SALEM — Archbishop Alexander Sample said Jan. 23 that Oregon’s pro-life advocates will be relentless and even extreme in peaceful efforts to secure the lives of the unborn.

Speaking during an online forum in lieu of an annual rally and march organized by Oregon Right to Life, the archbishop insisted that abortion remain the preeminent — but not the only — issue in the nation and the culture. Medical care, schools, racism and other matters of injustice require attention, too, he said.

“But we can’t talk about having adequate health care for those not allowed to be born,” Archbishop Sample said. “We can’t speak about a right to education for children who never see the light of day.”

The coronavirus and political tensions led to an online format for the annual rally, which in recent years has included a gathering on the steps of the Oregon Capitol and a march in Salem.

There have been about 62 million legal abortions in the United States since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on Jan. 22, 1973.

Archbishop Sample quoted St. Teresa of Kolkata, who in 1994 told Americans that Roe v. Wade had “deformed a great nation,” pitting mothers against children and women against men. The greatest of gifts, a child, is now viewed by some as an intruder or competitor, Mother Teresa said.

The archbishop lamented that now, 27 years after St. Teresa spoke, the country’s new political leaders want to advance and codify abortion rights. Those who favor legal abortion have called the pro-life movement “relentless and extreme,” the archbishop said.

He has decided to embrace the insult, with the caveat that advocacy always is nonviolent.

“We are ready to do our part in ending abortion,” he prayed. “Today, we commit ourselves never to be silent, never to be passive, never to be forgetful of the unborn. We commit ourselves to be active in the pro-life movement and never to stop defending life until all our brothers and sisters are protected and our nation again becomes a nation with liberty and justice not just for some but for all.”

Other speakers noted a steady increase of pro-life sentiment.

Melody Durrett, president of the board for Oregon Right to Life, said the pandemic offers pro-lifers a chance to speak intimately to those in small bubbles about their views, which are backed by scientists who say a unique genetic code emerges just after fertilization.

Colm Willis, a Marion County commissioner and a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Stayton, said the pro-life movement is stronger than ever. Leaders in his county are pro-life and the Oregon Legislature gained two pro-life lawmakers this fall.

Samantha Williams told listeners that when she was pregnant, medical workers offered abortion as an option when irregularities appeared in ultrasound images. She had her son anyway; he was born with no genetic problems. “God knows what he is doing,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Portland led local online prayers as part of 9 Days for Life, a nationwide novena for the unborn.