“A massive and diverse crowd of protesters rallied in front of [San Francisco] City Hall before marching down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza for the 10th annual “Walk for Life West Coast.” They chanted “Pro Life” and carried signs that read “Defend Life” and “Women deserve better than abortion.” San Francisco police did not immediately provide an official crowd estimate, but at one point marchers stretched across more than a mile of Market Street, the liberal city’s main thoroughfare.”
The size, energy, youthfulness and enthusiasm of this now-entrenched San Francisco event grows each year. Most remarkable to us New Feminists who have participated in this walk over the years is the disappearing presence of counter-protesters who, in the early years, threw red-water balloons, barricaded passage and thrust coat hangers as they angrily taunted us walkers – many of whom quietly prayed and pushed baby strollers.
Opponents to the pro-life presence in San Francisco sought to frighten, bully and shame those they defined as enemies – enemies of women. But it’s hard to sustain a movement fueled by anger and hostility – especially when directed at babies, families and peaceful people who value all lives. It’s hard to motivate people to spend their Saturday jeering and accosting elderly people walking with their grandchildren, devoted parents pushing disabled loved ones confined to wheelchairs and exuberant young throngs happy to be alive and celebrate life. Feminism was never intended to be a movement of angry women bent on creating options to destroy and eliminate “burdensome” lives. Feminism was born from women’s determination and passion for having a voice in nurturing, valuing and protecting all lives.
New Feminism – women celebrating life and their role in nurturing and protecting all life – was on beautiful display yesterday under sunny skies. The air literally sizzled with joy, happiness and gratitude. The occasional angry person shouting for “abortion without apology” seemed more akin to the city’s mentally ill homeless people than people with a considered point of view. In a such a joyous crowd, anger seems sad, pathetic. I was nearly tempted to offer a hug.
But the West Coast Walk for Life is no longer about pro-life opposition. It’s about the celebration of life by diverse people with both religious and secular appreciation for the unborn – many of whom carried signs personalizing their own reason for participating and celebrating life.
It was the Year of the Sign, 2014.
How to hold a sign for several miles is a challenge. Several people can hold the sign high, taking turns.
Or you can hold it low and pull it along with your other stuff.
You can put the sign around your neck and get your photo taken everytime someone takes a picture of your sign.
Or you can attach your sign to the wheelchair so your sign goes where your Grandma goes.
You can skip the sign all together and make a shirt with your message.
(I’m told Guard Life shirts might be for sale next year!)
There are secular pro-lifers – Monica Snyder of http://www.secularprolife.org/ spoke during the pre-walk rally.
There are religious pro-lifers.
But all the pro-lifers are happy.
The bulk of them – the generation of the New Feminist – are young!
There is always a sign that steals the day. This year, I found two. My final photo here was the last one of the day. I walked back to my car wiping away my own tears of joy and gratitude for the bravery of people who stand with life. Amazing.