Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed LangloisPro-life marchers move onto Broadway Sunday afternoon. 

                                                                            Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Pro-life marchers move onto Broadway Sunday afternoon. 


Oregon's pro-life leaders claimed momentum Sunday afternoon, citing statistics showing that support for abortion continues to wane. 

"We are changing hearts and this nation is changing in its respect for the dignity of the unborn child," Archbishop Alexander Sample told 2,000 pro-life demonstrators filling Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. "We must not stop this fight. We are winning this battle because God is on our side."

The annual rally, sponsored by Oregon Right to Life, included prayer, music, speeches and a march up Southwest Broadway Avenue. 

"Abortion in Oregon is at an all-time low," said Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life. There were about 9,000 abortions in the state in 2012, down from more than 14,000 annually in the late 1990s.

A Gallup poll in 1995 showed pro-life Americans outnumbered by 23 percentage points. Now, they are in the majority by about 10 percentage points. The new poll said pro-life conviction has increased most among those 35 and younger. Many attribute the shift to science and technology, which has favored the notion that individuality and human traits emerge early. 

"Our generation is ending abortion," said Rebekah Barnes, who heads Students for Life in Oregon. With rally-goers cheering, Barnes said six new pro-life groups have emerged in the last year on Oregon campuses. Student leaders from around the state made brief remarks.  

Three sisters from Vancouver, Wash. stood near the back of the rally, holding signs saying "Thanks, Mom 4 Letting Me Live," and "If it's not a baby, UR not pregnant."

"I hope young women see this rally and see that we are one their side," said Deanna Naumov, the eldest sister. All three Naumovs — who range from 14 to 24 — say that most people their know in their age group are pro-life. 

Pro-choice zeal also seems to be shrinking among lawmakers. In the most recent Oregon Legislature, Oregon Right to Life was able to thwart all five proposed pro-choice bills. Planned Parenthood fired its lobbyist.  

Recording of tolling bells rang out over the square in memory of the 56 million unborn children who have died by abortion. 

"I'm here with my children to bear witness to what we are doing to our future, and the missed opportunity," said Dan O'Hearn, a member of Our Lady of the Lake Parish who is new to pro-life activism. "I am here to support the dignity of life and to battle despair, the despair of the culture of death," said Charles Oppenheimer, also from Our Lady of the Lake. In front of the two men stood clergy from the parish. 

Archbishop Sample, speaking for the first time at an Oregon Right to Life Rally, received an enthusiastic ovation when introduced as a "hero" for the unborn.  

"We human beings have decided who matters and who doesn't matter, who has dignity and who does not have dignity, whose life is worthy of preservation and whose life is disposable," the archbishop said. "This is fundamentally wrong. We do not impart to the unborn their worth and dignity and right to life. That right, that worth, that dignity come from our Creator God."

The night before, Archbishop had celebrated a Mass honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King. At Sunday's rally, he said King's dream of respect for human dignity is not being realized so long as children in the womb are being killed. 

He urged the crowd to remember pregnant women in their prayers and good works. 

"They need to know we love them," he said.