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Walk for Life West Coast backed by popular Baptist preacher, Dr. King’s niece

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Catholic San Francisco) - The Walk for Life West Coast, the annual march against abortion that has drawn thousands of demonstrators to San Francisco every January since 2005, plays a growing role in America’s debate over the rights of the unborn, says a nationally known Protestant pastor who has been an ally of Catholic pro-life leaders from the outset of the event.

Pastor Clenard Childress, a Baptist minister in Montclair, N.J., and Northeast regional director of the Life Education and Resource Network, is scheduled to speak at the 4th annual Walk for Life West Coast on Saturday, Jan. 19.

“In an area that is more or less perceived as the bastion of all liberal thought, we find here a movement growing that one would deem to be conservative,” Childress told Catholic San Francisco. “I would just call it righteous.”

‘It’s good for the country’

Childress, who is active in the pro-life movement nationally, said the San Francisco march is his favorite pro-life action. He said it is diverse, touches many denominations and is nonpartisan.

“It’s good for the country,” he said. “I think it’s good for the people to see what the pro-life movement is. It’s the most maligned movement in America. The perception it has among Americans isn’t what it truly is. These are some of the dearest people who are very humble, who truly want to reach out to all mothers in order to save their children.”

Childress said the pro-life movement is “often viewed as a tool of the Republican Party.” He added: “When you go to San Francisco, you don’t get that.”

The march, which is held on the Saturday closest to anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, begins at Justin Herman Plaza at 11 a.m. and ends at Marina Green, where a mariachi band will perform and vendors will offer snacks and drinks. Organizers predict 20,000 people will participate. The first walk in 2005 drew 7,000 pro-life demonstrators and 3,000 opposing the event’s message. The 2006 and 2007 walks attracted 15,000 and 20,000 respectively, with smaller groups of counter-demonstrators.

Alveda King heads guest speakers

Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will help lead this year’s walk. In addition to her and Childress, other speakers will include abortion survivor Gianna Jessen; Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life; and Jesse Romero, radio personality and Catholic lay evangelist. According to planners, Eduardo Verástegui, the star of the movie “Bella,” has also been invited.

The West Coast walk precedes the 35th national March for Life, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan 22. That event will include a rally on the National Mall, a march to the Supreme Court and meetings with members of Congress.

In a Jan. 1 post on the Priests for Life blog, Father Pavone noted that 2008 is an election year and called for “massive efforts to register pro-life voters, to distribute the clear teaching of the Church (and of common sense ) about the absolute priority of the right to life as the issue in any and every election, and a massive get-out-the-vote drive when voting time starts.”

Childress said the presidential race is not something he intends to dwell on in his remarks at the West Coast walk.

“I focus more on the conscience of America,” he said. “When that is pricked, we will see a change.”

Critical pro-life issues at stake

This year’s walk comes at a time when California pro-life advocates are gathering signatures for a possible November initiative on family notification of a minor’s pending abortion. The proposed initiative, called Sarah’s Law, or the Child and Teen Safety Stop Predators Act of 2008, would require a doctor to notify a parent, or, in case of parental abuse, another adult family member of an unemancipated minor 48 hours before performing an abortion on her.

The Walk for Life West Coast culminates a series of local pro-life events marking the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

The 21st annual interfaith memorial service for abortion victims will be held at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. Father Pavone will speak along with Elder Walter Hoye II of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Berkeley. Representatives of 40 or more pro-life groups will place roses on a table at the bottom of the altar to remember unborn children who have been aborted.

The theme of the memorial service is “The Infant in My Womb Leaped for Joy,” a reference to the Gospel story of the pregnant Elizabeth’s experience of the Holy Spirit in the presence of Mary.

From 8 p.m. that Friday evening to 7 the next morning, an all-night adoration will be held at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in North Beach.

The Walk for Life West Coast website is


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of Catholic San Francisco (,official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Calif.



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1 - 1 of 1 Comments

  1. Royce Dunn, Director of Life Chain
    6 years ago

    Please provide Joey Hill's phone number regarding West Coast Walk for Life in January. Joey called to ask my assistance, but the phone number I have for him does not work. I need to talk with him about West Coast. Thank you,

    Royce Dunn

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