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Walk for Life West Coast draws thousands to San Francisco march

Walk_for_Life_West_Coast1.jpg The Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 23, 2021. Credit: Walk for Life West Coast.

Despite pandemic restrictions, thousands of pro-life advocates showed their support at the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco on Saturday.

Eva Muntean, co-chair of Walk for Life, said she expected only a few hundred to attend the march because of the pandemic but was pleasantly surprised to walk alongside about 2,500 pro-life demonstrators.

“That pro-lifers would show up, and in numbers beyond our hope, in the face not only of Covid but also of threats of political unrest, shows the unshakable commitment pro-lifers have to protecting the littlest and most defenseless among us,” she told CNA.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and 12 priests began the event with the annual Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The church was filled to capacity under pandemic restrictions, and some worshipers prayed outside in the plaza.

The protesters gathered at Civic Center Plaza after Mass. While the San Francisco Police Department provided officers for safety, Muntean said, the Walk for Life was not intercepted by counter-protesters for the first time in 17 years.

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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the organization was unable to use buses to transport protesters nor was it able to obtain an event permit from the city. Without the permit, the group was not allowed to erect a stage or sound system.

During the event, Walk chaplain Father Joseph Fessio, who is also the founder of Ignatius Press, and Clenard Childress, senior pastor at New Calvary Baptist Church in New Jersey, addressed the crowd from the bed of a pick-up truck.

“You are the remnant…there has never been a more important Walk for Life West Coast!...This is a time of faith. That is why you are here right now. You did not come here because of circumstances. You are here because of justice” said Childress, according to Walk for Life.

Co-chair Dolores Meehan also spoke at the event. She discussed the walk’s annual theme "Abortion Hurts Women,” and expressed her gratitude for the safety provided by the local police force.

“You’re all standing in the breech for women who have been hurt by abortion, for all the kids who have died by abortion and for all those who need our help today,” she said.

“We are incredibly grateful to Our Lady and the San Francisco Police Department for giving us such a safe event.”

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According to Walk For life, Meehan recognized the concerns about the coronavirus and political unrest, but she said the members of her team “discerned that continuing to stand as a peaceful, public witness to the harm that abortion has inflicted on our society, is as important today as it has ever been.” Participants were also encouraged to follow social distancing protocol and wear masks.

“We appreciate all of the pro-life warriors who supported us in prayer (from home) this year. Your contribution is essential and your pro-life commitment is unquestionable,” she added.

Muntean expressed the important impact Walk For Life has on the city and on the Christian community, especially under the current challenges. She said families have been isolated because of the pandemic and the pro-life community is now faced with a presidential administration that supports abortion rights.

She said, being able to gather again as a community, was revitalizing. 

“Our presence on the streets of San Francisco, in the face of risk and in opposition to the most pro-abortion administration in American history shows: we will not compromise. We walked to bring unity and rejuvenation to the pro-life movement that so needs it under this new administration,” she told CNA.

“In 17 years I have never had so many people come up to me to say ‘thank you for doing this,’” she added.

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