The 8th annual Walk for Life West Coast drew an estimated 40,000 to 50,0000 marchers, forming a throng that stretched from City Hall along a two-mile parade route down San Franciscos busy Market Street to The Embarcadero. The marchers prayed, sang hymns, and chanted pro-life slogans as they walked through one of Americas most liberal bastions. As in years past, they were met at various points along the way by pro-abortion hecklers who yelled profanity and who sometimes attempted to initiate confrontations with the marchers. However, the pro-abortion forces have dwindled dramatically over the years both in size and passion. According to news reports, a pro-choice rally in San Francisco on the same day attracted only about 200 supporters.
Nevertheless, the powers that be in San Francisco city politics are clearly in the pro-abortion camp, as was made manifestly plain to pro-life marchers, who were greeted by banners fluttering from street lamps that declared: U.S. Out of My Uterus, Reproductive Rights are Human Rights, San Francisco is Pro-Choice, and Legal Abortion is a Human Right United Nations.
The blatantly political banners (which can be seen here) have been challenged as illegal by the Life Legal Defense Foundation. According to the foundations lawyers, the posting of the banners by the city is in violation of San Franciscos own city code.
The San Francisco and Washington, D.C. events are the two major bookends to a large number of pro-life events that take place each year in cities and towns all across the nation. A calendar listing many of this year's events can be seen here.
Media Double Standard re: Occupy Wall Street v. Pro-Life
Pro-lifers have come to expect that the mainstream media, which is dominated by reporters, editors, and executives with a pronounced pro-abortion bias, will largely ignore the annual right-to-life rallies, no matter how massive they might be, while lavishing attention on every leftist cause. Over the past several months, for instance, the major media have showered an avalanche of publicity on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Although many of the OWS demonstrators complain that much of that coverage has been negative, there is little question that a great deal of the coverage has been sympathetic. And there is no question that the oversized coverage of the OWS events is greatly disproportionate to the actual size of the OWS events. In terms of actual numbers and composition, the participants in the pro-life rallies can more legitimately lay claim to representing the 99 percent of America that OWS regularly claims to represent. The Walk for Life West Coast and the D.C. March for Life are especially noted for displaying the ecumenical, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, blue collar/white collar, urban/rural, male/female diversity of the pro-life movement that is a cross-section of America. These and many other pro-life events are also notable for attracting tens of thousands of high school and college students, and other young people.
At least one liberal San Francisco Bay area alternate media website honestly reported what many others no doubt felt. In a January 22 article entitled Anti-Abortion Rally Does What Occupy Couldnt, SFBay.ca reporter Jesse Garnier writes:
Well, this is awkward.
One day after a rain-soaked, day-long Occupy extravaganza failed to draw more than a couple thousand protesters, Walk for Life goes and gathers up 40,000 pro-life supporters that march and shut down Market Street.
Garnier then notes that a pro-choice rally earlier at Justin Herman Plaza could muster only a couple of hundred backers, and had largely fizzled by the time the pro-lifers came marching down Market.
Participants at the Walk for Life West Coast heard from a number of speakers, including Dr. Vansen Wong, an obstetrician-gynecologist who performed abortions for seven years, but now is a pro-life advocate. What changed is that God got a hold of meI now regret the loss of every single precious life, he told the marchers. I believe that abortion has erased the value of human life, said Dr. Wong. We have created language, philosophy and institutions that legitimize ending the lives of unborn babies without reflection on what we are doing Where will the killing stop? We have an assault on babies with birth defects, whose lives are not valued and [are] ended indiscriminately. Will this affect people who have been born who have any type of condition considered a disability? Will the next group targeted be those at the other end of the spectrum of life, those with any form of dementia? When we do not value life in the womb, it is logical to anticipate that we, as a society, will not value life outside of the womb.
Dr. Wong was followed by Jacquie Stalnaker, spokesperson and national coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. More than 20 years ago, Stalnaker, a former Miss West Virginia, was forced by her boyfriend at gunpoint to undergo an abortion. I want to deliver the message of hope and healing to those who grieve the loss of parenthood, to be a voice for the voiceless, said Stalnaker. So many believe the pro-life movement is only about saving babies ... women and men of lost parenthood often walk around for 20 years wounded from the trauma of abortion they need to know there is hope, forgiveness and healing!
The Walk for Life West Coast was attended by 12 U.S. Catholic bishops and many other Catholic and Protestant clergy. Fr. Aris P. Metrakos, proto-presbyter of San Franciscos Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, delivered the invocation. Fr. Metrakos argued that the destruction caused by the legalization of abortion has now penetrated every part of society: "Abortion-on-demand has shredded the moral fabric of our society by encouraging promiscuity, obliterating the notion of personal responsibility and accountability, and making selfishness a legal right. It tears asunder literally the bodies of the unborn and metaphorically the hearts and souls of the women who submit themselves to this heinous barbarism. It makes a mockery of men's honor and the medical profession's nobility, while exposing the duplicity and opportunism of the majority of the political class."