‘To Offer a Vision of Hope’: Previewing Walk for Life West Coast 2023

San Francisco looks forward to championing the dignity of life on Jan. 21.

Walk for Life West Coast is looking to build off of its 2022 momentum; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will once again participate. He wll pray with pro-lifers at a Mass ahead of the annual walk.
Walk for Life West Coast is looking to build off of its 2022 momentum; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will once again participate. He wll pray with pro-lifers at a Mass ahead of the annual walk. (photo: Dennis Callahan)

A coast away from the Jan. 20 March for Life in Washington, D.C., and a day later, the annual Walk for Life West Coast, a major companion rally, will be held in San Francisco. 

Organizers look forward to drawing tens of thousands of marchers, as was typical before the pandemic, for this year’s 19th-annual walk on Jan. 21.

“Last year we were still coming out of the pandemic, and we only had about 15,000 people,” Eva Muntean, co-chair of Walk for Life West Coast, told the Register. “We expect to see our regular cohort of young people from all over, people from every race, creed and age, all united by the cause of life.”

She called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “monumental,” pointing out that while reports of thousands of fewer abortions have come in from places like Texas, each new baby is “a life of incalculable value.” The “overturning of Roe was not only a victory for the unborn, but it was a victory for American democracy as well, by allowing people in several states to decide.” At the same time, she sees much work yet to be done.

“What that means, as we saw in California and other states, is that people may decide not to choose life,” Muntean noted. “So for us, in California, Oregon, Washington, nothing has changed. We have to continue to be a voice for life, to proclaim that abortion hurts women, to offer a vision of hope. Abortion is caused by an abandonment of hope. We need to provide that. Roe stood for almost 50 years. It is now gone, thanks to the efforts of many people, including us, and we are not about to call it a day.”

This year’s walk is especially significant because California is not a pro-life state. In November, the state’s voters voted to pass Proposition 1, which amends the state’s constitution to protect abortion at any time and make it a fundamental right. Two months earlier, California’s governor started a billboard advertising campaign to invite women from states limiting abortion to travel to California to have abortions.

That’s why the walk is as needed as ever. Muntean said she and the others on the team have seen threefold reactions from pro-lifers. “First, elation at the Dobbs decision; second, [among Californians] disappointment at the failure of Proposition 1; and, third, renewed conviction to fight for both women and their unborn children. If Dobbs showed us that we can win, Prop. 1 showed us how much work we still have to do — and we are ready to do it.”

She listed highlights of this year’s walk that will include a special choral setting commissioned by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for the Walk for Life West Coast Mass to be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral the morning of the walk. It is composed by Christopher Mueller, and singers will include children from well-known St. Brigid’s School Choir. The work will include parts in English, Latin and Spanish. Muntean shared that Mueller said the archbishop “wanted a pro-life Mass to be written for children’s voices, to heighten the emotionality of the liturgy for those in attendance.” She said this Mass will be a great way to start the Walk for Life, kicking off spiritually a day with events that begin in the morning at the Civic Center Plaza and will include well-known speakers and a walk from the Plaza down Market Street to Embarcadero Plaza.

“For almost two decades, the West Coast Walk for Life has brought thousands of people from all over the Western states together to witness to the value and dignity of human life, whatever courts and politicians might say,” Archbishop Cordileone told the Register. “Friendships are formed, and so is the next generation of pro-life leadership. I’m so grateful to all who participate, and I look forward to doing so once again. This year, I’ve commissioned a special new Mass for Life for St. Brigid’s Children Choir to be sung at the Mass that precedes the Walk for Life at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The voices of the children calling us to respect all life will be an amazing new addition to a wonderful event.”

As one of the main speakers, Shawn Carney, the CEO, president and co-founder of 40 Days for Life, shared his thoughts with the Register about the importance and necessity of continuing these marches across the country. He called them “essential, especially locally, statewide and regionally, as abortion leaves D.C. and goes to where the pro-life movement is the strongest and the abortion industry is the weakest — the grassroots.”

Another main speaker, Rebecca Kiessling, an internationally known pro-life speaker and family-life attorney who was conceived in rape, reflected on the same idea. She told the Register, “Roe v. Wade was the basis for establishing a culture of death in this nation, which continues to perpetuate in the majority of states, and we cannot ever forget the tens of millions of babies who were slaughtered as a result. We commemorate Pearl Harbor Day, D-Day, the Holocaust, etc., even though the loss of life was from many decades ago” because those lives were precious. “A hundred years from now, our nation should still be remembering the lives lost through the horror of abortion.”

Looking ahead, Carney thinks “it would be exciting, over time, to move marches throughout the year, especially to the anniversary of one of the greatest days in American history — June 24, when Roe was overturned.”

He said, “We don’t commemorate Dred Scott, which created slavery, but the Emancipation, which freed the slaves, and I’d love to see our movement follow that model.”

At the Walk for Life, Carney said in his message he will tell people, “Don’t forgo the opportunity God has given us to be on the right side of history and end abortion in a post-Roe America. As Catholics, we should embrace the new crosses that the overturning of Roe created because they lead to ultimate victory.” He pointed out that of the 132 abortion facilities 40 Days for Life has closed, 132 of them were in pro-abortion states where abortion will remain legal.

“We can end abortion at the local level if we avoid the noise and focus on natural law, hearts, minds and souls,” he said. “That’s why women choose life and why abortion workers convert.”

Giving a preview of what her main message will include, Kiessling said, “We cannot relent in our pursuit to protect all human life. The No. 1 question brought up when discussing abortion is ‘What about rape?’ Every person who loves life needs to be able to appropriately answer this question. My goal is that every person present will know how to effectively defend all life — without exception, without discrimination.”

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 26, 2024, for a lawsuit brought by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM), which seeks to impose more restrictions on the prescription of mifepristone.

Pope, G7, Comedians and Skeletons and USCCB meeting and SCOTUS on Mifepristone (June 15)

The Pope, G7 and AI, celebrity comedians, the discovery of an unexpected skeleton and celebrating Big Bang Theory were among Vatican news items this week. CNA’s Hannah Brockhaus reports from Rome. Then Matthew Bunson covers the US Bishops spring meeting and CNA’s Ken Oliver reports on the Supreme Court’s rejection of pro-life doctors’ case against the abortion pill mifepristone.