The 18th annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco will be held Saturday, January 22, 2022, 49 years after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its Roe v. Wade decision, striking down the nation’s anti-abortion laws. The event features a 12:30 p.m. rally at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, followed by a peaceful, 1.8-mile walk from the Civic Center Plaza to the Embarcadero Plaza. Event organizers seek “to change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is an answer,” and “to be a vocal and visual message that people of the West Coast stand for life.”
The day includes a Silent No More Awareness Campaign 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. led by Georgette Forney and Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life. Through testimonials, people involved with past abortions will share the harm it has done to their lives.
Other related events on January 22 include a pro-life Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough Street, in San Francisco at 10:30 a.m. and an All Night Adoration for Life at Star of the Sea Parish, 4420 Geary Street in San Francisco at 5 p.m. Related events on January 21 include a Standing Up 4 Life Walk in the nearby City of Oakland with Walter Hoye, noon to 2 p.m.
While the pandemic lockdowns in January 2021 led to the cancelling of pro-life walks across the nation, organizer Eva Muntean said, the Walk for Life West Coast 2021 went ahead without any advertising or promotion. Fr. Joseph Fessio and Reverend Clenard Childress, the only speakers, addressed a crowd of 5,000 from the bed of a pick-up truck. “I was shocked we got as many as we did,” Muntean says, “and many people thanked us for not cancelling.”
While the January 2020 Walk for Life West Coast as well as previous years drew 50,000 participants, indicators are that the turnout for 2022 will be about half that. Muntean explains, “Many people still haven’t gotten over a fear of COVID and back into the swing of things.”
Among the regular participants who will be returning for the 2022 walk will be Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. It is important for him to participate, he explains, because “Walk for Life West Coast is one of the largest, most important pro-life walks in the country.”
The purpose of his participation is twofold, states Fr. Pavone. “I want to be with the people of the pro-life movement, giving them encouragement, as they give me encouragement. Also, I want to send the message to the nation that the pro-life movement is still here, and we’re growing and not going away.”
He will speak as part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign before the Walk, encouraging participants to listen to the stories of those adversely affected by abortion. “I also want to sound a note of hope and confidence,” he adds, “that we may be just months away from the reversal of Roe v. Wade. That’s a monumental prospect.”
Fr. Pavone is referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is considering the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law prohibiting abortion after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. A Court decision is expected to be announced in the upcoming months. Fr. Pavone notes that he expects some kind of a pro-life victory in the case, “but the question is how far will it go?”
New initiatives for Priests for Life, he says, included My Heart Beats Just Like Yours, an educational project detailing the development of the baby in the womb. The organization is also involved in a new Good Shepherd project to encourage clergy of all denominations to be advocates for Life.
While few turned out due to the pandemic last year, Fr. Pavone is optimistic that pro-life activists would again return to the streets in 2022. “With all the developments in the pro-life movement over the past year, I expect a strong comeback.”
Other speakers for 2022 include Lila Rose, a writer, speaker and activist who founded and serves as president of Live Action, a human rights nonprofit with the largest digital footprint for the global pro-life movement. Her investigative reporting on the abortion industry has been featured in many major news outlets, and she speaks internationally on family and cultural issues, and has addressed members of the European Parliament and has spoken at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She is author of Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World and is host of the podcast The Lila Rosa Show which explores relationships, faith, culture and politics.
Rose says she is excited to be part of the Walk for Life West Coast, saying, “What an honor to be in my native Bay Area, alongside my family, friends and neighbors, as we continue our fight for the most vulnerable – the pre-born babies in the womb.”
Christi Hockel Davenport, who has Down syndrome, will address participants as a witness “that people who have Down syndrome enjoy full and meaningful lives, and ought not to be considered disposable by society.” A nationally known speaker on issues related to Down syndrome, she is recently widowed, as her husband Austin passed away suddenly in May. She is the youngest child of a family of Catholic pro-life activists, is a teacher’s aide at a Catholic school in Dallas and is an actor with the Dallas Spotlight Theater Troupe. She is also a fellow of the Townsend Institute of Irvine’s Concordia University.
Irene Zamorano-Archacki serves as the Silent No More Awareness Coordinator for Los Angeles County; she “shares her late term abortion testimony to raise public awareness about the emotional, physical and spiritual consequences of abortion.” She serves on the Board of Directors for Vox Vitae, a Catholic pro-life organization, and as director of operations for Ascension Post, a postproduction company whose projects include the 2019 movie Roe v. Wade.
Reverend Clenard Childress has been a regular participant in the Walk for Life West Coast events since they began 18 years ago. He is a non-Catholic Christian pastor and pro-life activist, “with a special emphasis on eliminating the scourge of abortion from the African-American community.” He is assistant national director of L.E.A.R.N. Northeast (Life Education and Resource Network), founder of BlackGenocide.org and was extensively profiled in the PBS Frontline documentary “Anti-abortion Crusaders: Inside the African-American Abortion Battle”.
Reverend Childress notes that he became involved in the pro-life movement in 1998 at the invitation of a Catholic pro-life activist. He participated in the first Walk for Life West Coast, and has returned regularly because “the energy and vision I’ve experienced there must be duplicated throughout the country. When they call to invite me, I say, ‘It is an honor to be there.’”
Noting that he is a black pastor, he further observes, “It is important for African Americans to be part of pro-life activism, as we are disproportionately affected more than any other ethnic group.”
He believes that there has been more receptivity within the black community to the pro-life message in recent years, whereas previously it was widely dismissed “as a right wing or Republican point of division. It was so politically charged, you couldn’t even talk about it.”
He believes that the investigative work by such undercover journalists as David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress and James O’Keefe of Project Veritas in exposing the abortion industry “has helped raise consciousness” among many.
“The best kept secret in America,” he insists, “is black genocide: the pregnancies of 52% of African American women end in abortion, and there have been over 20 million abortions of African American babies since 1973.”
Event organizers encourage participants to use public transportation or park near the Civic Center Plaza or Justin Herman Plaza and use shuttle buses or public transportation to return to their vehicles. Participants are encouraged to register at www.walkforlifewc.com, and to visit the site for additional details.
(Editor’s note: This report was originally posted on January 4, 2022.)
• Watch a promotional video for the 2022 Walk for Life event:
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!