Human Life of Enumclaw is looking to return to the Plateau.
The grassroots organization, which is a chapter of the Human Life of Washington group, got its start in the 1980s; it hosted booths at the King County Fair, participated in Enumclaw’s various parades, and even pushed into local schools to discuss pro-life issues.
It fizzled out sometime in the late ‘90s or the early 2000s, but Mark Akers — who was a member of the first group — hopes to revitalize it.
His inspiration came from the January 2019 March for Life rally in Olympia. While he was there, he decided to drop by Sen. Phil Fortunato’s office, and happened to run into Esther Hurni-Ripplinger, the current executive director of Human Life of Washington.
“It seemed almost providential,” Akers said.
Since then, the group has been coming together, albeit slowly. Their first big project was erecting a pro-life display outside the Enumclaw Church of the Nazarene, right on state Route 410, for commuters coming to or leaving town.
However, that shouldn’t give folks the impression that Human Life of Enumclaw or its parent organization is religiously focused.
“We’re inclusive,” Akers said in a recent interview, adding that although he’s Christian, the group is non-sectarian. “We don’t ask for anybody’s sexual preference or political affiliation — if you’re for promoting human life, they’re in.”
He added that promoting human life extends past being against abortion.
“We’re against euthanasia, we’re against infanticide, we’re against abortion. We’re against the morning after pill if it kills a child,” Akers said. “Once conception occurs, we believe a brand-new human being is born, figuratively speaking, and we’re out to protect that person” from birth to natural death.
Akers is aware that groups like his are often criticized as “anti-woman”, especially for their firm stance against abortion, but he said this is not the case.
“That could not be further from the truth,” he said. “Our group realizes that there are untold numbers of women that suffer from guilt and regret for years after having chosen to abort a pregnancy. So we are trying not only to save the life of a child but help women avoid the remorse such a decision can cause.”
He also made it clear that women who have already had an abortion should feel welcome to join.
“I know what it’s like to have an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not fun,” he said, adding that his family never considered abortion as a personal option. “What we want to do is find better alternatives — that’s all.”
Until recently, Human Life of Enumclaw has been meeting at the library, but attendance has lagged, so the group is currently discussing when they should meet, and how often. Akers in particular wants future meetings to be accessible for youths and young adults who will bring energy and new ideas to the group and shape its future.
“Young people, that’s the future of any movement,” he said.
If you want to join the group, you can call Akers on his cell at 253-508-2559.
According to Human Life of Washington, there have been approximately 60 million abortions between the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case in 1973 and 2017, although the data they pulled from — The Guttmacher Institute, an international pro-choice organization — is incomplete, and the number could be between 50 and 60 million.
Guttmacher researchers note that there was very little abortion data before 1973, though according to a 2003 article, the number of illegal abortions in 1955 were anywhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million, and a 1967 survey in North Carolina showed there were 800,000 total abortions (most of them illegal) that year.
After Roe v. Wade was decided, the number of abortions jumped from around 750,000 in 1973 to about 1.6 million in 1988. However, the number of abortions since have declined to a little more than 860,000 in 2017; Guttmacher researchers add that the current abortion ratio, or the number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, is actually lower than what it was in 1973, rising from 16.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1973 to 29.3 in 1981 before steadily declining to the current ratio of 13.5.
Human Life of Washington also claims that 93 percent of all U.S. abortions happen “for social reasons, not the mother’s health, rape or incest,” drawing that statistic from a 2005 Guttmacher study.
In that study, out of 957 women who were surveyed in 2004, 25 percent said the most important reason to have an abortion was due to bad timing, or they weren’t ready for a child, and another 23 percent said the most important reason was that they couldn’t afford a new baby.
Only 4 percent of women said physical health problems of the mother was the most important reason to get an abortion, and another 3 percent received one because of possible problems with the fetus’ health.
Less than half a percent of women reported that rape was the biggest reason for an abortion.
However, Guttmacher researchers add that most women get an abortion due to multiple factors.
“The in-depth interviews revealed that these reasons are multiple dimensions of complicated life situations. For example, financial difficulties are often the result of lack of support from one’s partner, or lack of a partner altogether; and the financial and emotional responsibility to provide for existing children without adequate resources makes it too hard for some women to care for another child,” the study reads.