Walk for Life West Coast draws tens of thousands ahead of Women's March

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Aguirre, Walk for Life West Coast

By Valerie Schmalz

the last-minute scheduling of a large Women’s March less than two hours after
the 13th annual Walk for Life West Coast, tens of thousands of pro-life
supporters filled Civic Center Plaza and walked the 1.7 miles from City Hall to
Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco Jan. 21.

“There so many people, it was
crazy,” said walk co-chair Eva Muntean, who had worked closely with police and
held conversations with the organizers of the Women’s March to ensure a smooth
transition between the two events.

“The police were out in full
force and did a great job throughout the day,” said Muntean. Despite days of
rain, including heavy rain and wind in the morning, the rain held off until the
walk’s conclusion. “I thought the weather and the Women’s March might have
reduced turnout, but that was not the case,” said Muntean.

About 50 protesters supporting
legal abortion gathered on a sidewalk adjacent to where a
group of pro-life demonstrators unaffiliated with the West Coast pro-life walk
had set up a Jumbotron with graphic images of aborted babies. A wall of
balloons from the walk organizers attempted to block the images from those
passing the spot about midway along the route. A line of police on motorcycles
and on foot formed a barrier between the Jumbotron organizers, abortion
demonstrators and the Walk for Life participants.

The Walk for Life West Coast,
founded in 2005, is a nonpartisan event held on the Saturday closest to the anniversary
of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. This year, President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration sparked a hastily organized nationwide
series of Women’s Marches the same day, with San Francisco’s march at 3 p.m.,
shortly after the pro-life walk rally concluded.

The city was one of several
venues in the U.S., including Washington, and in several other countries where
participants, mostly women, marched to promote women’s rights, immigration
reform, equal pay, health care and “reproductive rights.”

Walk for Life speaker, the Rev.
Clenard Childress, has been addressing the San Francisco pro-life walk crowds
since 2005. The pastor, who is founder of Black Genocide, said he is hopeful
for the future.

Looking out at a crowd holding
signs that declared “We are the pro-life generation” and “Women deserve better
than abortion,” the New Jersey Baptist pastor said, “Your light must shine

“This is your time. This is your
season,” Rev. Childress said.

Rev. Childress referred tacitly
to Trump’s pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, defund Planned
Parenthood, and block foreign aid to organizations that provide abortion. “It
is a season where God is moving on behalf of those who have labored for so
long,” the pastor said. Rev. Childress urged prayers for Democratic and Republican
leaders in Washington.

The Women’s March in San
Francisco took the same route as the Walk for Life but started at 3 p.m. It
also drew tens of thousands of supporters, many carrying coat-hanger signs
signaling support for abortion. In San Francisco, organizers said they welcomed
pro-life supporters but the national Women’s March on Washington expelled a
pro-life group and all the marches were heavily promoted and supported by
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other groups that support
legal abortion.

Speakers at the Walk for Life
were a cross section of pro-life advocates. Reggie Littlejohn, founder of
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers highlighted the abuse of women by China’s
forced abortion policy where as many as 23 million abortions a year are
performed. Littlejohn introduced the two girls, Anni and Ruli, she and her
husband are raising in the U.S. because of persecution in China due to the
activism of their father, Zhang Lin, who was just recently released from prison.

Melissa Ohden who survived a
saline abortion spoke of her journey and urged Christian love toward women who
abort, those who promote abortion, and those in the abortion industry. Pam
Tebow, mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, spoke of carrying her son to
term despite doctors’ advice she abort.

The West Coast walk opened with
an invocation by Bishop Steven J. Lopes, who heads the Personal Ordinariate of
the Chair of St. Peter based in Houston, and a message of support from the
papal nuncio conveying Pope Francis’ support was read by San Francisco
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

Archbishop Cordileone presented
the West Coast walk’s St. Gianna Molla Award to Dr. George Delgado of Culture
of Life Family Services in San Diego for his pioneering work on a procedure to
reverse the abortion pill.

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Schmalz is assistant editor at
Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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