Pro-life group marches to protest Roe v. Wade

LIHU‘E — The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, did not pass quietly on Kaua‘i, as pro-life supporters demonstrated on Kuhio Highway near Kukui Grove Center.

“This is an infamous day in our history, but we need to change the way we deal with our brothers and sisters who don’t believe in what we are doing,” said Kin Borja, president of Aloha Life Advocates in Honolulu. He was on Kaua‘i to mark the event with the coalition of Christian organizations called Kaua‘i Right to Life.

Some cars responded with honks, Borja said, and some offered undignified gestures instead.

The group stayed through rain because, they said, the 56 million aborted babies in America, and the 1.8 billion throughout the world were close to their hearts.

“We have been beating (pro-choicers) over the head for the past 40 years and I think we need to reach into their hearts and show them that we love them,” Borja added. “In spite of what they have done, which is between them and God, we are not judging, but unless we bring our families back together again Kaua‘i is going to be one place where our children are at stake.”

Rev. Joseph Grimaldi, a retired Catholic priest helping out at St. Rapheal’s, said the Christian message is to change hearts, just as the faithful reached “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. Norma Leah McCorvey, her real name, was a sexually abused child and in 1969 at age 21, sought an abortion in Texas where it was illegal at the time. In her autobiography, McCorvey said she converted to Christ in 1995 and now supports the pro-life movement.

“This is not a matter of killing nothing, because you are killing a child,” Grimaldi said. “Not everybody understands that because they say if they didn’t see it, then it is not there. That is not the answer and they need to look at the pictures the doctor can take for them.”

Abortion-rights groups observed a quieter anniversary. Nationwide, the National Organization for Women planned a candlelight vigil at the Supreme Court to commemorate the 1973 decision, which created a constitutional right to abortions in some circumstances and prevented states from banning the practice.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) issued statement Tuesday, calling Roe v. Wade a monumental decision for women. A college student at the time, she recalled that abortion was illegal in most states and Hawai‘i passed legislation on partial legalization.

Hawai‘i state law now allows an individual age 14 years or older the right of consent for family planning and reproductive health care. Anyone under 14 would need consent from a parent or guardian.

Most patients pay for abortions out-of-pocket or through private heath care. Family Planning maintains a small loan deferral fund when a patient doesn’t qualify for state Medicaid assistance.

Hirono said the battle in the 1970s was to get Congressmen to state their position on abortion publicly. As supporter of a woman’s right to choose, Hirono said the battle continues to protect a woman’s fundamental right to choose for future generations.

“Now, 40 years after the Supreme Court’s decision, some are trying to go back to the days when women were denied the right to make decisions about their own health care,” Hirono said. “From blocking access to contraception to mounting a full scale repeal of Roe v. Wade, these forces are constantly looking for ways to turn back the clock on reproductive health care rights.”

President Barack Obama issued a statement reaffirming the decision’s commitment to “reproductive freedom” and the principle that “government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care.”

The Rev. René Bisaillon, a retired Catholic priest, said Kaua‘i Right to Life — the organizers of the protest yesterday — meets with people of many faiths each Friday to demonstrate for the rights of the unborn in front of the Malama Pono Health Center in Lihu‘e.

“We started abortion in this country and it is sad that is has spread all over the world,” Bisaillon said.

The group formed 12 years ago to end abortion, and now protest the presence of Planned Parenthood of Hawai‘i, which returned to Kaua‘i in 2012 to provide confidential counseling on reproductive health care, education and advocacy.

A registered nurse practitioner and a health care assistant are available for clients on a walk-in basis. The clinic offers referrals, contraception and birth control options, pregnancy testing and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.

Gwen Caldwell of Calgary, is visiting and took time from her vacation to protest. She said that she is active in the Canadian pro-life movement.

“Our government’s health care system pays for all abortions and we are not happy with that either,” Caldwell said. “We protest there too and we pray a lot hoping to end it.”

Tootsie Sanchez of Princeville said she believed at one time that she had the right to do what she would with her own body. Today, she believes that only God can make life, and only God can take life.

“No one should ever take hope from anyone,” she said. “Hope is a gift from God.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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