Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Massive West Coast March Energizes Right-to-Life

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Tens of thousands of pro-life supporters from the San Francisco Bay area and throughout California converged on San Francisco for the fifth annual Walk for Life, West Coast, on Saturday, January 24. In spite of threats of rain and the even more threatening prospect of violent counter-demonstrators, the peaceful march through San Francisco's famous Fisherman's Wharf district continued its trend of dramatically increasing in size each year.

The West Coast event was a follow-up to the even larger 35th annual March for Life that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 22, the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for legalized abortion. The marchers in the nation's capital, estimated at more than 200,000, rallied to stir opposition to Roe v. Wade and the effort to expand abortion through the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which President Obama has promised to sign.

The West Coast event, which attracted an estimated 25,000-30,000 marchers last year, was significantly larger this year, reaching, in the estimation of this reporter, an estimated 40,000-50,000 participants that stretched out for over 1 mile along the 2-mile route.

The Walk for Life began at Justin Herman Plaza, where an overflow crowd of tens of thousands heard prayers and calls to action from an ecumenical gathering of clergy and national pro-life leaders.

Among those in attendance were California Catholic Bishops William Justice of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone of San Diego, Jaime Soto of Sacramento, and Rutilio Del Riego of San Bernardino; Rev. Walter B. Hoye II of the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of Berkeley, California, and president and founder of the Issues4Life Foundation; Rev. Clenard Childress, pastor of New Cavalry Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J.; Frank Lee of Asian Americans Against Abortion; Mother Agnes Mary of Sisters for Life; Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life; and Karen Shablin of Feminists for Life.

The most angry challenges to President Obama came from African American speakers Clenard Childress and Karen Shablin, who castigated the president for supporting abortion policies that amount to genocide against black Americans.

"President Obama puts a face on black genocide," declared Rev. Clenard Childress, a Baptist pastor and founder of BlackGenocide.org. "President Obama is the fulfillment of what the abortion industry always wanted and that was a black face to validate abortion." Referring to President Obama's executive order the previous day to reverse the ban on federal funding for international groups that provide abortions, Rev. Childress said: "He's released hard-earned tax dollars to kill babies."

Rev. Childress hammered on the black-genocide theme:

Between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 Blacks were lynched in the U.S. That number is surpassed in less than three days by abortion.
1,452 African-American children are killed each day by the heinous act of abortion.

Three out of five pregnant African-American women will abort their child.

Since 1973, there have been over 13 million Black children killed and their precious mothers victimized by the U.S. abortion industry.

With 1/3 of all abortions performed on Black women, the abortion industry has received over 4,000,000,000 (yes, billion) dollars from the Black community.

According to Rev. Childress, "Abortion is the greatest deception that has plagued the black church since Lucifer himself."

"Women deserve better, men deserve better — we all deserve better than abortion," Feminist for Life speaker Karen Shablin, an African American, told the gathering. Shablin, a former member of the National Abortion Rights Action League who had an abortion in her 20s, noted that 37 percent of abortions are done on black women — who make up just 13 percent of the population.

The inspired right-to-life marchers, a broad cross-section of ethnic diversity and people of all ages — from infants in strollers to octogenarians — surged out of the plaza onto the Embarcadero, marching 10-15 abreast through San Francisco's most well-known tourist area. As in previous years, a raucus and militant group of 200-300 adversaries with bullhorns traveled alongside the leading edge of the march, heckling and cursing the pro-life marchers. Many of the pro-abortion hecklers were garishly attired and carried placards proclaiming themselves to be atheists, socialists, anarchists, "queers," lesbians, transsexuals, bi-sexuals, witches, Satanists, etc.

As in previous years, the pro-life marchers returned blessing for cursing and refused to get involved in shouting matches with their antagonists. They prayed and sang hymns and spiritual songs to drown out the profanity and taunts. A cordon of San Francisco police officers on foot, bicycles, motorcycles, and squad cars kept the hecklers at bay, so that they would not repeat their violent confrontation of 2005, when they illegally blocked the parade route and battled with the police, forcing a number of arrests.

The Walk for Life concluded without incident this year at the Marina Greens Park near the Golden Gate Bridge, where a large Info Faire of exhibits, musicians and refreshments greeted the multitude. Fr. Federico Masutti, a priest from Saint Stephen the First Martyr Parish in Sacramento, expressed the views of many. "This is a very important event" for the Christian faithful to defend publicly the unborn and to pray and work for an end to the abortion holocaust, he told The New American. "It is exciting and gratifying to see so many more people here than even last year." Fr. Masutti, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and a recent arrival from Argentina. Last year was his first time attending the Walk for Life. This year, like last year, he accompanied a caravan of buses bringing students and families to San Francisco from St. Stephen's and the greater Sacramento area.

Photo: William F. Jasper

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