Another year, the 10th to be exact, just this last Saturday on a beautiful warm California day, the weather was great, the message was the same, and so was the response from the mass media and the San Francisco City government. Hopefully there will be some who received the message sent out loudly by thousands and thousands of people who spent their Saturday walking in public to declare that abortion is wrong. I proudly walked with these people down Market Street from Civic Center Plaza, center of city government, to San Francisco Bay and the Historic Ferry building.
Significant Ending Place for The Walk
The Ferry building still stands from 1898 and is a fitting reminder of an era when there were no bridges in San Francisco Bay to carry people from the peninsula that juts up from the south along the Pacific coast. They could travel to points north across the bay to other parts of California north and east without having to go around the southern end of the bay first. This building also is a symbol of an era that existed before 1973 and the Roe v Wade decision that decriminalized and encouraged American citizens to destroy their offspring. It is an era that refuses to die, just as these tens of thousands of concerned American citizens refuse to give in to intimidation by government and the misunderstanding of how and why human life is created.
The new bridges built in the late 1930’s which provided rail and automobile traffic across the bay just about killed ferry travel. The building survived the 1906 and 1989 earth quakes with little damage. A freeway built in the late 1950s in front to the Ferry building caused a controversy in the city because it blocked the view of the building, was so badly damaged in 1989 that it was torn down. Ferry traffic continues to this day despite the building of another almost complete duplicate Bay Bridge from Oakland that parallels the older one, now unused, built about 38 years later. Ferry traffic today is very popular with many routes despite the millions spent to replace it’s purpose.
The Mass Media This Year
The press coverage before, during and after the Walk was minimal, with several online news companies running the Associated Press story or the one from PR Newswire. As usual, there were familiar lines about how the 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 Sacramento Bee reported, “These releases reflect the views of the issuing entity (PR Newswire) and are not reviewed or edited by the Sacramento Bee staff.” Does this statement mean that mainstream news is now considered to be a personal viewpoint? Or does it mean that newspapers now require their readers to do the editing that was formerly the job of well paid employees?
One of my favorite quotes comes from the NBC TV affiliate in San Francisco. “Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in San Francisco Saturday for an anti-abortion march and rally, and it’s affecting traffic in the city.” Other ominous warnings about “sluggish traffic” and “heavy traffic” and “slow traffic” and “impact on traffic” just about exhausted the traffic adjectives available. A couple of sentences stand out though. “Early Saturday, a massive crowd gathered at Civic Center Plaza for an anti-abortion rally before marching down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza. […] A much smaller group of about 100 pro-choice demonstrators gathered at Powell and Market streets…” One would hope that the meager attention given to these important facts by all media outlets except pro-life ones, would prompt a thinking person to consider the importance of this march to our society.
The City Government Reacts
The Walk for Life committee hung about 50 banners on Market Street lining the parade route which started a debate in the city. The ABS TV affiliate in San Francisco started the story about the upcoming march and a controversy that developed with, “When is free speech, hate speech?” Then continued, “Supervisor David Campos says the banners on city-owned property are spreading misinformation about abortion and city policy…we respect their right (women) to decide for themselves and we’re going to protect that right. He has sponsored a resolution asking for a review of the criteria for accepting ads and to determine if the banners violate city law.” This response is presumably using the same logic that came from Ellen Shaffer, co-director of the Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign, “The truth is that abortion is one of the safest procedures women can have.” This reasoning intends to focus on the procedure itself declaring it medically safe as instruments tear away body parts of a human being residing inside a patient and income stream that the Right-to-Life marchers call a mother.
What We Hope For the Future
This kind of reaction to the walk made by an increasingly larger proportion of young people giving their energy, time and money to present this witness to life, will hopefully some day be better analyzed by the mass media. The walk deserves better and more intelligent attention. From government, the walk certainly deserves a respect for what was once a citizen’s right to express himself in public. This is our heritage, this is what we once believed in, this is what the Ferry Building is showing us—what is good does not have to die.