Over 35,000 pro-lifers took to the streets of San Francisco Saturday to show their support for "the least of these" and to mark a turning point in the battle against legalized abortion.
Though rain threatened to put a damper on the demonstration, the 6th Annual Walk for Life West Coast still drew a massive crowd that, after an hourlong rally, marched from the Justin Herman Plaza in downtown San Francisco, through Fisherman's Wharf, and to Marina Green, in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Among the participants of Saturday's event were former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson, college activist Lila Rose, and evangelical pastor Jim Garlow – all of whom fired up the crowd during the rally before the noontime walk.
"If you are here, you are an activist. We can no longer just say the words but must put our words into action," proclaimed Johnson, who worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years before having a change of heart in October following an abortion procedure she witnessed.
"The fact that we have allowed abortion in this great nation, the killing of the most defenseless and weak among us has resulted in the greatest human rights abuse I believe our nation has ever seen," added Rose, who took interest in abortion after being shocked by the image of an aborted fetus when she was 9.
Rose, a senior at UCLA and president of Live Action, came into prominence for her undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood clinics – many of which now post a picture of her at their facilities to alert their employees should Rose appear as she has at several clinics, posing as a pregnant teen.
From her investigations, Rose has exposed racism and sexual abuse cover-ups by Planned Parenthood staff, who have been caught on video and audio calling fetuses "just a clump of cells," "an inconvenience," among other terms.
"It is up to us to stand, raise our voices, and protect the smallest," Rose stated Saturday.
Started by a group of San Franciscans in 2005, the Walk for Life West Coast aims to affirm the right to life from conception to natural death and particularly to change hearts hurt by the violence of abortion.
This year's walk was held as recent surveys have found support for abortion slipping among most demographic and political groups, and as one found that over half (51 percent) of Americans now stand for the sanctity of human life.
The results of Gallup's May 2009 survey marked the first time since the polling group began asking the abortion question in 1995 that more Americans told them that they are pro-life than pro-choice.
The Pew Research Center, on the other hand, found that 47 percent of Americans it surveyed expressed support for legalized abortion and 44 percent expressed opposition. Still, Pew acknowledged the big drop in support over the past few years, noting that pro-choice Americans in 2007 and 2008 clearly outnumbered pro-lifers 54 percent to 40 percent.
Declining support for abortion was seen among men and women; whites and Hispanics; Republicans, Democrats and independents; and white Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and the unaffiliated.
The Pew Research Center suggested that the election of pro-choice candidate Barack Obama as president may have contributed to the shift in attitude.