West Coast pro-life walk leaves its mark on Market Street

walk-for-life-san-franciscoEnvision this: the editor at a major newspaper’s assignment desk sheds a bitter tear when she reads a news release about abortion opponents planning a rally.

This story will never get in my paper, she thinks. My own abortion was too painful, and these rally people are just prudes who never could begin to understand what I went through. Fat chance they get any publicity through me!

Could old hurts like these be one reason that dominant, secular daily media often aren’t simply indifferent but downright hostile to what would seem a positive story – thousands of people rallying to defend and offer assistance to troubled mothers and their preborn babies?

If the woman at the assignment desk hit the streets to watch the pro-life rally, she might well see some people up on the speaker’s platform pretty much like herself – even down to the fact of having had abortions.

At the West Coast’s largest annual pro-life rally on Jan. 25, held in downtown San Francisco, two of the four major speakers were women who told of having been pregnant outside marriage a total of three times, one of which ended in abortion.

Just before the rally speeches began, another woman on the platform, who had an abortion at age 16, received an award for her subsequent record of pro-life heroism.

Other women carried signs showing their membership in the “Silent No More Awareness Campaign,” a pro-life healing program established for women who regret their abortions.

Of the rally’s other two main speakers, one majored in chemical biology at the University of California-Berkeley and professes no religion; the other is a veteran black Baptist pastor, whose background includes work with juvenile detainees.

So much for the stereotype of monks and nuns orchestrating the opposition to permissive abortion.

This year’s Walk for Life West Coast featured talks at Civic Center Plaza, in front of San Francisco City Hall, followed by a nearly two-mile-long walk along Market Street to the Ferry Building on the Bay. People marched curb-to-curb down the thoroughfare, which police had closed to vehicular traffic. Various pro-life workshops and observances also were held during the Jan. 24 to 26 weekend.

Two online pro-life news agencies estimated the turnout at a minimum of 60,000 people this year, with LifeSiteNews.com saying the attendance could have ranged up to 70,000 people.

And the San Francisco rally is only about one-tenth the size of the nation’s largest annual rally, the National March for Life held in Washington, D.C., to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s factually unsupportable invention of a fundamental constitutional right to permissive abortion on Jan. 22, 1973.

The San Francisco rally started in 2005 for Westerners, who preferred not to cross the continent in order to show their sympathies. It has grown steadily since.

Although January can be a chilly month in northern California, some walkers were comfortable in shorts and tee shirts under a blue sky. Those people carrying umbrellas were shielding themselves from the sun, not rain.

One of this year’s main speakers, actress Shari Rigby, told the crowd that she gave birth to a son when she was unmarried at 17, but she encountered so much rejection that when she became pregnant again, all she could think of was abortion as a way to avoid more lack of acceptance – a choice she came to regret.

“Listen, we must be a voice of hope, first and foremost, a voice of forgiveness,” she told the crowd.

The rally speakers with unfortunate personal stories illustrated how they incorporated the tragedies into their lives and moved forward, unlike the hypothetical newspaper assignment editor still shedding a bitter tear.

One of Rigby’s acting roles was in the 2011 film “October Baby,” about a young woman, Hannah, who discovers that she actually was aborted as an infant but survived. Hannah sets out to find her biological mother, portrayed by Rigby, then struggles emotionally upon meeting the woman who tried to end her life.

Hannah experiences an epiphany of forgiveness, just as Rigby did in real life.

“October Baby” draws upon the real life of Gianna Jessen, who survived a saline abortion in Southern California in 1977 and grew up to be an inspirational speaker and singer.

In 1978, one-year-old Gianna was brought into a Southern California courtroom as living evidence that babies can survive abortion, despite the claims by an abortionist on trial in Superior Court for homicide that he considered such an event inconceivable.

The abortionist was accused of killing a viable aborted baby girl, who was taken to a hospital’s newborn nursery for life-saving assistance. However, he ordered that nurses caring for the baby must leave the room while he remained with the helpless infant he’d already tried to kill with saline abortion.

Another speaker at the San Francisco rally was Grace Dulaney, founder of the Lamb of God Maternity Home, a San Diego-area ranch for unwed mothers contemplating adoption. She told the crowd she was going through a divorce when she became pregnant, an experience that eventually led her into adoption advocacy.

“I am not proud of how I got myself into the situation, but I am proud of what I did with it,” Dulaney says of the unexpected pregnancy.

She told the crowd, “I want to help you to understand that adoption heals women… These girls are desperately looking for a solution.

“…God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling,” Dulaney said.

Two million wonderful U.S. couples are waiting to adopt, but because of the prevalence of abortion, they keep waiting, she said.

Another speaker was 28-year-old Monica Snyder, representing the Secular Pro-Life organization, many of whose members follow no organized religion, and all of whom argue against abortion from a secular perspective.

Snyder, who attended Berkeley, said that champions of abortion go astray by trying to argue about such ideas as when does the soul enter the body, hoping to make the issue only one of differing theological approaches.

By sticking to the science of prenatal development, “We take away their favorite distraction,” she said.

“…The fact that I have no religion but I am still passionately pro-life means we are winning,” Snyder added. “…The pro-life movement is winning because we are the big tent… Everyone who recognizes the horror of abortion is welcome,” whether they’re atheists, agnostics, some other sort of secularist, or religious believers.

Baptist Pastor Clenard Childress Jr. warned of the threat to religious liberty presented by the Obama administration’s attacks on individual conscience through government mandates on health care.

Recalling the words of Albert Einstein, the German-born genius and physicist who refused to return to that country when Adolf Hitler assumed power, Childress quoted him: “Never surrender conscience, even if the state demands it.”

The Walk for Life West Coast notifies the Obama administration, “I will not surrender my conscience,” Childress told the marchers, adding, “You do what is right not for reward … but because it’s right…

“Enough is enough!…We will stay in the streets. We will engage in civil disobedience,” the pastor said.

Just before the speeches began, Georgette Forney was given a pro-life heroism award for her efforts, including being co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in 2002. She had an abortion when she was 16 which she regrets.

Perhaps 200 pro-abortion champions stood alongside Market Street, a number of them holding orange and black signs saying, “Abortion on demand & without apology.”

The dominant northern California daily paper, the pro-abortion San Francisco Chronicle, took a baby step forward this year in recognizing the pro-life walk. The paper printed a color photo of some walkers all across the top of Page C-2.

However, the caption claimed both the pro-life and pro-abortion sides’ turnout to be of significant weight. It began, “Both sides of the abortion debate were out in force Saturday afternoon in downtown San Francisco for the 10th annual Walk for Life.” The caption did say “tens of thousands of abortion protesters paraded down Market Street,” then added that “they were countered loudly by hundreds of activists” on the other side.

Tens of thousands is countered by hundreds? If that caption writer manages a family budget, prepare for financial despair.

About Dexter Duggan Religion & Politics 15 Articles
Dexter Duggan has been a weekly writer for The Wanderer, a Catholic newspaper, since 1997.