SAN FRANCISCO-Tens of thousands of people crammed the Civic Center plaza on Saturday under a clear blue sky for a strong West Coast showing of support for the lives of unborn children.
The Bay area's ninth-annual Walk for Life came one day after a massive March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., and record crowds in rallies across the United States this past week. Protesters voiced opposition to 40 years and the millions of babies killed since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973.
San Francisco's gathering drew a diverse crowd of Catholics and evangelical Protestants with an appeal more to individuals and less to politicians-speeches came from a young, post-abortive couple, the mother of a disabled child, and Catholic leaders including Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Pope Benedict XVI's representative to the United States. Viganò called on listeners to counter a "culture of violence and death … by proclaiming the gospel of life."
Speaker Lacey Buchanen, 25, shared about her son Christian, born two years ago with a cleft lip palate and blinding cleft eyes. Many told Buchanen and her husband they should have aborted, leading Lacey to record a video with her phone and post it to the Internet, "telling people how grateful I am for Christian." The video went viral last May.
"Thousands of lives have been impacted by Christian," Buchanen, now pregnant with her second child, told a cheering crowd on Saturday. "I stand here today to say you will not regret choosing life."
Donning a red knit beanie, a beaming Christian took to Market Street with his parents and a host of sign-wielding college students, teens, and young families. They danced to beating drums, chanted Hail Marys, and sang worship hymns as they passed the city's poorest area, called the Tenderloin, with its dollar-stores, strip clubs, and rappers on the streets. They walked past the massive shopping malls of Union Square and the towering buildings of the financial district.
Veronica Dela Funte, 19, marched with her friends from the University of California Davis. Wearing pink wayfarers and holding a black sign emblazoned with the words "Courageously Abolishing Abortion," she called the number of young people in the crowd "empowering." Dela Funte declared,
"My generation is going to be the one that overthrows abortion," Dela Funte declared.
Juan Nguyen drove his two teenage children from Sacramento to see other young people like themselves taking a stand for life. "I hope they are encouraged to make the right decisions," the 39-year-old father said.
After the two-mile march, the crowd streamed onto the lawn across from the Ferry Building, where earlier in the day hundreds of pro-abortion protestors held a rally officially endorsed in December by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. About 50 protesters lingered by the afternoon. Walk for Life organizer Eva Muntean said counter-protests are typical: "San Francisco has one of the highest abortion rates. We expect opposition. We do it here because it is needed so badly."