie says he’s her “best friend.” 

“He’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “He knows the story, and he is grateful for life.”


Oregon Right to Life is deeply touched and extremely grateful for all of the peaceful pro-life advocates who attended the March for Life to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community.

Your witness, compassionate dialogue, and sincere concern for mothers and their babies are noticed and appreciated. 

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