Abortion still splits C.O., 40 years after big ruling

Rallies, protests nationwide mark Roe v. Wade anniversary

Bend organizations react to Roe v. Wade anniversary

BEND, Ore. - It's an issue of passion, and of morals -- and Tuesday, 40 years after the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe vs. Wade, abortion remains a divisive issue that still takes people to the streets.

Thousands around the nation gathered today to hold rallies and demonstrations to protest or show support for abortion. 

Still, a recent poll by the Pew Center found a growing number of Americans don't think the issue of abortion is as controversial as it once was.

In 2006, 28 percent of Americans polled said abortion was a critical issue; now that number is 18 percent.

But Eileen Falhgren, the director of Bend's branch of the Pregnancy Resource Centers, doesn't buy it.

She said it's still an issue dividing our nation, and a topic she thinks is decades overdo for honest and civil conversation.

"When abortion first became lega,l the pro-life movement wasn't very kind, they were very condemning," Falhgren said.

Falhgren said she and her center are pro-life, but she doesn't support the often graphic and angry protests against abortion.

"When I would see someone with the sign 'murders' or something like that, it made me freeze inside," she said.

Frozen from her choices more than 30 years ago.

"I, myself, had two abortions as a teenager," Falhgren said.  "At first, I was relieved -- it was a good choice, I felt good about it. But as the years went on, I thought, 'Wow, I'd have grandchildren by now.'"

Looking back now, Fahlgren said it was a wrong choice -- and wishes she wouldn't have had the option.

"I think the message was that this is legal, so it's a good choice for me -- I mean, I really felt like that was the message."

But Bend's Planned Parenthood Health Center Manager Tricia Stumps spent Tuesday marking 40 years of legal abortions.

Stumps attended a Portland luncheon where she listened to Dr. Sarah Weddington speak -- the lawyer who argued for abortion rights in Roe vs. Wade.

"It's critical on so many levels to continue to celebrate and talk about the importance of both Sarah's fight, and that we need to continue everyday on behalf of women's rights," Stumps said.

It's an issue tied deep into emotion, with staunch advocates on both sides -- but there are areas of agreement.

Both Stumps and Fahlgren agree it's time for more compassion, education and prevention.

"Prevention is what Americans want in the first place," Stumps said.  "And our goal is to prevent unintended pregnancies, and I think that's something we can all agree on."

"I've been in their place, I know what it feels like," Fahlgren said.  "It's a very hard place to be, and we need to have compassion for the women and men that find themselves in that place."

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