Pro-life rally held at Legislative Hall

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Participants stand on the east side steps of Legislative Hall Wednesday afternoon during the rally against legalized abortion. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — More than 50 people, unburdened by the below-freezing temperatures, gathered outside Legislative Hall for a pro-life rally Wednesday, two days before the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.

Speakers denounced what they believe is the taking of innocent lives and protested Planned Parenthood.

About 20 people held signs comparing abortion to murder, urging the government to defund Planned Parenthood. They referenced videos released last year that allegedly showed the attempted sale of fetal tissue.

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Anti-abortion activists hold signs during Wednesday’s pro-life rally at Legislative Hall.

“These are efforts to help destroy life,” said Donna Latteri, a board member of Delaware Right to Life.

Several statements drew audible reactions from the audience, who gasped when speakers mentioned “quotas” for abortions and cheered when told of successful defunding efforts in some states.

Reading a portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from the Birmingham, Alabama, jail, Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Laurel, said citizens have a responsibility to oppose unjust laws. Characterizing abortion as incompatible with God’s laws, he urged the attendees to fight for pro-life beliefs.

In Delaware, abortions are performed by Planned Parenthood, Premier and an ambulatory center/hospital. The providers are regulated by the Division of Public Health and the Division of Professional Regulation.

Delaware requires all abortions to take place in the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. The recipient must have parental agreement or a judicial order if she is less than 16 years of age.

In the wake of the controversial video release, General Assembly Republicans sent a letter in August to top state health officials questioning if Planned Parenthood, which is receiving $215,825 from Delaware in the current fiscal year, sold any fetal tissue. Dr. Karyl Rattay, head of the Division of Public Health, wrote in response there is no tissue donation program and the state had no cause to investigate.

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Sen. David Lawson (R-Marydel) speaks on the steps of Legislative Hall during the rally.

On Wednesday some alleged existing abortion safeguards were not being followed, a claim that contradicted by Dr. Rattay’s August letter.

Bess McAneny, a board member of Delaware Right to Life, said those who support of abortion are anti-women.

Several lawmakers, all Republicans, were present for the gathering.

Ms. Latteri pledged to continue fighting until Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed access to abortions nationwide, is overturned.

The national March for Life in Washington, D.C., will be held Friday. Ms. Latteri said the Delaware protest was organized two days earlier to notify people who might want to travel to the nation’s capital to promote the cause. Wednesday’s event saw double the turnout from 2015, she said.

Afterward, some attendees moved inside Legislative Hall to lobby lawmakers.

Maria Poptanich, who has been taking part in anti-abortion events for more than two decades, said she believes the pro-life movement is growing.

“I used to be for abortion but then it dawned on me, ‘No, this is a baby, this is human life,’ and I can’t understand why people can’t understand that,” she said.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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