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 ( – 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.


Share this article

Featured Image
giulio napolitano /
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry


Pope Francis attacks ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics, dismisses condom ban as unimportant

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- On the plane returning from his journey to Africa today Pope Francis made his clearest remarks in condemnation of ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics.

"Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions," Francis said, as reported by the National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee, and similarly by other journalists on the plane.  "We Catholics have some -- and not some, many -- who believe in the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil."

"They do evil," said the pope. "I say this because it is my church."

"We have to combat it," he said. "Religious fundamentalism is not religious, because it lacks God. It is idolatry, like the idolatry of money."

Turning to Islam, the pope spoke of his friendship with a Muslim, adding, “You cannot cancel out a religion because there are some groups, or many groups in a certain point of history, of fundamentalists.”

"Like everything, there are religious people with values and those without," he said. "But how many wars … have Christians made? The sacking of Rome was not done by Muslims, eh?"

STORY: Vatican’s liturgy chief contradicts Pope Francis on Communion for non-Catholics

On the same flight a journalist asked about the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS and if it was time for the Church to change its position.

The pope acknowledged that condoms are one method of prevention, saying that the Church was faced with a perplexity of whether to follow the fifth commandment (Thou shalt not kill) “or that sexual relations are open to life.” 

He dismissed this however as ‘not the problem’ and said it reminded him of the question asked Jesus, “Tell me, teacher, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Is it obligatory to heal?’

Catholic News Agency carries the fullest rendition of the pope’s quotes on the matter, relating his words thus:

“Let’s not talk about if one can use this type of patch or that for a small wound, the serious wound is social injustice, environmental injustice,” Pope Francis continued. “I don’t like to go down to reflections on such case studies when people die due to a lack of water, hunger, environment...when all are cured, when there aren’t these illnesses, tragedies, that man makes, whether for social injustice or to earn more money – I think of the trafficking of arms – when these problems are no longer there, I think we can ask the question ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”

 “Because, if the trafficking of arms continues, wars are the biggest cause of mortality...I would say not to think about whether it’s lawful or not to heal on the Sabbath, I would say to humanity: ‘make justice,’ and when all are cured, when there is no more injustice, we can talk about the Sabbath.”

While in Africa the pope used very strong language to promote the climate change agreement at the Paris climate summit that started today. He said it would be a “catastrophe” if it did not achieve acceptance in Paris in the coming days and added that the decision came down to the choice “either to improve or to destroy the environment.”

Speaking at the United Nations center in Nairobi on November 26, Pope Francis said, “In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues. It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.”


Share this article

Featured Image
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben


Ben Carson on Colorado shooting: pro-lifers need to ‘tone down’ ‘hateful rhetoric’

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - After a string of verbal gaffes and controversies over the depth of his pro-life convictions, Dr. Ben Carson has implied that the pro-life movement needs to "tone down" its "hateful rhetoric" and "become more mature."

The doctor was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about abortion supporters' claims that pro-life speech led to Robert Lewis Dear's shooting inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society," Dr. Carson said. "This has been a big problem."

"No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation," Carson affirmed.

Lamenting that social discourse had become less civil, he said modern political "rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful."

“I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion," Dr. Carson said.

Pro-life leaders were quick to rebut his charges that they engage in extreme or immature rhetoric. (See related story.)

After briefly leading rival Donald Trump in a series of national polls, Carson's presidential hopes have crumpled amidst a series of misstatements and retractions that have led national commentators to question whether the political novice is ready to be president of the United States. Last Sunday, talk show host Rush Limbaugh told Fox News that Ben Carson is "probably not" fully "equipped to be president."

The statement apparently condemning pro-life rhetoric comes after Carson, a famed neurosurgeon, told a Florida reporter that attempts to save the life of Terri Schiavo were "much ado about nothing."

Dr. Carson told LifeSiteNews exclusively that his remarks had been taken out of context by a Tampa Bay Times reporter. The reporter later posted the full transcript of his question, and Dr. Carson's answer to provide context.

Full transcript of the "Face the Nation" segment:

Dickerson: OK. I would like to ask you about a domestic political event or what some people see has a political element to it, and that's the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs.

Some abortion rights supporters have said that the rhetoric has led to that kind of violence. What's your view on that?

Carson: There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society.

This has been a big problem. Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity. And we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other. And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful.

When you have outside forces, global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us, why would we be doing that to ourselves? We, at some point, have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation, and we should be doing all we can to engage an intelligence, civil discussion about our differences.

That's how we solve problems. We don't ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.

Dickerson: Should abortion rights -- excuse me -- should those who oppose abortion rights tone down their rhetoric?

Carson: I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion.

Featured Image
Robert Lewis Dear
John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John


Everything we know about the Planned Parenthood shooter

John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John
By John Jalsevac
Robert Dear's shanty in North Carolina where he spent part of his time.

November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Planned Parenthood, and supporters of abortion rights, have pointed to Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility as evidence that the pro-life movement is responsible for encouraging violence through its "hateful rhetoric." Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains has declared that the shooter himself "was motivated by opposition to Planned Parenthood and access to abortion," although police have not officially released any information about his motives.

Meanwhile, the picture emerging of the man who allegedly opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility Friday is one of a deeply disturbed recluse who, though opposed to abortion, had little interest in and no known history of active involvement in the abortion debate, with a long spate of run-ins with the law and a pattern of bizarre behavior that left some of those who encountered him fearful for their safety, and many convinced that he wasn't in his right mind.

On Saturday morning Colorado Springs police identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina, as the suspect in the shooting that left three dead, and another nine injured. Dear allegedly began shooting outside the Planned Parenthood facility just before noon, Mountain Time, Friday, before retreating into the facility for a five hour stand-off with police.

Planned Parenthood has confirmed that none of its staff were injured in the shooting. Both of the civilians killed were reportedly accompanying friends to appointments.

The New York Daily News reports that an online dating profile that appears to have been posted by Dear in the early 2000s has Dear asking for "discreet" sadomasochistic sex, as well as pot-smoking companions. Other posts on by someone with a username associated with Dear, include what the Daily News describes as "paranoid Biblical rants." reports that Dear was arrested and charged in 2002 on "animal cruelty," eavesdropping and "peeping tom" charges. He was acquitted of the animal cruelty charges after a bench trial, while the latter charges were dismissed.

The animal cruelty charge was apparently related to an incident in which Dear allegedly shot a neighbor's dog in the leg with a pellet gun.

USA Today reports that a 2004 police report shows Dear threatened to "do bodily harm" to a neighbor.

He also has numerous previous convictions for various traffic violations. These include seat belt violations, driver’s license violations, operating a vehicle in an unsafe mechanical condition and driving a non-registered vehicle.

ABC reports that Dear spent some of his time living in a cabin in the woods in North Carolina, without running water or electricity. Neighbors say he was a quiet man who seemed "off." They said that when he did speak, he tended to ramble on a disconnected series of topics.

One neighbor, James Russell, said that two topics they never heard Dear speak about were religion and abortion. Russell also said that Dear tended to avoid eye contact. "Nothing with him was very cognitive," said Russell about Dear.

RELATED: Police officer killed at Planned Parenthood was pro-life, Christian pastor

James Howie, who lived close to one of Dear's remote properties in North Carolina, told USA Today that Dear once asked him to do some foundation work on his shack. After accompanying Dear to the job site, Howie declined the job. "I was just glad to get home," he said about the experience, adding that in his view Dear seemed crazy, although not dangerous.

Another neighbor told the Washington Post that Dear "was the kind of person you had to watch out for. He was a very weird individual. It's hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time."

Another neighbor told the Post, "He complained about everything. He said he worked with the government, and everybody was out to get him, and he knew the secrets of the USA. He said, 'Nobody touch me, because I've got enough information to put the whole U.S. of A in danger.' It was very crazy."

Another neighbor said that she and her family "kept out of his way." "He wouldn't really speak to anybody, he wouldn't wave," Mallory Nicoletti, 29, told the Citizen-Times.

John Hood, another neighbor, told NBCNews that Dear rarely spoke with him, but when he did, it was to offer bizarre advice. On one occasion, said Hood, Dear urged him to get a metal roof installed on his house, so the US government couldn't spy on him. Hood also said he erected a fence between their properties, because Dear had a habit of skinny dipping. 

RELATED: This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

Those living in the North Carolina community where Dear had his shack said they were frustrated by the fact that Dear would leave for days at a time, leaving behind two dogs with no food or water, who would start to get aggressive.

“We’re not isolationists,” one resident said. “You know how whenever someone goes crazy, the neighbors say he was so quiet and normal. That wasn’t the case here. He was weird. Everyone kept an eye on him.”

"He was really tightly wound," said another resident. "You could see that from the stress on his face, from the way he acted.”

Still another went even further, telling the Post, "He was just always saying, ‘I know the U.S. is trying to kill everybody’ and do this and do that. He [said he] was an undercover [agent]. Just craziness. Just pure, right-out craziness all the time.

“I’m kind of glad he’s put away now."

The Gateway Pundit also reports that, bizarrely, Dear was registered to vote as a woman, although it is unclear whether this is simply a clerical error or has any deeper significance. His party was listed as "unaffiliated."

One anonymous source, reportedly with the police, told the Washington Post that in a confusing rant following his arrest Dear did make mention of "baby body parts," suggesting some connection with the recent series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

However, the source added that this was but one topic among many mentioned by Dear in a speech that left investigators unclear as to his specific motivation.

Planned Parenthood has issued a statement saying that based upon eyewitnesses they believe Dear "was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion." 

Dear's ex-wife, Pamela Ross, told the New York Times he was a Bible-believing Christian, and that he opposed abortion, but that it "was never really a topic of conversation" in their house.

RELATED: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

Ross and Dear divorced in 2000. The picture that Ross paints of her ex-husband as a physically healthy man who lifted weights, took good care of himself, enjoyed listening to U2 and riding motorcycles, clashes markedly with the accounts of those who lived near him in the years since their parting. 

Ross said she was shocked at the man she saw on TV following his arrest this weekend.

“Something must have happened to him when he moved away, that’s all I know," she said. “Me and our whole family are extremely devastated and heartbroken by the victims of these families, and we have no words that can ever comfort them other than to say we’re sorry for what he did.”

However, Ross admits that she did call police on Dear in 1997, after a case of domestic violence. She didn't press charges at the time.

Dear reportedly brought several "items" with him into the Planned Parenthood facility, which police had said they were concerned could be explosives. Early Saturday morning police tweeted that those items have been "secured" and are "no longer a threat."

Subsequent reports have suggested those items were propane tanks that Dear may have been trying to shoot in order to cause an explosion.

After a five-hour standoff with police, during which Dear repeatedly exchanged gunfire with them, police were able to establish voice contact with the suspect by shouting. At that point they were able to convince him to surrender.

While some reports have indicated that the shooting actually began outside a nearby Chase Bank, and may have been related to a robbery, Springfield police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said at a press conference Friday evening that the shooting appears to have begun at the Planned Parenthood. 

While Dear's motive is still unknown, pro-life groups have issued statements condemning the violence, and urging caution in jumping to conclusions.

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion."

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook