At least 35,000 pro-lifers marched along San Francisco’s waterfront in the 6th annual Walk for Life West Coast on Saturday, January 23
Frank Lee, coordinator of Asian Americans Pro-Life, led the rally in a prayer at the start, saying: "Every life is precious and should be cherished. We have a tough battle in front of us, but we shall overcome when we combine our efforts to make it a perfect whole!"
Started by a group of San Franciscans in 2005, the Walk for Life West Coast aims to affirm the right to life from conception to natural death and particularly to change hearts hurt by the violence of abortion.
Walk for Life co-founder Dolores Meehan said about this year’s event, that "the tenacity of pro-lifers, showing up in their tens of thousands, despite a downpour, is a testimony to their commitment!"
The Walk for Life West Coast’s motto is “Abortion Hurts Women.”
"Abortion is wicked and hurts children, women and men. Our speakers this year directly address the huge financial and political clout of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider and recipient of $350 million in tax dollars annually," said Walk for Life West Coast co-chair Eva Muntean.
Speakers at Saturday’s event included former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson and UCLA student activist Lila Rose, who were joined by David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life.
Johnson, who worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years, walked away from her job as a Planned Parenthood facility director in October after the abortion doctor asked her to hold the ultrasound probe during a procedure. As she did so, she witnessed the baby die at the hands of the abortionist, a jarring experience that drove her towards the pro-life position. Johnson subsequently joined 40 Days for Life, the international prayer and fasting campaign outside abortion clinics.
Johnson said, "If you are here, you are an activist. We can no longer just say the words but must put our words into action."
Lila Rose is a senior at UCLA and president of Live Action, a student led pro-life investigative journalism group that has found evidence of racism and sexual abuse cover-ups by Planned Parenthood.
Rose told the crowds: "The fact that we have allowed abortion in this great nation, the killing of the most defenseless and weak among us has resulted in the greatest human rights abuse I believe our nation has ever seen. It is up to us to stand, raise our voices, and protect the smallest."
The Walk also presented the St. Gianna Molla Award to 40 Days for Life’s David Bereit.
Irene Beltran and Georgette Forney of Silent No More Awareness Campaign held a gathering at Marina Green, where the Walk concluded. Members of Silent No more offered their testimonies about how they regretted their abortions, and the devastation that having an abortion had wrought on their lives.
A press release from Walk for Life West Coast notes that eight Catholic Bishops marched alongside students from San Francisco high schools and from Stanford, UC-Berkeley, St. Mary’s of Moraga, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and Wyoming Catholic College.
One hundred and twenty Catholic seminarians, including Tom Martin, who worked for former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown before entering the seminary, also participated in the march, carrying large banners proclaiming the sanctity of life.
Martin said, "It’s a great opportunity for the people of God to see that the seminarians are joining with them not only in praying for life, but also taking a stand."
Photos of the 2010 Walk for Life West Coast are available here .