The Eighth Annual Walk for Life West Coast will take place in San Francisco this Saturday, Jan. 21. Event leaders say they hope to bring healing to those who have suffered from abortion, while also being witnesses for those who have died.
“We basically want people, in the Bay Area especially, to know that women who are hurting from abortion can have help and healing from their pain,” Eva Muntean, a co-chair of the event, told EWTN News on Jan. 17.
“There are organizations and groups available to help the women who are hurting.”
San Francisco has one of the highest abortion rates in the country, Muntean said.
The first walk, which took place in 2005, had 7,500 participants. Their numbers have “steadily grown” through 2011, when organizers estimated 50,000 people attended.
“It definitely has momentum. It grows every year. People get so energized when they come. They go back home, they tell their friends, they form groups, they plan for the whole year.
Participants come from throughout the Bay Area and the western United States.
The Walk for Life does not have a mandatory registration process so Muntean could not predict attendance for this year’s event.
The walk will begin at Civic Center Plaza in front of San Francisco City Hall with a pro-life information fair. A rally will follow at 12:30 p.m.
The invocation for the event will be delivered by Fr. Aris Metrakos of San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
“Abortion-on-demand has shredded the moral fabric of our society,” he said.
The walk itself begins at 1:30 p.m. Its course runs down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza.
EWTN will broadcast the walk live on television, while Immaculate Heart Radio will cover the event on radio.
Rally speakers include Rev. Clenard Childress, African-American pro-life activist Lori Hoye, former abortionist Dr. Vansen Wong and Silent No More representative Jacquie Stalnaker.
Hoye called the Walk for Life “the greatest pro-life event there is.”
“I am blessed to be a part of it, and to share that no matter how bad you think it is, no matter how much you are hurting, God will find a way.”
Stalnaker, a former Miss West Virginia, underwent an abortion after her then-boyfriend drove her to a clinic with a gun on the floor. He threatened to kill both her and her baby if she didn’t have the abortion.
The boyfriend abandoned her while she was in the clinic. Her abortion caused her to lose half of the blood in her body, according to Silent No More. She later survived stage-four uterine cancer and a 25-pound tumor.
“It took me 22 years to be able to speak out about it,” she said. “Now I talk about it wherever I go.”
She said she wanted to deliver a message of hope and healing” to those who “grieve the loss of parenthood.”
Rev. Childress, an African-American pastor, activist and author who spoke at the first Walk for Life, said the event is “a chance to testify in the public square on behalf of those whose voices are silenced before birth.”
“Abortion has victimized women and decimated the African American communities. All other travesties pale in comparison.”
Muntean said attendees represent “a cross-section of mankind.”
“What warms my heart the most is that we have so many young people. We have high school groups, we have college groups, we have young families. We have many, many children. It’s always so great to see the number of strollers that are at the events.
“And of course we have those in the wheelchairs, the elderly.”
The walk’s presence will contrast with local activism from pro-abortion rights groups.
Banners bearing slogans like “San Francisco is Pro-Choice” are presently hanging on San Francisco utility poles under the sponsorship of the group the Silver Ribbon Campaign. The Life Legal Defense Foundation has charged that the banners violate city policy.