By Patrick Joyce
Eager young adults from across the nation and gray-haired pro-life activists from San Francisco gathered in front of the Planned Parenthood office on Eddy Street May 18 to pray for an end to abortion and to prepare for the young people’s cross-country walk to World Youth Day in Toronto.
San Francisco police officers outnumbered visitors to the Planned Parenthood office as nine members of Crossroads Pro-life Walk 2002 joined San Francisco pro-lifers in praying the rosary and singing “Holy Queen Enthroned Above” in front of the silent abortion clinic.
Two days later, the young people began a walk that will end in Toronto July 22. Along the way they will pray the rosary, visit abortion facilities, and talk to whoever will listen to their message: the sanctity and dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
Their San Francisco counterparts will return to Eddy Street next Saturday, as they do every week, to pray and witness to the same values. Eighteen-year-old Ree Latham came from her home in Birmingham, Ala., to San Francisco, the kickoff spot for the walk, sponsored by the American Life League. Why? “To sacrifice my summer to save the babies – and for the dignity of all life, from the womb to the tomb.”
“Our generation is being murdered. We should do everything we can to save the next generation,” said Ree, a student at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. A few hundred feet from the abortion clinic, Ree stopped to talk to a young man and woman on the sidewalk. “They told me they were going for prenatal care,” she said with a smile, acknowledging the irony of prenatal care from an organization dedicated to ending prenatal life.
“I showed them some crisis pregnancy center numbers and gave them some literature. I told them to try and hold on to it because they would take it away from them inside.” This was her first time doing sidewalk counseling. “I was very nervous,” she said, “but it was totally worth the effort.”
More than 200 young adults have participated in nine walks since 1995. Mark Thomason, 25, of Denver, walked from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. last year He is walking again this year.
“I really believe people need to be reminded there are babies in there,” Mark said. “I was born in 1976” three years after the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. “I’m a survivor. I think of all the people I’ll never meet from my generation – one-third I won’t meet….That makes it personal for my generation.” Katy Fusz, 19, of St. Louis, a student at Rockhurst University in Kansas City has participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., twice. This is her first cross-country walk. Why is she doing it?
“I believe in the sanctity of life,” she said. “I believe these babies are going to be amazing people – if they are given the chance of life….We need to pray. Prayer is the answer – prayer and sacrifice for the babies…everything is going to be offered up – for the mothers and the children.”
On Eddy Street, Katy spoke to two high school girls who said they thought “Planned Parenthood helped young people.” She told them Planned Parenthood “more harmed than helped” young people.
Abortion is the “hidden holocaust,” Carson Weber of San Antonio, Texas, the leader of the group, said. “Millions of individuals are silently taken off the face of the earth, without any voice.”
Carson, a graduate student in theology at Franciscan University in Steuebenville, Ohio, became involved in pro-life work as a student at Texas A&M University “putting fliers on vehicles and praying weekly” at an abortion clinic and doing “sidewalk counseling” of women coming to the clinic.
“It is interlinked with my faith,” he says. “I started going to daily Mass. Then a friend I knew from daily Mass asked me to go pray at a clinic. I was apprehensive at first but I went. When I got there I sensed a spiritual void. I had been to Dachau, the Nazi death camp, you could feel the evil. In the chapel I feel the presence of God. Here it was the presence of evil.”
In time, he said, “I came to realize there is nothing to be afraid of. We are called here as Christians – our home is in front of the abortion clinic. It should be a place of normal visitation….Christ is the light of the world, and Christ is seen through the Church. ” “Most of these women know they have a little baby inside them.” Carson said. “They are being misinformed” by Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates.
“Our culture has turned its back to the womb. It looks at who has money, who has power,” he said. “Pro-abortion organizations spend great sums of money to focus on the face of the mother while veiling what’s going on in the womb.”
Looking forward to the cross-country walk, he said, “I feel like a catechumen feels before he is baptized – excited, some anxiety. He knows it is going to bring joy but, if he is honest with himself, he recognizes it entails following Christ to the cross.”
On Monday, seven Crossroads walkers, accompanied by Jasmine Pomeroy of the archdiocese’s respect life office, began their walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Halfway across, members of the Bridge Patrol stopped them and demanded that they take off their Crossroads T-shirts, Ms. Pomeroy said. The front of the shirts say “PRO LIFE”; the back has an American flag on the map of the United States and the words: “Crossroads Pro-Life Walk 2002.”
Ms. Pomeroy said an officer told them drivers might be distracted by the T-shirts and that if there was an accident, the Crossroad members would be liable. After briefly protesting the order, the walkers removed the shirts and continued across the bridge For reasons that were unclear to the Crossroads walkers, the Bridge Patrol allowed them to continue carrying a statue of Our Lady across the bridge.
In Marin County, the walkers retrieved their T-shirts and headed for Napa on the first leg of a journey that will take them to Toronto to join hundreds of thousands of young people who share their commitment to human life.