Given that the San Francisco Bay Area has a high rate of abortions, it’s probably surprising to many that for the last 11 years, there’s been an annual “Walk for Life-West Coast” that draws thousands of people from across the state, nationwide and indeed, even from Canada.

It’s taking place again, next Saturday, Jan. 24. The event is free and open to the public, with some events beginning on Friday.

The Walk for Life-West Coast began in 2005, as a grassroots effort by area residents who want to change perceptions and help people to realize there are positive alternatives to abortion.

The event has grown every year with more participants and more people in the program, speaking to the crowd and sharing their life experiences.

Following morning Mass, there’ll be the first, annual, Fr. John Malloy (SDB) 5-K Run for Life. Fr. Malloy was the founding chaplain for the Life Walk.

The race starts at Golden Gate Park and will be completed in time for the core of the day’s program, which begins with a rally at the Civic Center Plaza.

Eva Muntean, event co-founder and media spokesman, announced that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the pope’s ambassador to the United States, will be present and part of the program.

The official announcement from the office of Archbishop Salvatore H. Cordileone said the Papal Nuncio will read a message to the attendees from Pope Francis.

Ms. Muntean was quoted in Catholic-San Francisco as saying, “What an honor. We are so excited. This is the next best thing to having the Holy Father himself with us!”

Archbishop Vigano has been in that ambassadorial position since 2011, but the diplomatic post itself was established in 1893.

In addition to hearing from Jim and Joy Pinto, speaking of their pro-life ministry, the Rev. Clenard Childress will speak to the rally.

I’ve interviewed him, and his is a powerful message: “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

Rev. Childress is the founder and director of BlackGenocide.org – a website reaching out to African-Americans with the truth about abortion and the deaths of millions of black babies every year.

Julia Holcomb will tell of her experiences as a 16-year-old legal ward of Steven Tyler, lead singer of “Aerosmith.” At 17 she became pregnant by him, and at five months, she was coerced into a saline abortion.

She tells how it dramatically changed her life. She’s now actively pro-life, been married for 30 years and is the mother of seven children.

The featured speaker will be Rebekah Buell, who will tell her experience of taking the abortion drug RU-486, reversing it and giving birth to a healthy baby boy.

Following the rally will be the walk through the city and along the Bay. In addition, there’s a number of other activities, informational booths and events.

The website WalkForLifeWC.com has the details – as well as information on travel, parking and accommodations.

Needless to say, this being San Francisco, not everyone here likes the public display of support for people who would prefer an end to abortion.

Over the years, the antagonism toward the event has been across the board.

The most obvious has been the almost total blackout in local media. I’ve seen it myself – newspapers initially pretended it never took place and only reported on it if there were protesters. The same applied to radio and TV news. Apparently, they figured if they ignored the walk, it would go away.

It hasn’t; it’s only gotten bigger.

After a while, they relented. It became harder and harder to ignore that thousands of people were in the streets not causing damage, not insulting anyone, not doing anything except walking for a cause.

So media do cover the event – sort of – but very low key.

The walkers are told not to respond to jeering. There’s always a police presence, but there haven’t been any problems other than some heckling.

A couple of years ago, there were snide comments from some members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to the effect that such an event with such a point of view has no place in the city.

No doubt they were surprised at the negative response they got and they haven’t tried that again and generally stay away from media microphones!

So if you’re interested, look at the website – WalkForLifeWC.com – that’s “Walk-For-Life-West Coast,” and join the event.

It’ll be informative, revealing and will give you food for thought.

The biggest point is that every year in this country well over a million babies are killed in abortions, California and New York lead all other states and 82 percent are black and Latino children.

Statistics like that should give all of us cause to pause.

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