San Francisco's eighth annual Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 21 drew more than 40,000 pro-life supporters this year, up from just 7,500 participants in 2005.
“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.
The walk – held a day before the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion – began at the Civic Center Plaza in front of San Francisco's City Hall. Participants continued down the historic Market Street to the Justin Herman Plaza about two miles away and ended with a rally featuring speakers from across the country.
A 20x60 foot billboard advertising the walk along with a post abortion help line was erected at the entrance of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge weeks earlier on Dec. 31.
Fr. Aris Metrakos of San Francisco's Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church delivered the invocation for the event, saying that abortion “has shredded the moral fabric of our society.”
Speaker Dr. Vansen Wong shared his dramatic experience of performing abortions to pay his medical bills, saying he ended hundreds of lives during his seven years working at an abortion clinic.
“Abortion is barbaric, abortion is intolerable, abortion has no place in any civilized society,” he told the crowd.
Pastor and author Rev. Clenard Childress, who spoke at the first Walk for Life, sees the event as an opportunity 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,” he underscored.
African-American pro-life activist Lori Hoye agreed, calling the West Coast walk one of the “the greatest pro-life” events in the nation.
Other speakers at the rally included former Miss West Virginia, Jaquie Stalnaker, who told of being forced at gunpoint by her boyfriend to obtain an abortion.
Her boyfriend later abandoned her at the clinic and she lost half the blood in her body due to the procedure. She later survived recurring stage-four uterine cancer but was never able to conceive again.
As a regional representative today for the Silent No More campaign – an organization of women who regret their abortions – Stalnaker said, “It took me 22 years to be able to speak out about it. Now I talk about it wherever I go.”
She urged the crowd to talk to friends and family who support legalized abortion to visit the organization's website and hear stories from women who have suffered but found healing from their abortion experiences.
Local news ABC7 San Francisco reported a “handful of pro-choice demonstrators” at the event who voiced frustration over their small turnout. According to police, there were no arrests or displays of violence during the rally.