After a rally in front of Oakland City Hall, the StandUp4Life group begins its march through downtown Oakland. More photos at facebook.com/TheCatholicVoice.
ALL: MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Father Frank Pavone
Rev. Walter Hoye
Rev. Clenard Childress
Pastor Bruce Rivers
Speakers exhort Oakland at pro-life rally
"We need public servants who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public," Father Frank Pavone told the noonday gathering in the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall on Jan. 26.
Hoye had been arrested on the sidewalk in front of the abortion provider in 2008. He faced a two-year jail term for violating the Oakland "bubble" ordinance, but was sentenced to 30 days in jail. On appeal, the charges were dismissed.
The 11th annual StandUp4Life rally, sponsored by Rev. Walter Hoye's Issues4Life Foundation, was buoyed on many fronts: a president of the United States who has pledged to advance a pro-life agenda; recent polls, including a Marist Poll that found Americans of all political persuasions favor substantial abortion limits; and locally, the closure of the Family Planning Specialists Medical Group in Oakland.
While Rev. Hoye's Oakland rally, on the Friday before the West Coast Walk for Life, draws a smaller crowd than its San Francisco counterpart, a trio of nationally recognized pro-life leaders delivered messages of hope.
"This is not the city for those who want the unborn to be killed, who think abortion is some kind of right" said Father Pavone, head of the national Priests for Life ministry. "It is the American people who live in these cities. As polling continues to tell us, the American people are pro-life."
Pro-life is natural, Father Pavone said. "You don't have to learn how to be pro-life," he said. "You've got to learn, study, practice how to be pro-choice."
But he cautioned against demonizing those who work in the abortion clinics. "They are not the enemy," he said. "They are captives of the enemy."
A similar theme was echoed by Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life. During the twice-yearly vigils outside abortion clinics, Carney said, they appeal not only to people entering the clinics, but those working there.
He described "a huge disconnect" between those who run the abortion industry from New York City and Washington, DC, and those who do the grim work in the clinics nationwide.
"We are there to represent the joy and mercy of Christ to those who are working in the living hell that is an abortion clinic," he said.
Rev. Clenard Childress, the New Jersey Baptist pastor and founder of blackgenocide.org, told those gathered that "your time has come."
"In this time, don't slow down," he said. "Recognize that there are children yet to be born that are depending on your faithfulness."
Noting that he was speaking in Oakland, the home of the Black Panthers, Childress said, "the will to address injustice is the same."
With an escort from Oakland Police Department officers on bicycles, the rally marched peacefully through several blocks of downtown before returning to the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall. A beautiful voice rose above the rest, singing "We Shall Overcome."
Alveda King: Hoye's work 'sacrificial'
Nine years ago, Rev. Walter Hoye went to jail for violating a "bubble law" for protesting in front of an abortion clinic, a violation later struck down by the courts.
On a webcast broadcast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Hoye was able to share the news that the place where that protest occurred, Family Planning Specialists Medical Group, had closed its doors.
The doctors who ran the clinic for 33 years have retired, according to a post on the medical group's website. This is the eighth abortion business to close in California within the last year, pro-life advocates say.
For Hoye, the news came as part of a broadcast to help keep his Issues4Life Foundation doing its work, primarily in educating black pastors and in drawing attention to the disproportionate number of abortions performed in communities of color.
Rev. Hoye's Issues4Life Foundation set a modest goal — 100 new supporters at $20 a month — for the webcast, which drew leaders of the pro-life movement, including Alveda King, the niece of the man whose birthday was celebrated that day.
"I am so blessed and so delighted," she said, noting that Rev. Hoye introduced her to the technology of the millennials.
"Walter and Lori are both sacrificial people," she said. "They've both sacrificed."
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco said, "I remember so well" meeting Walter and Lori Hoye, "witnesses to the sanctity of life."
"He was going to trial," the archbishop recalled. Still, he found "such a peace about him."
In April of that year, on his way to Oakland, where he had been named bishop, he stopped at Santa Rita Jail to visit Hoye. "We had a prayerful visit," he recalled. The phone connection wasn't working. He and his "brother in Christ" had "to yell through the glass."
Abby Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager who left her post and has founded Then There Were None, which helps other abortion workers leave the industry.
"There is no ego," she said of Hoye. When handed a "humongous rosary" at a rally, she said, he prayed along.
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life noted that "nonviolence is not nonviolence if you tolerate some violence." He emphasized the importance of the black community in the pro-life movement. Organizations such as Hoye's, Father Pavone said, know how to mobilize against injustice.
Bishop Ronnie Allen of Sacramento attended Hoye's gathering for black pastors and their wives last year. "Oh my, was that a life changer!" said Allen.
He said he had "no idea" of the harm abortion has been causing in the black community.
"Walter and Lori are the epitome of love," he said.
Ash Wednesday marks start of 40 Days for Life vigil
sThe 40 Days for Life campaign is preparing for its spring campaign on the public right-of-way in front of the Planned Parenthood office in Walnut Creek.
The vigil will begin Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday — which is also Valentine's Day. "We will be standing and praying peacefully from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Sundays," said Linda Mertes, coordinator of the Walnut Creek campaign. The vigil will end March 24.
The vigil in Walnut Creek is one among hundreds scheduled in cities across the United States and in two dozen countries. Since 2007, 40 Days for Life participants report 13,305 lives saved from abortion during a campaign.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has endorsed participation in the peaceful vigil. "We are called to be a voice that calls out to mothers and fathers dealing with a difficult pregnancy to know they have support and an alternative to abortion," he wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to priests, deacons and laity of the Diocese of Oakland and "to all people of good will."
Sign up to participate in the 40-day vigils at 40daysforlife.com/walnutcreek. Questions may be sent to Friendsforlifetrivalley@gmail.com.
The group keeps vigil year-round on Fridays, the day surgical abortions are performed in Walnut Creek, Mertes said. "We have had many beautiful encounters, including one with a couple last week who decided to have their baby," Mertes reported last month.
The participants in the vigil offer brochures to those entering the clinic. The brochures feature contact information for pregnancy centers and other organizations, such as Birthright and the Gabriel Project, that stand ready to assist them.
Sign up for the Friday vigils at www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4faea.
Before the vigil begins, a kickoff rally will be held Feb. 11 in the parish hall at St. Mary Parish, 2039 Mt. Diablo Road, Walnut Creek. The gathering begins with appetizers at 1 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m., Dr. Haywood Robinson will speak about his conversion story from abortionist to 40 Days for Life board member.
Young people carry a banner during the 14th Annual Walk for Life West Coast Jan. 27 in San Francisco.
JOSÉ LUIS AGUIRRE, WALK FOR LIFE WEST COAST
Pro-life walk draws tens of thousands to SF streets
SAN FRANCISCO — Smiling and singing "Amazing Grace" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," hundreds of high school and college students led tens of thousands of pro-life supporters along San Francisco's Market Street in the 14th Annual Walk for Life West Coast.
The event, which begins each year with a rally in the Civic Center, is followed by the walk from City Hall to the wharf behind a street-wide banner that proclaims, "Abortion Hurts Women." This year the Walk for Life was held Jan. 27, one week after more than 50,000 pink-clad participants in the Women's March converged on the city's downtown streets.
Eva Muntean, the pro-life event's co-chair, wore a pink shirt for the Walk for Life, saying she was "taking back pink," which supporters of legal abortion have made their signature color.
"We are here to take back the narrative that abortion is a right," Muntean told the crowd from the stage in front of City Hall.
For many, the day began with a packed Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, where San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone began his homily by noting that the U.S. Congress has been debating the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The U.S. House Jan. 19 passed the measure, which prohibits a health care practitioner from allowing the death of a baby born alive during an abortion or an attempted abortion.
It requires health care personnel "to exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and ensure that such child is immediately admitted to a hospital." The House passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 241-183; the U.S. Senate vote failed Jan. 29.
"Amazingly, but I suppose not surprisingly, there are people who actually oppose giving the same protections to these infants that all other children enjoy who are outside of the womb," Archbishop Cordileone said.
At the walk, co-chair Dolores Meehan urged participants to contact their state legislators to oppose a California Senate measure that would require every state college and university student health center to stock the abortifacient RU-486; the legislation is on a fast track to passage.
"We don't want our centers of learning to become centers of killing," Meehan said.
The Walk for Life West Coast was founded on the Feminists for Life of America slogan and principle that "Women Deserve Better Than Abortion," and one of the speakers in particular brought that point home.
"In this sanctuary city also known for bridge-building, we are all stating loudly that we want our neighbors to consider the womb a sanctuary for the unborn members of our human families," said Dr. John Bruchalski, founder of Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Virginia, an OB-GYN practice named for the hill where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to a poor Indian, St. Juan Diego, in 1531.
The faith-based practice provides "excellent medicine" to women without regard to financial situation, belief or background.
Abortion does not just hurt women, and kill babies, "abortion also hurts the providers who provide that service," Bruchalski told the rally at the Civic Center in San Francisco. Bruchalski performed many abortions as a resident before realizing its harm. He said abortion darkened and hardened his heart before he was reconverted to his Catholic faith.
"As a doctor who knows that abortion hurts women," he said, "I want all the young people here (to know): We need you. We need you to enter and return medicine back to the prolife movement. That's a practical way you can make a difference.
Other speakers at the walk included Terri Beatley of the Hosea Initiative, which is dedicated to continuing the pro-life work of the deceased "father of the abortion movement" Dr. Bernard Nathanson; after performing 60,000 abortions by his own estimate, Nathanson had a change of heart and became a prominent opponent of abortion.
Also addressing the crowd was Joseph Scheidler, founder of Pro-Life Action League, who received the Gianna Molla Award; and the Rev. Clenard Childress, the walk's traditional closing speaker. Rev. Childress spoke at the first walk and at almost every one since.
Founded in 2005 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area residents, the Walk for Life West Coast's mission is to change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is an answer.
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