More than 40,000 pro-life activists and supporters participated in the eighth annual Walk for Life West Coast event in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday to celebrate life and proclaim, "Women deserve better than abortion!"
The crowd gathered at Civic Center Plaza in front of the San Francisco City Hall on Saturday morning for an "Info Fair," which featured music, speakers and activities for kids. The march began in the afternoon. The activists walked down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza at the Embarcadero, filling the length and breadth of the street.
State Assemblyman Mark Leno and Supervisor David Chiu spoke at the event.
The organizers had to change the route this year due to a scheduling conflict. The event normally starts from Justin Herman Plaza and along San Francisco's waterfront to Marina Green. Over 50,000 people were expected to participate in the event.
The pro-life event, just a day after Occupy San Francisco's "Day of Action," failed to draw more than a few thousand protesters. Police arrested a total of 23 protesters during that event.
This year, the pro-life walk coincided with protests by Christian and other religious groups against the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate, which requires them to provide insurance plans covering contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-causing drugs. "Despite the fact that certain drugs and devices approved by the FDA can work after conception to destroy a newly developed baby, the Obama Administration mandate still forces all insurance plans to carry these drugs and devices even if employers are morally opposed," Family Research Council Action's said a statement Friday.
The Walk for Life West Coast was founded in 2005 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area residents. According to the website, the walk's mission is to change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is the answer.
In 2005, over 7,000 pro-lifers showed up. Last year, the Walk for Life West Coast drew more than 40,000 people, a similar figure to this year's total.
The annual event is held on the Saturday on or near Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, on Jan. 22, 1973. The court ruled that a right to privacy extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion but also held that right must be balanced against the state's legitimate interests for regulating abortions to protect prenatal life and the woman's health.
Pro-life activists also held the annual "Standing Up 4 Life" walk in Oakland, Calif., on Friday. There will be a much larger March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Monday.