Meaghen Hale

Record-breaking 50,000 attend Walk for Life West Coast

Meaghen Hale
By Meaghen Hale

Updated: 01/24/2011, at 12:45 pm.

January 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tens of thousands of pro-life activists filled Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s downtown this weekend, and then walked 2.5 miles along the waterfront in a record-breaking turnout for the 7th Annual Walk for Life West Coast.

The day began at 11 am., as Walk for Life West Coast founder Eva Muntean welcomed the crowd as it gathered in the plaza: “When I look out at you, all I see is hope.”

Hope was the prevailing theme of the Walk: hope for change. “We are here to break the chains of the culture of death,” said Dolores Meehan, also a founder of the walk.

Organizers estimated that at least 40,000 people participated in the event, which was held on the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. One local TV station, KTVU, reported the crowd at an estimated 50,000, and said that police confirmed to them that it was the largest Walk for Life yet.

Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who walked away from her job at a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic on October 6, 2009, told the crowd, “For eight years January 22 was a special day for me, because it was a day that I honored choice.”

But, she added, “Today on January 22nd, I do not honor choice any more, I mourn choice.”

In a spirited address, Johnson, who had quit her job after assisting in an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old unborn child,  said that change relies on the willingness of young people to fight for life. “You are the movement. You are the new generation of the pro-life movement and I can tell you Planned Parenthood is shaking in their boots.”

“Get out there and do something about it!”

Johnson urged people to “get uncomfortable for life.”

“For so many years we have been comfortable,” she said. “It is time to go where we have never gone, to reach out to people we would never reach out to. Almost 4,000 babies die every day just in this country. Are we going to sit at home or are we going to do something about it? Today is not the end of our activism. Today is not the end of our advocacy. Today is the beginning.”

There was also a message of hope for forgiveness. Mary Poirier of Holy Family Apostolate told the crowd she felt called to speak about God’s mercy. “How could God forgive my three abortions?” she asked. “Abortion is wrong. Abortion hurts women. But if you have been through it, it is never too late to ask for forgiveness. God is so powerful; nothing is too big for God to forgive.”

The enigmatic Rev. Denise Walker of Everlasting Light Ministries echoed this statement. “God can forgive you because he forgave me!”

Denise and her husband Brian had chosen to abort their child four months before their wedding. Denise later founded Everlasting Light Ministries with her husband, to bring hope and healing to those who have lost children through abortion.

Rev. Brian Walker emphasized that “it is as much about this child as it is about us: everybody suffers from abortion.” Rev. Brian spoke particularly to the men in the crowd, saying “respect for life starts with you.” He called men to be courageous, to honor women, to live in the footsteps of Christ. “At four weeks the heart is beating,” he said. “Why can’t it beat in a grown man?”

The story of speaker Kathleen Eaton proved not only that forgiveness is possible, but that great things can come of an apparent evil. After an abortion in 1980, Kathleen asked God for forgiveness and told Him that the only way she could forgive herself was if she could save at least one woman and child from the same fate.

“If you say ‘God, use me,’” laughed Kathleen, “he will!” In 1981, she started a small pregnancy resource center which then expanded to half a dozen Birth Choice Health Clinics. According to an abortionist in her community, the spread of Birth Choice clinics across America would cause a “seventy-five percent decrease in abortion without overturning one law.”

As the Ferry Building clock tower struck noon, the walk began to make its way along the Embarcadero past such famous landmarks as Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square to Marina Green Park.

Blessed with sunshine and highs of 70°F, the spirits of the walkers were soaring. Several groups sang and chanted, and a large group of young people played drums, guitars, and tambourines, singing and dancing throughout.

“The people walking are reflections of the healing power of God for life and the protection of life,” said Bishop Blair of Stockton. “We are bearing witness to the Gospel of Life.”

Auxiliary Bishop of San Bernardino Rutilio del Riego said, “It is a gift and a blessing to witness to the sanctity of life. It is an opportunity for many people to hear the message in a positive way, to show that the pro-life movement is one of peace and non-violence.”

A small group of pro-abortion protesters, who gathered along the sidewalks in garish costumes, disrupted the walk with raucous shouts of “You don’t care about women!” and other slogans.

In his opening blessing, Bishop Walsh of Santa Rosa said God “did not spare his own Son and his Mother from a vulnerable beginning. We must care for the unborn, care for all mothers, protect all life, and change the hearts of our fellow citizens.”

For the first time in the history of the Walk for Life, the walkers were accompanied off shore by a sailing ship manned by thirty-three men, which followed the walk as it wound around the bay.

After passing Ghirardelli Square, the endless river of people could be seen streaming along the coast towards the Maritime National Historical Park. The almost 3 mile Walk ended just past the park at Marina Greens, where testimonies were shared at a Silent No More gathering, and numerous vendors provided resources at an Info Fair.

For sale by Ignatius Press was “Unplanned,” Abby Johnson’s best-selling book detailing her experience with Planned Parenthood and her conversion of heart. Abby signed books for a seemingly endless line of admirers, her husband Doug at her side. When asked how she had been most blessed since leaving Planned Parenthood, Abby laughed that it was coming into the Catholic Church. But both she and Doug agreed that in addition to faith, the best blessing was new-found “family time.”

“Without God’s will and without faith, we wouldn’t have the family structure, and the time we spent together wouldn’t have meaning.”

The walk was followed by a Walk for Life Youth Rally that brought together the teenagers and young adults who attended the walk for praise and worship, networking, and advice for further involvement in the pro-life movement.

The 2011 Walk for Life West Coast was attended by a variety of pro-life groups spanning all cultures and faiths, including Silent No More, Priests for Life, Students for Life of America, Lutherans for Life and Anglicans for Life. Next year, the Walk hopes to rally in the AT&T Park, as the numbers of participants have quickly outgrown the plazas downtown.


Meaghen Hale attended the Walk for Life as a member of the Media Team, tweeting her experience as a participant from @bayareacatholic. A video and photo record of the Walk can be found at the Walk for Life Media Blog here. To order Unplanned and for more pro-life resources, go to the book’s website.


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
Steve Weatherbe

,

Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

Steve Weatherbe
By

Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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