Rain, politics don't deter tens of thousands at 20th annual Walk for Life West Coast

Singer Kaya Jones, second from left, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and other pro-life activists carry a banner during the 20th annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco Jan. 20, 2024. (OSV News photo/Jose Aguirre, courtesy Walk for Life)

SAN FRANCISCO (OSV News) -- Undaunted by rain and the dismal political outlook in California, tens of thousands of pro-life supporters turned out for the 20th annual Walk for Life West Coast in one of the most pro-abortion cities in the country.

"We stand because we know that life is greater than death. And human life is the future, pro-life is the future," Live Action founder Lila Rose, a Californian, told the crowd at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, many holding umbrellas against intermittent showers. "You truly, truly are shining lights in a dark city. California, our beautiful state is not the sum of ... the evil we have permitted here. There is so much good here and every single one of you are living proof of that."

Just months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion to the states, California voters in November 2022 approved Proposition One, a state constitutional amendment enshrining abortion as a right up until the moment of birth. After Roe was overturned, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, once mayor of San Francisco, began promoting California as an abortion destination.

"The situation we face has much darkness. When we look at the darkness in this state and our country it can be tempting to think that change is not coming, and that change is not possible. But we would be wrong to think that," said Rose, the founder of a human rights nonprofit with an international digital footprint which has made headlines for its investigations of Planned Parenthood. San Francisco has nine abortion facilities, and California has 150, Rose said, but she urged hope.

"There are thousands of pro-life families in California, and millions of pro-life people in California," said Rose, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles who is pregnant with her third child. More than 32,000 children have been saved from abortion in the U.S. since the June 2022 Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, she said. "So don't let anyone tell you that darkness is winning. Thirty-two thousand boys and girls have a future."

Twenty years ago, the Walk for Life West Coast was founded to bring a pro-woman, pro-life voice to the abortion debate in California and the speakers at the 2024 Walk rally continued that tradition.

Kaya Jones, a former girl band singer with the Pussycat Dolls, recounted some of her history of musical success, including winning a Grammy in 2019, but said it was marred by three abortions. Healing is possible with the power of God, she said, "Repent, forgive, love." Jones urged the crowd to pray with her for the pro-abortion protestors whose chants across the plaza punctuated the pro-life speakers' talks. "Pray for the people who are there. Lord, I ask you right now … that you would show them that life is the only way."

Jones first shared her story about her multiple abortions in a Twitter post in 2018 and told her story on camera in a January 2023 Students for Life of America Speak Out interview.

"The only way you get through it is to give it to God," Jones said in an interview ahead of the Walk for Life. Her goal is to reach and help young women in particular, but her heart breaks for men who also are suffering after abortion, she said.

She said she believes there is what she calls an "abortion demon" whose goal is to take women's babies. In the last couple of years, Jones said she prays constantly, fasts and listens to the Holy Spirit.

Also speaking at the Walk for Life was Kimberly Henkel, who with her husband adopted four children, founded Springs of Love, a ministry to equip Catholics to discern and live out the call to foster and adopt. She urged those at the rally to "say yes to helping vulnerable children in foster care or supporting a foster family and say yes to starting a Springs of Love chapter in your parish."

Before the crowd departed to walk along Market Street, the Rev. Clenard Childress Jr., a Baptist pastor, who spoke at the first Walk in 2005, and most since, told those present that God is with them. "No matter how depressing things get … give God a praise every day."

"He says I will be with you always … we will be victorious. We shall overcome. We are the people who God has chosen to live in these perilous times."

The day began with a Walk for Life Mass celebrated by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. The archbishop was joined in the sanctuary by Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa, and numerous priests helped distribute holy Communion to the packed cathedral. Priests heard confessions before and during the Mass at stations located around the cathedral.

Archbishop Cordileone also opened the Walk for Life rally at Civic Center with a prayer, thanking God for the victory of overturning Roe v. Wade and asking for help bringing respect for all human life to the whole country, praying, "Endow us with the wisdom, perseverance and determination to build a culture of life in our country so that abortion will be unthinkable and undesired all throughout our land."

Perhaps reflecting the fact that the abortion fight has now moved to the states, most of those at the San Francisco walk were from northern and central California.

Still, the Walk attracted college students from farther away. Students from St. Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California helped hold the Walk for Life banner on Market Street and students from Portland, Oregon, rode for nine hours, arriving in time for the Walk for Life Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. Oregon also has no legal limits on abortion. In Southern California this year, OneLife LA also was held Jan. 20.


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