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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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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