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50,000 fill San Francisco streets in Walk for Life

January 30, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

Archbishop Cordileone: ‘Our ideology is pro-life and pro-woman’

Tens of thousands of people walked down Market Street in San Francisco, chanting, “We are the pro-life generation” in the 11th annual Walk for Life West Coast, the largest pro-life demonstration in the Western United States.

Second only in size to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Jan. 24 pro-life rally at Civic Center and 1.8-mile walk down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza drew more than 50,000 people and slowed traffic throughout the downtown area for several hours, meriting traffic alerts on local radio stations.

“There is a war on women but we are not declaring war, we have come to set women free!” declared Walk for Life rally speaker Joy Pinto.

“The civil rights movement of this present age is the pro-life movement and we are nearing our victory and we cannot compromise,” declared walk speaker Rev. Clenard Childress Jr., founder of Blackgenocide.org and a Baptist minister in Montclair, New Jersey.

The walk is held on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Many began the day at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the 9:30 a.m. Walk for Life Mass where San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone told the standing room only crowd of nearly 5,000, “Our goal is not a legal one nor is it a political one. Our goal is a spiritual one: to build a culture of life.”

“My young people, you are the pro-life generation,” Archbishop Cordileone said, noting that once again a majority of those present were young, adding “Let us be clear. Our ideology is pro-life and pro-woman. The two go together.”

The apostolic nuncio, the Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganÒ told the tens of thousands gathered at Civic Center “your presence here at the Walk for Life West Coast is a very powerful sign of your faith.”

“It is possible the only one without freedom of speech is the unborn,” Archbishop ViganÒ said, saying of those in the womb: “They have no right to see the light.”

Archbishop ViganÒ read “warm greetings and closeness in prayer” from Pope Francis to the crowd at Civic Center. The Vatican message of support concluded “For truly as the theme of this year’s walk makes clear, life is the choice and the protection of this fundamental human right together with the firm rejection of all violations of human dignity are essential conditions of the building of a just and inclusive society.”

“We come because we want to end abortion and we think abortion is a tragedy that affects everyone,” said Margaret Koehler, a mechanical engineering major, who spoke for the 20 Stanford Pro-Life students at Civic Center. “And we think by demonstrating today we can help to open people’s hearts and minds to stop abortion.”

In addition to Childress and Pinto, speakers included Julia Holcomb, who told the story of her abortion during a relationship as a teenager with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, and Rebekah Buell who shared how a new technique allowed her to save her unborn baby even after taking the first RU486 pill. Joy Pinto and her husband Jim are hosts of EWTN shows and work with Her Choice Birmingham Women’s Center in Alabama.

Among those rallying for life were 60 students from Wyoming Catholic College clad in blue shirts emblazoned with a cowboy boot and the motto “Cowboys for Life,” 120 students from Thomas Aquinas College, thousands of high school students from throughout Northern California and members of numerous Bay Area and California Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and other denominations.

Founded in 2005 by a group of Bay Area residents with the mission of changing the perception that abortion is the answer, the Walk for Life West Coast is the largest pro-life demonstration on the West Coast.

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