Walk for Life West Coast held its 19th annual rally and walk in San Francisco on Jan. 21, one day before the 50th anniversary of the historical Roe V. Wade decision.

The event started with a rally at Civic Center Plaza outside City Hall with two stages and several speakers. Then participants walked through the city down Market Street.

“Our goal for the Walk for Life has always been to bring awareness to the harm of abortion, to women primarily, of course to children, to unborn children, to siblings, to fathers, to all of society. Our message is that abortion hurts women,” Dolores Meehan, co-founder of Walk for Life West Coast, told The Epoch Times as the rally was getting underway.

Although San Francisco is known for having a large pro-choice population, Meehan said that the city’s logistical departments have always been professional and treated the event just like any other during the past 19 years.

Walk for Life attendees Robert Byrd (front), Emily Jones (3rd L), and Darshellia Butler (L of Byrd) at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Robert Byrd, the executive coordinator for activist group Pro-Life San Francisco, told The Epoch Times during the rally that abortion laws have changed recently in California.

“Last fall, with Proposition 1, which California leaders poorly educated the voting population on—it created it so that elective abortion, abortion without any medical reason, was legal throughout birth,” Byrd said.

“Life begins at conception; they have their own DNA,” said event attendee Emily Jones.

Jones is with the pro-life group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.

“We are training up the young generation. We are getting into the high schools, and we are getting into the colleges, and we are teaching these students how to debate, how to fight against these lies that they are hearing every day. Because social media, their friends, schools, entertainment, TV, even some churches are telling them it’s your choice, do what’s best for you. It’s not your choice. That is a different human being inside your body,” said Jones.

“Culturally there’s been a lot of back and forth about what abortion is, who’s it for? Who can have it? Who can’t have it? And I think tragically people who look like me have been heavily disenfranchised and miseducated on the fact that we need to keep these [abortion] facilities in our community. However, what it is, is controlling the ethnic population in this country by continuing to allow these facilities to execute us,” said attendee Darshellia Butler.

“I think if we could actually come together instead of protesting each other so often and find a lot more solutions I think we would see a lot more abortions be lessened and lessened. If we could agree on when life begins or if we could just agree on the fact that a woman’s number one choice shouldn’t have to be abortion. It should be something else. That should be the last-case scenario if it even was an option,” attendee Jazzi Milton told The Epoch Times.

“I believe life begins at conception, and it has nothing to do with religion and it has to do with moral law, basic law, natural law. Every life deserves to live. Life begins at conception,” attendee David Sanchez told The Epoch Times.

A group of around 200 counter-protesters showed up at Civic Center Plaza about halfway through the rally. The group marched into a separated area, chanting: “Get out, right now! San Francisco’s a pro-choice town!”

Epoch Times Photo
Pro-abortion protesters march into San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza to counter the Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

A vehicle carried a PA speaker system, and a woman with a microphone walked with the vehicle, leading the chants. Many held up signs such as “Legal abortion nationwide now” and “We demand reproductive justice now.”

San Francisco police officers were on duty during the rally to make sure the two groups stayed separated.

Frank Pavone from Priests for Life emceed the side stage for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which was held before the main event at the rally.

“Realize that there is healing. Understand that we who reject abortion do not reject those who have had abortions. Rather, we embrace them with the peace, the mercy, the healing, the forgiveness of Christ,” Pavone said to the crowd.

Pavone has been a very active and outspoken pro-life activist. He was laicized in December 2022 by the Vatican for “blasphemous communications on social media.”

In a speech during the rally, Shawn Carney, CEO, president, and co-founder of 40 Days for Life, encouraged listeners to keep fighting in California, “the abortion capital of the Western Hemisphere.”

“And it’s only a matter of time as we see many in our country rushing, rushing to be on the wrong side of history. The other side does not know what to do,” Carney said.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade in 2022, he said: “They didn’t expect Roe to be overturned. And so they are doing something that we had to do for many years, which is just react; they are reacting.”

Angela Minter, president of Sisters for Life, also spoke during the rally.

“Because of Roe v. Wade being overturned, over 11,000 babies are doing well today,” Minter said.

Epoch Times Photo
Walk for Life attendees walk down Market Street in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was also in attendance for the walk. The archbishop made headlines in May 2022 for barring former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion over her stance on abortion. Pelosi is a resident of San Francisco.

The parade was led by a line of young girls holding a large “Abortion Hurts Women” banner, chanting “Ho ho, hey hey, Roe v. Wade has gone away” and “Pro-women, pro-life,” and singing songs.

Following the leading line were around 10,000 participants, more than in previous years. The parade moved very slowly.

Participants held various banners, such as “Pray to End Abortion,” “Choose Life,” and “Peace Begins in the Womb.”

The group walked through the downtown area and the financial district, ending at Embarcadero Plaza.

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