50,000 join jubilant West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco (Updated 50 PHOTOS)
Flickr photo slideshow courtesy Ray Dinkha and Jong Arcega photos
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Organizers estimate that over 50,000 people walked, sang, chanted and prayed in the 9th annual Walk for Life West Coast Saturday. The air was jubilant as the crowd of pro-lifers from as far away as Maine walked the two miles from City Hall to the Ferry building, passing through neighborhoods dotted alternately with large banks and government, and strip clubs, homeless people and old men crowded around chess boards.
It was beautiful and sunny day, with very little of the infamous San Francisco winds. The crowd was mostly comprised of youth, the survivors of the now 40 years of abortion on demand, ushered in by the 1973 Roe v Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Anyone spending the day downtown was aware that something was going on, since streets were jammed with traffic for hours. City-bound traffic on the 101 Freeway was backed up for over a mile well past 3:30 pm.
Nearing the rally point, chanting and music wafted through the air. Young people were playing percussion instruments and Native American women were performing traditional dances.
Before the main rally began, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign stage hosted 26 post-abortive women from around the U.S. They shared their stories of regret while holding signs that said, “I regret my abortion.” Men held signs that said, “I regret lost fatherhood.”
Georgette Forney, president of the campaign, stood by each woman as they took the microphone, comforting and supporting them while the crowd of tearful faces stood silent.
Deborah Schneider was one of those women. She traveled with a group of Silent No More women from Phoenix. Speaking to the crowd, she explained that her abortion happened in the “earlier days” when abortionists didn’t care to hide the fruit of their labor. The “jars of body parts” of the dead children of women who had walked into that room before her were on display around the room. She said, “I felt like I had just experienced the worst form of sexual assault I could ever imagine, with the private parts of my body grossly violated and my baby dead.”
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Through her tearful testimony, Ms. Schneider delivered a hopeful message of healing and said that by giving her testimony, she is “silent no more about the false claims of the abortion industry.” She added, “Since abortion fails to deliver on its promises, abortion should be recalled.”
Transitioning from the pain of abortion into hope for its end, the main rally started with a good old-fashioned chant - “West Coast! West Coast!” - and an invocation from San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J Cordileon at the Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall. Bishop Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano delivered a message and blessing from Pope Benedict expressing his gratefulness to “all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and most defenseless of our brothers and sisters.”
The hour-long rally included rousing speeches and inspiring testimonies, including that of Lacy Buchanan, whose son was diagnosed with disabilities in utero and whose YouTube video sharing her pro-life witness has reached 11 million viewers. She was met with cheers when she said of her son, “His disability does not devalue his life and does not define his worth.”
Elaine Riddick, victim of North Carolina’s eugenics project, shared her story of becoming pregnant by rape and being forcibly sterilized at the age of 14 for being deemed “feebleminded” and “promiscuous” by the state. Her son stood with her as she fired up the crowd to rise up in defense of the vulnerable.
Then, Kelly Clinger, a former Britney Spears back-up singer, took the stage with her husband to represent the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Together, Kelly and her husband, Matt, shared their story of regret and healing after abortion. They named Kelly’s aborted children “Goodness” and “Mercy,” quoting the scripture passage, “For surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” Then Kelly added, “And until abortion is ended, I will be silent no more.”
Rounding off a refreshingly diverse portrait of the pro-life movement, Rev. Peter Irving, pastor of Holy Innocents Parish in Long Beach, California, was presented with the St. Giana Molla award for rallying an entire parish to adopt an abortion facility. His parishioners are all involved in saving children from abortion. They serve the women and children in any needs they might have throughout pregnancy and after birth. As of the Saturday, Fr. Irving could report 556 confirmed “saves” – children rescued from abortion – since he started his parish’s activities in February of 2006.
Then, the crowds were sent off by Rev. Clenard Childress, who implored those present to keep advocating on behalf of preborn children “until every child in the womb is free.”
The crowd departed cheering and chanting, crowding the streets. Less than twenty counter-protesters were present at the rally site. The rally and event were a powerful peaceful demonstration in defense of the human rights of the preborn and the dignity of women.