Shannen Greene holds a sign at the Alaska State Capitol during Monday’s anti-abortion rally held by Alaskans for Life Inc. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Shannen Greene holds a sign at the Alaska State Capitol during Monday’s anti-abortion rally held by Alaskans for Life Inc. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Abortion protesters gather at state Capitol

Rally comes after anniversary of now-overturned Roe v. Wade.

This article has been updated to correct that Pastor Eugene Williams is actually the pastor for First Baptist Church and not Douglas Island Bible Church as reported

One day after the 50th anniversary of the now-overturned Roe v. Wade decision, an anti-abortion rally was held on the Alaska State Capitol’s steps.

The rally, organized by the nonprofit Alaskans for Life Inc., was held during the noon hour, and it attracted both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights protesters as well as several state lawmakers.

“In 1984 President Regan declared Jan. 22, which is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Sanctity of Life Day,” said executive director for Juneau Pregnancy Resource Center Barbara Fiscus, during a speech at the rally. “For the first time, rather than them celebrating the anniversary, we get to celebrate the overturning of that ruling. Juneau Pregnancy Resource Center is a pro life organization, it seems like an obvious thing to say, but what I really mean by that is not just pro-unborn baby, but we really are pro-life, we’re pro-moms, we’re pro-dads, we’re even pro-the people who chose not to keep their babies.”

In Alaska, abortion access is protected by the state constitution. However, legislation or a constitutional amendment restricting access remain goals for many conservative policymakers.

Opening remarks were provided by the President of Alaskans for Life Inc. Ken Mattson followed by an opening prayer from Mike Monagle, deacon for the Juneau Catholic Cathedral. Villame K. performed an opening and closing song for the rally, and Eugene Williams, pastor for First Baptist Church, led the crowd in a closing prayer. Former state Rep.Christoper Kurka, who last year ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign, was featured as the rally’s keynote speaker.

“This month commemorates the sanctity of human life month, also this would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade,” said Kurka. “But it’s also the beginning of the legislative session, the first legislative session following Roe vs. Wade decision and it’s kind of a mixed bag for states like Alaska because abortion was legalized, not by the court but by the Legislature. While our courts have been very pro-abortion in Alaska, they’re still standing on a foundation or a platform of Roe vs. Wade that was just demolished, so they have no foundation anymore. It is the duty of the Legislature to protect life; Article 1, Section 1 in the state constitution says in the opening words that, ‘this constitution is dedicated to the principle that all persons have a natural right to life.’”

Not everyone in attendance was there in support of the anti-abortion movement.

At one point during the rally, Juneau resident Donna Belle yelled out into the crowd during Kurka’s speech.

“It’s not murder, it’s health care,” Belle said. “If we don’t have a right to choose then what are we, incubators for you guys? I’m sorry, that’s not OK.”

Others made their opposition to the rally known in less audible ways, like Paul Desloover who held a sign. Desloover said he attended to express his opinion regarding what he feels is a lack of support for social services.

“Generally, I feel that a lot of the people involved with the so-called pro-life movement are also opposed to paying taxes for social services that assist families and children and that’s the main reason that I’m here today, to make them think about that fact,” Desloover said. “I think that’s very important and yet I suspect if you asked a lot of these people, you’d find out that what I just said is accurate.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

Paul Desloover displays a sign in opposition to Monday’s anti-abortion rally at the State Capitol. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Paul Desloover displays a sign in opposition to Monday’s anti-abortion rally at the State Capitol. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

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