A group of protesters marched in downtown Aberdeen on Saturday in protest of House Bills 1002 and 1003. The group, organized by an organization called Democracy Rising, added an impromptu trip up Broadway Hill to the home of one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen.
The two bills address abortion. One, HB 1002, stops health care coverage of elective abortions, those not deemed “medically necessary,” and would also bar the state from providing contracts, grants or funding to any organizations that provide such abortions. The other, HB 1003, would require parents or guardians of minors seeking an abortion be notified or obtain a court order to allow the procedure to proceed without parental consent.
Walsh said last week that the bill doesn’t restrict access to abortions, but in the case of state workers, it would change who pays for what he called elective abortions.
Marchers chanted “pro-life means pro-choice” and carried signs with such slogans as “Let’s talk about the elephant in the womb” with a drawing of a women’s torso, and “Not ever,” a sign fashioned with a metal hanger decorated with pink streamers. Passing drivers honked their horns in support of the marchers.
About 70 people participated in the march of several blocks that started at the corner of Broadway and First streets and snaked along Wishkah, F and Heron streets before returning to Broadway and First. There it was announced the marchers would make their way about 10 blocks up Broadway Hill to tell Walsh how they felt about the two bills. This number of participants who continued the demonstrating was smaller but still sizable.
Through a bullhorn from the sidewalk in front of the residence, some of the protesters shared their concerns about the bills restricting access to abortions. Both bills have been sent to the Health Care and Wellness subcommittee.
Three counter-demonstrators stood nearby on Broadway and also made their way up the hill go Walsh’s residence. They perched themselves on the front porch of the home.
There were no arrests but the counter-demonstrators were questioned by a police officer after the larger group of protesters left. Walsh said Monday no one was at home during the protest and that he didn’t want to press any trespassing charges.
While he’s one of the co-sponsors of the bill, abortion isn’t a lead issue for him as a legislator, he stressed.