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February 8, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
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Many East Bay parishes were represented at the Walk for Life, including the youth group from St. Margaret Mary in Oakland.

Tens of thousands rally at Walk for Life
Related Stories

MLK's niece shares family
secrets in support of unborn

Rain, protest don't stop
Stand Up 4 Life rally

Tens of thousands of people rallied in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza and then walked down Market Street in the 12th Annual Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 23, undaunted by intermittent rain, pro-abortion protesters who briefly disrupted one of the speakers or by traffic congestion due to the upcoming Super Bowl.

"They tell us the lie that women in order to have opportunities and in order for us be successful we must have abortion rights," said Obianuju Ekeocha, Nigerian founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, at the rally. Culture of Life Africa's philosophy is consistent with St. John Paul II's "theology of the body." It rejects international aid tied to abortion, sterilization and other anti-life initiatives.

Parishioners from Our Lady Queen of the World, Bay Point, braved the rain to attend the Walk for Life.

"I stand here before you not just as a black person or an African person. I stand here before you as a woman to say we should never have to buy success with the blood of our babies," Ekeocha said.

David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, whose undercover videos recorded Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of parts of aborted babies, was the first speaker at the one-hour rally at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco. The videos led Congress to vote to defund Planned Parenthood in January, and prompted Planned Parenthood to file a lawsuit Jan. 14 that charges the center, Daleiden and others with violating the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.

"The videos raise the biggest question that Planned Parenthood and their allies cannot answer," Daleiden said. "That is how on the one hand in our country the humanity of the baby fetus is not considered to be equal enough to our own in order to be totally protected by law. But at the same time it is precisely their equal and identical humanity to our own that makes them so valuable for sale."

Several pro-abortion demonstrators, who were behind the stage, briefly interrupted Daleiden's speech. They ripped off their shirts to display an obscene slogan written in black ink, and threw flyers on the stage before being handcuffed by police. The Sisters of Life, whose founder Mother Agnes Donovan had just received the walk's St. Gianna Molla award for pro-life heroism, tried to shield one of the three bare-breasted women from the men in front of City Hall taking photographs "and so they formed a rosary circle around her and were praying for her," said Martha Garza, sister of Eva Muntean, walk co-chair. One of the Sisters of Life, who asked not to be named, said later, "The heart hurts for them."

The women were charged with infractions of the city Park Code for baring their chests and disturbing the peace under the state Penal Cde and released from custody on Sunday, public information officer, Officer Albie Esparza said.

A counter demonstration of about 100 people was also along Market Street near the cable car turnaround, waving orange signs "Abortion on demand without apology."

At the Walk for Life Mass earlier at St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone referred to the videos and to California's new assisted suicide law saying, "The big question is, what does this say about us as a society? How can we do this to ourselves?" The archbishop tied respect for the Eucharist and respect for life together and called upon pro-life supporters to be Jesus' "light shining in the darkness."

During the walk rally, Archbishop Cordileone imparted Pope Francis apostolic blessing, sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio. In part, the letter read, "Pope Francis sends warm greetings and his assurance of his closeness in prayer to all taking part in the annual Walk for Life West Coast."

Other speakers included Rev. Clenard Childress who has spoken at almost every walk, beginning with the first in 2005. The rally concluded with Emmanuel Jesús Emmanuel Arturo Acha Martínez a musical icon in the Latin world.

MLK's niece shares family secrets in support of unborn

Eddie Clifford Beal III and his mother, Alveda King, speak at the Issues 4 Life fundraising dinner Jan. 22 in Walnut Creek. King is the niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

When Alveda King began speaking for the pro-life movement, she told about her own two abortions.

"You are Martin Luther King's niece," people would tell her, she said, "and that is embarrassing. That is putting your business in the street."

On Jan. 22, King was still telling those stories, in the hall of St. Stephen Parish in Walnut Creek, where she spoke to 130 guests at the fundraising dinner for the Issues 4 Life Foundation.

"God asked me to start telling all the secret business," she said. "Oh my, God. Really God?"

She asked her son, Eddie Clifford Beal III, who accompanied her, what her family said about her willingness to tell intensely personal stories.

"We all thought you were crazy," Beal said.

But Beal, who learned from his mother when he was 12 about the previous abortions, found out he, too, came close to not being born.

"Abortion has touched my family," he said. "In 1976, my mom got pregnant after her first marriage had ended. Her first instinct had been to have an abortion.

"A combination of my great-grandfather and my father convinced her to have me."

It was not the first time his great-grandfather, Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., had stepped in to save a baby.

Her mother, Naomi Ruth Barber King, had faced an unplanned pregnancy.

"She and Dad were engaged, but Mom wasn't ready to birth a baby," Alveda King said.

"She was going to get a D&C," she said. "They had procedures for mysterious female ailments. That's before they called us lumps of flesh and blobs of tissue. We were mysterious female ailments."

Naomi King's own story of the event was played on a video screen. She and her mother had consulted their pastor, who happened to also be the baby's grandfather.

"Abortion we cannot have," he told her. "The good Lord has shown me this child three years before she was born. This is the blessing I have been waiting for."

That blessing was not only standing in front of the audience, but celebrating her birthday.

"I'm 65 years old today, and I'm tired. I'm not quitting," she said to applause. "We need help."

She offered ways people could help.

"Pray first," she said. "You must and can give money. You can write letters to your elected officials. You can help the pregnancy care centers. You can do what we're doing."

She praised the work of the Bay Area-based Issues 4 Life Foundation, adding that founders Rev. Walter and Lori Hoye helped King find her voice in the pro-life movement.

She said the Hoyes' involvement in the National Black Pro-Life Coalition is crucial to its mission of drawing attention to the impact of abortion of communities of color.

Rain, protest don't stop Stand Up 4 Life rally

See the video at facebook.com/TheCatholicVoice

When a group of protesters tried to disrupt the annual Stand Up 4 Life rally in downtown Oakland on Jan. 22, they didn't count on Obianuju Ekeocha, whose impassioned speech carried above their chants.

Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist who works in Great Britain, would be heard over the clamor of a couple dozen protestors who identified themselves as from Stoppatriarchy.com. She did, after all, write an open letter on her iPhone to Melinda Gates last year, criticizing the Gates Foundation's funding of women's health initiatives in Africa.

"In Africa, where I come from, nobody believes abortion should ever be legal," Ekeocha said. "Nobody believes that the baby in the womb is not a person. Nobody believes that life doesn't begin at conception. Even in places in Africa where women don't have access to ultrasound, every single person in Africa knows and believes that the moment the child is conceived we are alive."

She was among a half-dozen speakers gathered by the Issues4Life Foundation, founded by Rev. Walter Hoye, for its annual noon rally the Friday before the Saturday Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

Despite rain and a line of protesters who attempted to put themselves between the stage and the audience, the speakers renewed the call to end abortion in America, with particular attention to the effect of abortion in communities of color.

The rally's principal speaker, Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said that her family was against abortion. She had two abortions and was contemplating a third, when her grandfather, Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. told her: "That's my great-grandchild."

"That great-grandchild," Eddie Clifford Beal III, now 39 years old, stood beside her.

With about a dozen uniformed Oakland police officers at the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall, the rally drew more than 150 people, including a group of children, part of a Southern California parish contingent of 28, and people with homemade signs.

"I'm pro-life," said Catherine Clark, "75 in May," who attends the Latin Mass at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland. She brought a folding chair, and protected herself from the rain with a poncho.

Other eager participants included 28 parishioners from St. Michael Parish, who traveled "in a couple of cars and a motorcycle" from San Clemente, said Jessica Kessler, 28. Kessler, who runs a pro-life organization called Go Love Life, led enthusiastic cheers of "We love life."

Catholic evangelist Richard Lane of St. Louis; Rev. Walter Moss of Canton, Ohio; and Rev. Clenard Childress of New Jersey, the founder of blackgenocide.org, spoke directly to the protesters.

"You dare come out and hold out a sign supporting that mutilation and you call it a civil right?" he said. "You don't know what a civil right is. We have a representative from the civil rights movement here. You heard the woman of a family that laid down their lives."

As the rally continued, and the protesters without amplified sound, they grew more quiet and withdrew. Some of their number included young people. A young woman who identified herself as Megan said she was a 15-year-old student at the Street Academy. She said she was earning community service credit for participating in the protest. "I came out to support abortion," she said. "People make mistakes. We need abortion. Look how young everybody is."

At the rally's end, Rev. Hoye led the group for a short walk along Broadway, and back up Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Police walked along, and stopped traffic for marchers at intersections. No incidents were reported.

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