By DEXTER DUGGAN
SAN FRANCISCO — Looking out at a sea of listeners filling City Hall’s expansive Civic Center Plaza here, a speaker compared the pro-life movement’s progress to where the civil-rights movement was in the late 1960s or early 1970s — a social force gaining enough clout that opponents try to buy it off.
Many of the tens of thousands present here for the Walk for Life West Coast rally and march on January 24 were keenly aware that national Republican Party leadership had just shocked Washington, D.C., by yanking a bill to restrict late abortions off the U.S. House calendar and replacing it with a weaker measure against abortion funding.
Veteran Baptist pastor and civil-rights advocate Clenard Childress Jr. told the California rally under a cloudless blue sky that people are offered inducements to back off.
Childress said that one of the greatest speakers he ever heard had described abortion as “genocide” shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court suddenly legalized it in 1973.
That was an intense young civil-rights leader named Jesse Jackson, who later switched over to supporting the permissive abortion system that disproportionately kills black babies.
“Jesse Jackson said it [was genocide] before he was dealt a card,” Childress said. “. . . This [pro-life] movement is going to be offered something” to buy it off, too.
“. . . This movement won’t take the card,” he continued. “. . . This movement will stand for every child. . . . They can’t shut you up.”
The 12:30 p.m. rally, which lasted a little over an hour, was followed by a 1.8-mile, curb-to-curb march down nearby Market Street, a major downtown thoroughfare.
Although it took many people a little over an hour to cover the distance to the Ferry Building destination on San Francisco Bay, people continued to walk under the balloon arch marking the end of the walk until nearly 3:30 p.m. because the line of participants was so long.
Some news organizations estimated the crowd as at least 50,000 people. Even the San Francisco Chronicle, northern California’s largest daily newspaper, which has become familiar for unfairly playing down the walk, made it the lead story this year on the local-news front page.
The annual San Francisco event is the largest on the West Coast but only one of many pro-life marches and rallies across the nation every January. They call for the end of the slaughter of tens of millions of unborn babies based on the unsupportable abortion law invented by a few unaccountable Supreme Court justices 42 years ago and cheered on ever since by dominantly pro-abortion news media.
The national March for Life, two days earlier in the nation’s capital, had estimates going as high as 700,000 people.
Immediately after Childress’ speech here, The Wanderer approached him and mentioned the Republican leaders’ surprising surrender on the late-abortion bill, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, in Washington, D.C.
“A perfect example of what I’m talking about,” Childress replied. “. . . I think we have Republicans that do not have the conviction. . . . They must see a people who, like Fr. [Frank] Pavone said last night, are walking in solidarity . . . that can’t be compromised.”
The Wanderer earlier on January 24 had interviewed Pavone, national director of the New York-based Priests for Life, on the same topic of the GOP surrender. Pavone was standing on the front steps of San Francisco’s St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral before the packed 9:30 a.m. Mass that helps start the day’s activities.
The bill’s being yanked “was a surprise and it was a disappointment,” Pavone said. “. . . We were ready to make this a centerpiece announcement” with the January 22 national March for Life.
“I think there is a lot of sensitivity about the rape question,” Pavone said, referring to a requirement that a rape be reported to authorities to allow for an exception for a late abortion.
“. . . But, whatever the technicalities,” they won’t stop the bill’s advance after legislators decide what to do, he said.
Pro-life politicians “have to have a tough skin with this,” Pavone said, adding that they have to fortify themselves for the fight while pro-life voters fortify their numbers by electing more of the same to office.
The politicians need “to have the backbone to defend the kind of fierce battle this is” and stop being defensive, he said, because worried pro-abortionists know that pro-lifers have the momentum.
Both pro-life activists and the politicians they elect need “the battle-readiness, the toughness” to continue, Pavone said.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, based in Alexandria, Va., which campaigns against the GOP establishment, issued a statement January 24 that said in part:
“House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and his leadership team were so worried about being called anti-women that they gave up on a pro-life bill that is supported by 60 percent of Americans.
“This is exactly why so many conservatives in this country are fed up with the GOP establishment in Washington. They surrender on every major issue because they’re afraid of being criticized by liberals. They have no backbone,” the statement said.
“This event was, however, instructive for the pro-life movement, which has a record of overlooking the serious failings of the Republican Party simply because it claims to be committed to traditional values,” it said. “This week, pro-lifers saw the GOP’s true colors.”
Among various dismayed commentators, online columnists Mollie Hemingway and David Harsanyi at The Federalist website quickly, strongly leaped into the fray on January 22.
Hemingway wrote: “What in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks just happened? It takes a special combination of incompetence and cowardice to miss an easy lay-up like this, but apparently the new Republican Congress has it in spades. . . .
“If Republicans can’t pass wildly popular legislation protecting innocent unborn children,” she said, “what’s going to happen when they face difficult legislative battles? It’s best to view this as a very simple test for House Republicans. A test they failed miserably.”
Also on January 22, Harsanyi wrote, “Evidently, Republicans don’t feel competent enough to make a case against infanticide. Why else would the GOP pull its 20-week abortion limit bill?”
Although Barack Obama continues to support unrestricted abortion for any reason at any time by anyone, even what amounts to infanticide, Harsanyi wrote, the Republicans can’t even get their act together on this bill.
“If the party representing the pro-life position, a party with a historic majority, can’t pull together a vote on an issue as unambiguous and risk-free as this one, what are the chances of it coming to a consensus and offering compelling arguments on issues like health care or tax reform? Very little, I imagine,” Harsanyi wrote.
It would seem the GOP leaders couldn’t have picked a worse season or day to yank the bill.
After pleading with the voters in 2014 to rebuke Obama and elect more Republicans so the GOP could set the tone, the party won exactly that situation, but brazenly betrayed its supporters.
And what worse time to do it than when Washington had hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists right in town. No need for long-distance pleading emails or phone calls. The activists practically were right on congressional doorsteps. With the betrayal fresh and bold, the pro-lifers could have packed politicians’ offices around the clock to demand the immediate end of the surrender.
Or did the GOP leadership know its supporters all too well? All these pro-lifers say millions of babies are being slain, but the protesters are still so darned patient and polite about it after decades.
Recall the biblical story of the unjust judge and the aggrieved widow. Let’s edit it a bit. The bad judge has murdered all the widow’s children and grandchildren and stolen all her possessions, so all she has left is to live in a sleeping bag under a railroad bridge.
Once a year the widow comes out to stand on the street corner for a day and say mildly, “This judge has wronged me.” Then she crawls back into the sleeping bag for another year. What possible reason would the contemptuous judge ever have to listen to her and reform himself?
Such lack of activism wouldn’t have served the civil-rights movement successfully. Nor does it shut down the modern abortion industry’s aim of killing off minorities.
A Racist Admission
The San Francisco rally speaker Childress, a New Jersey pastor, is founder of blackgenocide.org, which calls attention to the abortion war targeting black communities. Its entry page features a damning quotation made in a casual moment to The New York Times by liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2009:
“Frankly I had thought that at that time Roe was decided [to legalize abortion], there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
Apparently being a reliable liberal allowed Ginsburg to get away with making such a racist admission to a major media member that would have ended the career of a judicial conservative.
A relatively small group of a few hundred radical pro-abortionists named Stop Patriarchy has made a practice of standing along San Francisco’s Market Street each year to taunt the pro-lifers, but their numbers appear to be decreasing.
Eva Muntean, one of the walk’s co-founders, told The Wanderer on January 26: “I think they’re giving up. One gentleman who was standing by the pro-aborts said that when the pro-aborts saw us walking down the street, they said, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ I think our sheer size overwhelms them.”
During the Walk for Life West Coast activities, The Wanderer interviewed two women who had a close escape from abortion.
Vianca Dubon, 26, once was just one day away from having an abortion, but “I never went, thank God.” Instead she decided to call a phone number she was given to check out an alternative for her pregnancy.
She’d been thinking, “I have to do it [abortion]. I can’t bring a child into this world to suffer. . . . I was in so much crisis, I blinded myself. . . . Just giving me that number saved my daughter’s life, and it saved my life.”
Dubon explained that Planned Parenthood hadn’t told her “it was a baby,” but when she called the phone number and then had an ultrasound at San Diego’s Culture of Life Family Services, she saw, “My daughter was huge.”
Deciding to have her baby also gave Dubon a different way of looking at life after being distant from God and having served time in jail for drug smuggling, she said. “I’ve changed my whole way of seeing things” and turned her life over to God.
Sometimes people tell themselves they don’t want to intrude into another person’s problems, but that phone number had miraculous results.
“I see my daughter now and I think, thank God for that second chance. Thank God for all those people He put into my life.”
Another woman, Rebekah Buell, 20, told The Wanderer that she already had an 11-month-old baby boy, Elias, and was just starting the divorce process from her husband when she discovered she was pregnant again. She also was attending university, and the demands seemed too great.
Buell said she took the RU 486 abortion pill at Sacramento Planned Parenthood on March 13, 2013, when she was age 18, but immediately regretted her choice and started looking for an answer on her iPhone in the parking lot about 4 p.m.
She found a number to call for Culture of Life Family Services, which located a doctor who could start giving her reversal injections the next morning.
Buell received the injections for six weeks, was tested and was told she had a normal pregnancy. This was followed by the birth of Zechariah.
A lot of people asked me, what are you going to tell [the boys when they get older]?. . . I definitely think I’m going to explain to them why I sought out an abortion,” Buell said, telling The Wanderer that she believed she was pro-life, but thought she couldn’t face the second pregnancy by herself.
Now she does pro-life telephone counseling for other women facing pregnancy problems, she said, who seem to feel more confident once they learn what she went through.
Buell also is involved with starting a pro-life group at school. “I just really hope to get out a message, there’s hope for girls in crisis pregnancies, and who’ve even started the abortion process,” she said.
She brought both boys to the San Francisco rally and spoke energetically to the crowd, explaining that as soon as she got to her car after taking the abortion pill, “I felt intense regret” and apologized to God.
The director of the Planned Parenthood office later asked her on the phone why she hadn’t returned for a follow-up visit, Buell told the rally. When informed of the reason, the PP officer said it “was very risky” not to follow through with the abortion. Buell said that’s their standard approach, to discourage anything except completing the abortion, so “I did not listen.”
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone introduced Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who told the rally, “We know how difficult it is for our democracies today” to show respect for religious freedom and the unborn.
Viganò conveyed the Pope’s greetings and assurances of his closeness and prayer to those taking part in the Walk for Life West Coast.
Also speaking at the rally were:
— Julia Holcomb, who at age 16 became the legal ward of Steven Tyler, lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith. When she was more than five months pregnant with Tyler’s first child, he coerced her into a saline abortion. Now she speaks for the pro-life cause, has been married more than 30 years, and has seven children.
— Jim and Joy Pinto, who co-host radio and television programs on EWTN.
Muntean, the walk co-founder, told The Wanderer she was pleased with local media coverage this year.
“This year our local press did their most thorough job ever of covering the walk. The AP covered it. Our local ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates all covered the walk, and the SF Gate, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle, had a good, fair story with more than 20 good photos in their slideshow.
“One thing that would have helped . . . is that they should at least mention the walk the week before,” she said, “if for no other reason than to prevent the kind of gridlock and angry motorists we saw” who still have no idea the 11-year-old event occurs and they get stuck in traffic.
A major reason for that ignorance may be the way the printed San Francisco Chronicle drastically has played down coverage of what Muntean described as one of the city’s five largest annual events.
However, that changed this year when the newspaper made the walk the biggest story on the “Bay Area” local-news front page, as well as devoting most of an entire inside page to the continuation of the coverage.
The paper ran four color photos, including an impressive sweeping view of the Civic Center Plaza crowd all the way across the top of page C-6.
One could argue with some of the Chronicle coverage, including its failure to quote any of the rally speakers, but this year the hardcopy paper didn’t attempt to portray the small pro-abortion turnout as somehow equal to the pro-life tens of thousands.