Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Walk for Life West Coast 2013

(You should be able to click on the photos to see larger versions. See additional photos here.)

Several SPL supporters and I attended San Francisco's annual Walk for Life West Coast last Saturday. The WFLWC includes an hour long rally at the Civic Center before marching down Market St. through the center of San Francisco's financial district. We arrived at the Civic Center about half an hour before the rally was to begin, so I had time to explore the huge crowd.

See here for a better shot.
As with years past, the crowd included the spectrum of ages: elderly couples, families with multiple young children, and high school and college students.

I'm also continually struck by the strong Hispanic presence; I expect this is due to the region of the country (California has a much higher Hispanic population than the national average) and due to the heavily Catholic presence at the Walk (Catholics are disproportionately Hispanic).

"Choose Life"
This of course implies, also as with years past, that the Walk had strong Catholic overtones. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:
This year's event not only featured the archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, but also Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², the papal nuncio, who is the equivalent of the Vatican's ambassador to the United States.
As Secular ProLife has previously mentioned, some abortion proponents have tried to purposely paint the pro-life movement as exclusively Catholic and based on religious convictions. However, in this case the Chronicle's focus on the heavily Catholic aspects of the Walk confirmed my own observations.

During the rally SPL supporters prepared our own banner across the street from the main square.

While setting our banner up, a man from the rally crossed the street to tell us that we are very welcome to join the rally, regardless of belief system. It was incredibly sweet. We told him we fully intended to join as soon as we had our banner put together, and he shook our hands and returned to the main square.

Meanwhile, as the speeches continued a small group of pro-choice counter protesters gathered near the rear of the crowd and began shouting chants and slogans such as "Get your Bible off my body!" 

I'm not even sure what that last one means. In any case, as you can see some of the counter protesters were clearly responding to the religious aspects of the movement. Most of the pro-life crowd near the counter protesters ignored them, but a few people stood near the counter protesters and began praying the rosary. Some just silently stood near the counter protesters and held up their signs.

Soon the actual walking part of the Walk began. SPL supporters cut around the outside of the square to get near the beginning of the column, and I'm glad we did. As ABC reported, "the crowd was so large that it took the better part of an hour for it to clear the plaza."

I am so grateful for the SPL supporters that came to walk with us. We had more than enough help such that two of us were able to run ahead of the SPL banner and take photos of other sections of the Walk.

I thought Life Matters Journal would be happy to see this!

Go Bears!

Interestingly placed Obama quote.
Eventually the pro-life crowd found themselves marching past another group of pro-choice counter protesters, this one larger than the group we saw at our rally. They had a lot of megaphones.

Most of them shouted chants, but one woman spoke into her megaphone just as if she were having a conversation with the entire pro-life group: "Why can't you just let us make decisions for ourselves, guys? You live how you want to live and we live how we want to live. I'm not telling you what to do, guys, so don't tell me what to do..." I don't agree with her perspective, but I thought it was a refreshing approach compared to some of the rest of it:

Meanwhile, I was pretty pleased with the visibility of our SPL banner.

Throughout the Walk we had many people run ahead to read our banner, laugh, and take photos. At one point a man with a video camera asked me to explain what SPL is all about, although I don't know if that will get posted anywhere. The Walk was pretty enjoyable with our enthusiastic supporters:

This is my 6th Walk for Life West Coast. The first time I attended was only the 2nd year they had the WFLWC. The organizers of the Walk explained they wanted to demonstrate that even in one of the most left-wing areas of the country there is a strong pro-life presence. It's a brilliant idea. I know people from around the country that travel to Washington DC for the March for Life, but for many pro-lifers such a long distance isn't feasible. Now we are growing a west coast counterpart that has increased in attendance every year--in 2005 they estimated 7,000 attendees, and this year they estimated over 50,000! I'm grateful to the thousands upon thousands of pro-lifers who converge to strengthen our voice, and I'm grateful for the chance to stand among our religious counterparts and represent the secular viewpoint.


Crystal Kupper said...

I love seeing people of all stripes join together in unity. It's a beautiful thing!

Tiff said...

Does anyone have an estimate of how many counter-protesters there were at the West Coast march? Maybe it's the weather, but we were in DC this year and with the estimated 500,000+ pro-life marchers I saw/counted only a few dozen, maybe 50 counter-protesters at most. It sounds like you guys encountered a much higher percentage of them in California.

Clinton Wilcox said...

It couldn't have been very many. I didn't get a very good look at the counter-protesters, but there couldn't have been more than fifty of them, overall.

Clinton Wilcox said...

"...stand up against Christian fascists?" These people have no idea what fascism actually is.

Kelsey said...

West Coast always has more counter-protestors than the D.C. March for Life just because it's in a much more culturally pro-abortion part of the country.

Kara Baylog said...

I love that Obama quote made to support the pro-life cause. It absolutely applies both for gun control and for abortion restriction and I hope it speaks to the similar logic used to support the fight for both (particularly because the venn diagram of pro-life and gun control advocates has a very small overlap).

Anonymous said...

Yes! So glad SPL was there, and I loved the banner! We must all stand together as Americans and fight for the rights of ALL... especially the most vulnerable amongst us. :-)

danielle said...

I walked in San Francisco and made an effort to count every counter protester I saw and I counted 72 total. There were 2 small groups and two larger groups but all together 72.I might have missed a few but it' pretty easy to see and hear them as we walk because they are usually a few feet away from us.Every year their number is shrinking dramatically and even more satisfying to see is how their "arguments" are disappearing. I heard one counter protestor yelling at one young lady who was marching with us" If you don't like abortion, don't have one!!! Yeah, abortion proponent is telling us not to have an abortion. All in all, they were so outnumbered and so insignificant, their messages so pathetic and confused, I almost felt sorry for them.

danielle said...

Thank you for walking for life Secular Prolife. I have a new appreciation and respect for Seculars. You are awesome. Hope to see you again next year. I love your banner.

Monica Lynn said...

From what I understand there was a large pro-choice rally at the Justin Herman Plaza during the pro-life rally at the Civic Center, and it allegedly had 1,000 attendees, but most of them did not join the actual pro-choice counter protesters later.

Monica Lynn said...

Thanks! I expect SPL will be back next year again. :)

Yvonne said...

Thanks for taking part in the walk and sharing these photo's.

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