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March for Life, counter-protest held on Roe anniversary weekend

Anti-abortion groups marched to the Idaho State Capitol Saturday afternoon. A smaller pro-abortion rights group counter-protested across the street.

BOISE, Idaho — Jan. 22 marks 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that struck down states' prohibitions against abortion.

Anti-abortion groups marched on Saturday from Julia Davis Park to the steps of the Idaho State Capitol for the March for Life. The event has been held every year on the anniversary weekend of the Roe v. Wade decision.  

"We come out and march to commemorate the decision, and the 63 million lives that have been lost to abortion because of Roe," Right to Life of Idaho President Jason Herring said. "This year was a little different, because this year, we're coming out to celebrate the overturning of Roe and the Dobbs decision last June, but also to pledge to continue our efforts to respect and protect life as this fight is now going to state courts and legislatures, and even ballot initiatives."

This year held the first March for Life event since the Supreme Court voted to overrule Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson (Mississippi) Women's Health, paving the way for many states - including Idaho - to implement criminal penalties for terminating a pregnancy. 

Herring said this year's march had one of the largest turnouts organizers have seen. 

"Ultimately this is a battle for hearts and minds, and it's educating people on the humanity of the life in the womb, and the science of fetology with ultrasounds and babies undergoing surgery premature, younger and younger," Herring said. "All of that has helped facilitate the swing of the pendulum in public opinion, and why I think we're more of a pro-life nation today than we were in our parents' and grandparents' generation."

Pro-abortion rights group Idaho Abortion Rights Collective held a counter-protest to the march Saturday afternoon. It started 15 minutes after March for Life. Protestors marched from Cherie Buckner-Webb Park toward the capitol.

The two groups were separated by the street, fencing and police officers. 

"We believe abortion is healthcare," Tiffani Deems, one of the counter-protestors said. "We don't believe in the laws that Idaho is making for our bodies. So, every time they do this, we're out here protesting against it. There are a lot of really harmful laws already on the books, and people need to know there's a lot of harmful laws trying to pass in the statehouse right now. The GOP is going to come for IVF treatment. They're going to come for your IUDs. Abortion is already illegal here right now. Everybody needs to be aware of that."

There's no official count as to how many people showed up for both events. It appears hundreds showed up for the March for Life, while several dozen counter-protested. 

"We know that our opponents aren't going to rest. They're going to continue to work to try to bring abortion on-demand back to Idaho," Herring said. "So, we have to be vigilant. We can celebrate and be thankful, but there's a lot of work left to be done."

Idaho bans abortion with some exceptions: when the pregnancy threatens the life of a mother, or in cases of rape or incest proven by law. Earlier this month the Idaho Supreme Court upheld these laws, ruling abortion is not a right afforded in the state constitution. 

"We're here, I'm here with lawmakers watching them every single weekday," Deems said. "We're going to be there to testify. Everybody needs to show up to testify against these harmful bills every time they're available."

Other March for Life events were scheduled throughout the country on Saturday. 

"This is a great social justice issue. I think it's the quintessential social justice issue of our day," Herring said. "So, to get to march, for me, that's my favorite part. We're making history."

Boise Police said two arrests were made after the events disbanded. Both people arrested were counter-protestors, and were arrested for resisting or obstructing officers. 

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