The ninth annual Walk for Life West Coast rally at Civic Center Plaza filled the plaza with 50,000 pro-life people publicly showing their opposition to abortion as they walked the two miles from City Hall to the Ferry Building.
The peaceful pro-life walkers traveled through the heart of the city’s shopping and financial districts. More than to 50,000 participated, organizers estimated.
Pope Benedict XVI commended the “outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life” of the Walk for Life West Coast, in a special message delivered by his delegate to tens of thousands gathered in front of San Francisco’s City Hall.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano delivered a message from the pope along with his papal blessing.
Pope Benedict’s message, which was also sent out on a Vatican Twitter feed, said, “His Holiness is grateful to all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and to the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters.”
“You are a powerful witness that God’s truth cannot be silenced,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who blessed participants to begin the event. “Yes, we are here to stay because life is good and life is holy.”
The speakers at the Walk included Lacey Buchanan, the mother of a disabled child; Elaine Riddick, who was forcibly sterilized by the state of North Carolina at age 14; Kelly and Matthew Clinger who regret their abortions; and the Rev. Clenard Childress, Jr., who has spoken at nearly every Walk since its founding in 2005.
“Truth is rising up and you are the picture of that truth,” said Rev. Childress to loud cheers. “We will not draw back until every child is free.”
Lacey Buchanan also shared her story at the West Coast Walk for Life. She never imagined that should would be a pro-life speaker and make a video that would become an Internet sensation, but that is what unexpectedly happened in her life. Her unique story about her son, Christian, has touched many hearts with the message of the beauty and value of every human life.
Lacey married her high school sweetheart at age 21 and they were thrilled to learn they were expecting their first child a few years later. But during a routine ultrasound, they found out something was wrong with the baby. Christian was born several months later with a cleft lip and cleft palate. In addition, his eyes were also clefted and he was blind.
A little over a year after his birth, Lacey made a video recounting their story, using note cards to explain the trials and joys of raising Christian. The video went viral, currently bringing in over 11 million views.
Lacey shares on her blog, “the word ‘abortion’ never crossed my mind when I was pregnant, but the word ‘love’ sure did . . . But to be honest, I didn’t have a choice. Christian was alive the second God placed a soul into that tiny little embryo. He was my son before he was ever conceived. He was God’s child LONG before the world began. So no, it’s not my choice. It never was.”
The Walk for Life began in 2005 with approximately 7,500 people and has grown every year, bringing in over 40,000 people in 2012.
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Co-founder Dolores Meehan explains, “In San Francisco, Washington DC, and across the country, there is a youthful momentum demanding that real choices, life-giving choices, are available to women in crisis pregnancies. The ever increasing number of young people who attend the Walk for Life each year gives us real hope that eventually we will eradicate [the self-limiting proposition of] abortion from our society.”
The Silent No More rally prior to the walk featured actress and model Jennifer O’Neill, who is the national spokeswoman for the Silent No More Post-Abortion Awareness Campaign.
Founded in 2005 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area residents, the Walk for Life West Coast’s mission is to change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is an answer. Walk participants are expected from throughout the Bay Area and across the United States and Canada.