Participants carry a banner during the annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco Jan. 21.
JOSE AGUIRRE/WALK FOR LIFE WEST COAST, cns
Walk for Life fills streets ahead of Women's March
Women's march particpants
Women religious, in small groups and individually, walked in support of marginalized communities, for immigrant rights and other social justice issues at the Jan. 21 Women's March in cities throughout the East Bay, San Francisco Bay Area and cities across the nation. Sister Barbara Nixon and her sister, Sister Dianne Nixon, both members of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (pictured in aqua-colored jackets) participated in the Women's March in downtown Oakland. Other SNJM participants included Sisters Rosemary Delaney, Cynthia Canning, Diane Enos, Mary Sullivan and Holy Names High School and Holy Names University students.
Despite the last-minute scheduling of a large Women's March less than two hours after the 13th annual Walk for Life West Coast, tens of thousands of pro-life supporters filled Civic Center Plaza and walked the 1.7 miles from City Hall to Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco Jan. 21.
"There were so many people, it was crazy," said Walk co-chair Eva Muntean who had worked closely with police and held conversations with the organizers of the Women's March to ensure a smooth transition between the two events.
"The police were out in full force and did a great job throughout the day," said Muntean. Despite days of rain, including heavy rain and wind in the morning, the rain held off until the Walk's conclusion. "I thought the weather and the Women's March might have reduced turnout, but that was not the case," said Muntean.
About 50 pro-abortion protesters gathered on the sidewalk of Market Street adjacent to where a group of anti-abortion protesters unaffiliated with the Walk had set up a Jumbo Tron with graphic images of aborted babies. A wall of balloons from the Walk organizers attempted to block the images from those passing the spot about midway along the Market Street route. A line of police on motorcycles and on foot formed a barrier between the Jumbo Tron organizers, the pro-abortion demonstrators and the Walk for Life participants.
The Walk for Life West Coast, founded in 2005, is a non-partisan event held on the Saturday closest to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. This year President Donald Trump's inauguration sparked a hastily organized nationwide series of Women's Marches the same day, with San Francisco's march at 3 p.m., shortly after the Walk rally concluded.
Walk speaker Rev. Clenard Childress has been addressing San Francisco Walk for Life crowds since 2005, and the founder of Black Genocide said he is hopeful for the future. Looking out at a crowd holding signs that declared "We are the pro-life generation" and "Women deserve better than abortion," the New Jersey Baptist pastor said, "Your light must shine now."
"This is your time. This is your season," Childress said.
Childress referred tacitly to Trump's pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices and defund Planned Parenthood. Two days later, on Jan. 23, Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. foreign aid to non-governmental organizations which provide or promote abortion which will impact International Planned Parenthood.
"It is a season where God is moving on behalf of those who have labored for so long," Childress said. Childress urged prayers for Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington, D.C.
The Women's March in San Francisco took the same route as the Walk for Life but started at 3 p.m. It also drew tens of thousands of supporters, many carrying coat-hanger signs signaling support for abortion. In San Francisco, organizers said they welcomed pro-life supporters but the national Women's March in Washington expelled a pro-life group and the Women's Marches were heavily promoted and supported by Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other abortion rights groups.
Speakers at the Walk for Life were a cross section of pro-life advocates. Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women's Rights Without Frontiers highlighted the abuse of women by China's forced abortion policy where as many as 23 million abortions a year are performed. Littlejohn introduced the two girls, Anni and Ruli, she and her husband are raising in the U.S. because of persecution in China due to the activism of their father Zhang Lin who was just recently released from prison.
Melissa Ohden who survived a saline abortion spoke of her journey and urged Christian love toward women who abort, those who promote abortion, and those in the abortion industry. Pam Tebow, mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, spoke of carrying her son to term despite doctors' advice she abort.
The Walk opened with an invocation by Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and a message of support from the papal nuncio conveying Pope Francis' support was read by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. Archbishop Cordileone presented the Walk's St. Gianna Molla Award to Dr. George Delgado of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego for his pioneering work on a procedure to reverse the abortion pill.
Campaign against forced abortion in China
"Two hundred million girls are missing in the world today," said Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women's Rights Without Frontiers. "That's greater than the number of casualties in all the wars of the 20th Century."
She minces no words: "This is the real war on women."
Speaking at the Issues4Life dinner Jan. 20 in Walnut Creek, the activist, whose primary focus is on fighting forced abortion in China, connected the dots between forced abortion and sterilization and sexual slavery, gendercide and high rates of suicide among women.
Beware of reports of the end to China's one-child policy, Littlejohn told the audience.
"China boasts it prevented 400 million lives through the one-child policy," she said. Now, she said, the coercion begins after the birth of the second child.
"They just moved the number," she said.
Among the initiatives of her group is the employment of field workers, who seek out pregnant women, offering a stipend to women who give birth.
She was clear that her movement is to empower women in China to keep their daughters, not to serve as an adoption agency.
Littlejohn traced her activism to a visit with Mother Teresa.
The Yale Law School graduate was volunteering at a home for girls and disabled children in India.
The fight against forced abortion is not polarizing, Littlejohn said. "No one believes in forced abortion," she said.
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