The Comfortable Pro-Choice People

Last year before the San Francisco Walk for Life, Monica (SPL co-leader) gave a brief speech about “comfortable” pro-choice people, essentially outlining the most ubiquitous myths that allow people to be comfortable with the pro-choice political position. [And she did this speech before pro-choice people started insisting embryos don’t have hearts.] You can watch the video here and/or read the transcript below. Sources are linked in the transcript.

My name is Monica Snyder, I’m an atheist, and I work with Secular Pro-Life. And normally I do discussions about diversity and inclusivity and fact-based research, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. I have been thinking a lot about—I’m pretty fed up, actually. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

I’ve worked with Secular Pro-Life for 10 years. I’ve had many, many conversations about abortion—some of them have been very good. I’m always happy to have thoughtful dialogue with people who are interested in exploring each other’s views. Even if we’re not going to change minds, I’m happy to have thoughtful dialogue.

Kinda over the other kind of conversation though—and by that I mean conversations with who I’ve started to think of as the casual, comfortable pro-choice person. And by that I mean people who—this isn’t a top political topic for them; it’s not something that they know a lot about or dig into a lot, but they still identify as pro-choice because they’ve picked up on the idea that that is the right side to be. The right side of history, the side of progress and freedom of religion and equality. And so even though they don’t know a lot about the situation, it doesn’t stop them from being kind of scandalized that I think…whatever it is I think, they don’t actually have any idea, but it probably involves hating women or something. And so they sort of clutch their pearls at the fact that I’m against abortion. They talk to me as if I owe them an apology or an explanation, even as they say many nonsensical things that they can’t back up in any way.

So, for example, many people have no understanding of American abortion law. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that abortion is illegal after the first trimester. That’s not true literally anywhere in the country. Even in the most restrictive state—Mississippi—you can get a non-medical abortion until the 5th month, okay? They think that anti-choice forces are bringing us into the dark ages. They don’t realize we have some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. We are 1 out of only 7 countries where it’s legal to get a non-medical abortion after 20 weeks—right there with North Korea and China. They don’t realize that Roe v. Wade makes us this way. They think that all Roe v. Wade did was made abortion a legal option. Actually what it did was make it almost impossible to have any kind of restrictions before viability, which is about 6 months into the pregnancy.

And even if they believe me when I tell them that, it doesn’t shock them because they don’t know anything about fetal development at 6 months into the pregnancy! These are the same people who will tell me that biology—not philosophy—biology doesn’t tell us when life begins, which is complete anti-science nonsense. They’ll use the phrase “clumps of cells” as if we’re aborting amorphous spheres of genetic material instead of small humans with heartbeats and brain waves and organ systems. And if you show them video footage of Planned Parenthood harvesting those organs, they’ll just say “Heavily edited! Heavily edited!” over and over again, even though there’s no evidence that part was heavily edited. They don’t know what they mean when they say that. There’s no evidence of audio manipulation, and Planned Parenthood itself doesn’t even deny that they take organs from late-term fetuses. But sure, they’re taking brains and livers from “clumps of cells.”

And if they believe that part, they still think that it’s only because late-term abortions are done for severe medical reasons. So even if, yes, they take those, it’s from a tragic situation that had to happen anyway so at least it’s useful, right? Unfortunately, the research actually shows that even at 21 weeks or later, 80% of these abortions are not done for health-related reasons. It is a pleasant fiction to think that we are tearing children apart limb from limb only in the most tragic and dire situations. The reality is far less…comfortable. We even have abortion providers—and they’ll talk openly, in interviews, publicly, about how in third trimester they will abort healthy, viable babies. But the comfortable pro-choice people don’t want to talk about that, or hear it at all.

And even if they believe me when I point out that we’re killing small humans, that are abortion laws are insane, and that late-term abortion is not usually for health reasons, what is the comfortable pro-choice person supposed to do? They can’t be on our side! We’re the side of the old, rich, white conservative Christian men, right? Unfortunately that’s not really real either. Actually young people are just as likely to be against abortion as our parents and our grandparents. Poor people are more likely to be against abortion than rich people. Latinos are more likely to be against abortion than white people. And it’s true that we skew conservative and Christian, but 1 out of 5 Democrats is against abortion. 1 out of 5 non-religious people is against abortion. And what about the men thing? Everyone’s heard the “war on women” trope, right? All of the highly educated empowered women are fighting to control their bodies while regressive religious men are trying to stop them, right? Right? NO! Actually women are just as likely as men to be against abortion. There are literally tens of MILLIONS of American women against abortion! And when I point this out you see their true feminist colors, because then the answer is it must be that I am an internalized misogynist! I couldn’t possibly be against abortion because it’s destroying millions of humans! It must be because I hate myself. What a convenient, comfortable theory so that you don’t have to think too much about this. Everyone who disagrees with you is just deep-seated prejudice, right?

The reality is that I am a young, atheist, pretty broke, Millennial woman who is strongly against abortion, and I am standing right HERE! So stop acting like I don’t exist!

So all I ask is that if you’re going to defend our insane abortion laws, at least own what you’re defending. The inconvenient truth is that we’re killing small humans, our laws are insane, and we do late-term abortions even for non-medical reasons. And if you own that in your position, you’re not the one I have a problem with, because you’re doing it with eyes wide open. But if you are comfortable being pro-choice because you bury yourself in euphemisms and nonsense, then I ask you to step up. If you really want to defend this, do it with eyes wide open. That’s all I’m asking, thank you.

SPL banner at the Walk. Click to enlarge.

The Comfortable Pro-Choice People

Last year before the San Francisco Walk for Life, Monica (SPL co-leader) gave a brief speech about “comfortable” pro-choice people, essentially outlining the most ubiquitous myths that allow people to be comfortable with the pro-choice political position. [And she did this speech before pro-choice people started insisting embryos don’t have hearts.] You can watch the video here and/or read the transcript below. Sources are linked in the transcript.

My name is Monica Snyder, I’m an atheist, and I work with Secular Pro-Life. And normally I do discussions about diversity and inclusivity and fact-based research, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. I have been thinking a lot about—I’m pretty fed up, actually. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

I’ve worked with Secular Pro-Life for 10 years. I’ve had many, many conversations about abortion—some of them have been very good. I’m always happy to have thoughtful dialogue with people who are interested in exploring each other’s views. Even if we’re not going to change minds, I’m happy to have thoughtful dialogue.

Kinda over the other kind of conversation though—and by that I mean conversations with who I’ve started to think of as the casual, comfortable pro-choice person. And by that I mean people who—this isn’t a top political topic for them; it’s not something that they know a lot about or dig into a lot, but they still identify as pro-choice because they’ve picked up on the idea that that is the right side to be. The right side of history, the side of progress and freedom of religion and equality. And so even though they don’t know a lot about the situation, it doesn’t stop them from being kind of scandalized that I think…whatever it is I think, they don’t actually have any idea, but it probably involves hating women or something. And so they sort of clutch their pearls at the fact that I’m against abortion. They talk to me as if I owe them an apology or an explanation, even as they say many nonsensical things that they can’t back up in any way.

So, for example, many people have no understanding of American abortion law. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that abortion is illegal after the first trimester. That’s not true literally anywhere in the country. Even in the most restrictive state—Mississippi—you can get a non-medical abortion until the 5th month, okay? They think that anti-choice forces are bringing us into the dark ages. They don’t realize we have some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. We are 1 out of only 7 countries where it’s legal to get a non-medical abortion after 20 weeks—right there with North Korea and China. They don’t realize that Roe v. Wade makes us this way. They think that all Roe v. Wade did was made abortion a legal option. Actually what it did was make it almost impossible to have any kind of restrictions before viability, which is about 6 months into the pregnancy.

And even if they believe me when I tell them that, it doesn’t shock them because they don’t know anything about fetal development at 6 months into the pregnancy! These are the same people who will tell me that biology—not philosophy—biology doesn’t tell us when life begins, which is complete anti-science nonsense. They’ll use the phrase “clumps of cells” as if we’re aborting amorphous spheres of genetic material instead of small humans with heartbeats and brain waves and organ systems. And if you show them video footage of Planned Parenthood harvesting those organs, they’ll just say “Heavily edited! Heavily edited!” over and over again, even though there’s no evidence that part was heavily edited. They don’t know what they mean when they say that. There’s no evidence of audio manipulation, and Planned Parenthood itself doesn’t even deny that they take organs from late-term fetuses. But sure, they’re taking brains and livers from “clumps of cells.”

And if they believe that part, they still think that it’s only because late-term abortions are done for severe medical reasons. So even if, yes, they take those, it’s from a tragic situation that had to happen anyway so at least it’s useful, right? Unfortunately, the research actually shows that even at 21 weeks or later, 80% of these abortions are not done for health-related reasons. It is a pleasant fiction to think that we are tearing children apart limb from limb only in the most tragic and dire situations. The reality is far less…comfortable. We even have abortion providers—and they’ll talk openly, in interviews, publicly, about how in third trimester they will abort healthy, viable babies. But the comfortable pro-choice people don’t want to talk about that, or hear it at all.

And even if they believe me when I point out that we’re killing small humans, that are abortion laws are insane, and that late-term abortion is not usually for health reasons, what is the comfortable pro-choice person supposed to do? They can’t be on our side! We’re the side of the old, rich, white conservative Christian men, right? Unfortunately that’s not really real either. Actually young people are just as likely to be against abortion as our parents and our grandparents. Poor people are more likely to be against abortion than rich people. Latinos are more likely to be against abortion than white people. And it’s true that we skew conservative and Christian, but 1 out of 5 Democrats is against abortion. 1 out of 5 non-religious people is against abortion. And what about the men thing? Everyone’s heard the “war on women” trope, right? All of the highly educated empowered women are fighting to control their bodies while regressive religious men are trying to stop them, right? Right? NO! Actually women are just as likely as men to be against abortion. There are literally tens of MILLIONS of American women against abortion! And when I point this out you see their true feminist colors, because then the answer is it must be that I am an internalized misogynist! I couldn’t possibly be against abortion because it’s destroying millions of humans! It must be because I hate myself. What a convenient, comfortable theory so that you don’t have to think too much about this. Everyone who disagrees with you is just deep-seated prejudice, right?

The reality is that I am a young, atheist, pretty broke, Millennial woman who is strongly against abortion, and I am standing right HERE! So stop acting like I don’t exist!

So all I ask is that if you’re going to defend our insane abortion laws, at least own what you’re defending. The inconvenient truth is that we’re killing small humans, our laws are insane, and we do late-term abortions even for non-medical reasons. And if you own that in your position, you’re not the one I have a problem with, because you’re doing it with eyes wide open. But if you are comfortable being pro-choice because you bury yourself in euphemisms and nonsense, then I ask you to step up. If you really want to defend this, do it with eyes wide open. That’s all I’m asking, thank you.

SPL banner at the Walk. Click to enlarge.

Walk for Life West Coast 2019 Recap

As has become tradition, we kicked off the Walk for Life with our own meet-up before the rally before the Walk itself. The past several years we’ve partnered with Rehumanize International, Pro-Life San Francisco, and other non-traditional pro-life organizations to host a meet-up in front of the Asian Art Museum typically highlighting the diversity in the pro-life movement, the different ways we’ve each come into antiabortion advocacy, and the many reasons we’re pro-life.

This year was no different. The meet-up, largely organized by our beloved Terrisa Bukovinac (both SPL co-leader and President of PLSF), included many excellent speeches.

SPL co-leader Monica Snyder gave a brief speech about the “comfortable pro-choice person,” that is the pro-choice person who is comfortable with his or her stance largely due to reassuring falsehoods (e.g. abortion is illegal after the first trimester, Roe v. Wade did no more than make legal abortion an option, biology doesn’t tell us when life begins, women only abort mere clumps of cells, the CMP videos were entirely faked, late-term abortions are only ever done for dire medical necessity, and the pro-life movement is just a bunch of old rich white conservative Christian men). She concluded that she doesn’t take as much issue with the pro-choice person who is aware of the truth regarding all these ideas and defends the pro-choice position in context of the facts, but she is very tired of pro-choice people who can’t seem to hold their position with eyes wide open. You can see the full video of the speech (including sources) here.

Other speakers discussed pro-life feminism, the consistent life ethic, the parallels between animal rights advocacy and pro-life advocacy, personal stories about the effects of abortion, and rousing calls to continue marching beyond the walk today and into our towns, school houses, and court houses. And while no doubt not everyone there agreed with every view of everyone else, we did all agree that we’re prepared to set aside differences and work together to fight abortion. Among the attendees and speakers were Christians, atheists, conservatives, liberals, straight, queer, Latino, white, women, men, young and old, and more. Berkeley Students for Life President Tamika Bassman spoke about how inspired she was by the diversity and harmony of last year’s Let There Be Life conference in Berkeley (sponsored by Pro-Life San Francisco); she explained that the conference really emphasized for her how people from all different walks for life can come together on this very important issue. This meet-up highlighted the same unity through our differences. It was wonderful to witness.

The rally before the Walk included speakers Abby Johnson and Patricia Sandoval, both former abortion clinic workers now in pro-life advocacy. At one point both they and several other women, all of whom are pregnant, used megaphones to allow the crowd to hear their children’s heartbeats.

After speeches, the mass of tens of thousands of marchers moved from the plaza onto Market Street, a major thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco. They walked past the downtown skyscrapers and past several dozen counter-protesters to the Justin Herman Plaza and the clock tower at Fisherman’s Wharf. This year marked the 15th Walk for Life, which started with only about 7,000 people in 2004. It’s now the second largest pro-life event after the D.C. March, and gives people who can’t haul all the way to East Coast an opportunity to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Walk for Life West Coast 2019 Recap

As has become tradition, we kicked off the Walk for Life with our own meet-up before the rally before the Walk itself. The past several years we’ve partnered with Rehumanize International, Pro-Life San Francisco, and other non-traditional pro-life organizations to host a meet-up in front of the Asian Art Museum typically highlighting the diversity in the pro-life movement, the different ways we’ve each come into antiabortion advocacy, and the many reasons we’re pro-life.

This year was no different. The meet-up, largely organized by our beloved Terrisa Bukovinac (both SPL co-leader and President of PLSF), included many excellent speeches.

SPL co-leader Monica Snyder gave a brief speech about the “comfortable pro-choice person,” that is the pro-choice person who is comfortable with his or her stance largely due to reassuring falsehoods (e.g. abortion is illegal after the first trimester, Roe v. Wade did no more than make legal abortion an option, biology doesn’t tell us when life begins, women only abort mere clumps of cells, the CMP videos were entirely faked, late-term abortions are only ever done for dire medical necessity, and the pro-life movement is just a bunch of old rich white conservative Christian men). She concluded that she doesn’t take as much issue with the pro-choice person who is aware of the truth regarding all these ideas and defends the pro-choice position in context of the facts, but she is very tired of pro-choice people who can’t seem to hold their position with eyes wide open. You can see the full video of the speech (including sources) here.

Other speakers discussed pro-life feminism, the consistent life ethic, the parallels between animal rights advocacy and pro-life advocacy, personal stories about the effects of abortion, and rousing calls to continue marching beyond the walk today and into our towns, school houses, and court houses. And while no doubt not everyone there agreed with every view of everyone else, we did all agree that we’re prepared to set aside differences and work together to fight abortion. Among the attendees and speakers were Christians, atheists, conservatives, liberals, straight, queer, Latino, white, women, men, young and old, and more. Berkeley Students for Life President Tamika Bassman spoke about how inspired she was by the diversity and harmony of last year’s Let There Be Life conference in Berkeley (sponsored by Pro-Life San Francisco); she explained that the conference really emphasized for her how people from all different walks for life can come together on this very important issue. This meet-up highlighted the same unity through our differences. It was wonderful to witness.

The rally before the Walk included speakers Abby Johnson and Patricia Sandoval, both former abortion clinic workers now in pro-life advocacy. At one point both they and several other women, all of whom are pregnant, used megaphones to allow the crowd to hear their children’s heartbeats.

After speeches, the mass of tens of thousands of marchers moved from the plaza onto Market Street, a major thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco. They walked past the downtown skyscrapers and past several dozen counter-protesters to the Justin Herman Plaza and the clock tower at Fisherman’s Wharf. This year marked the 15th Walk for Life, which started with only about 7,000 people in 2004. It’s now the second largest pro-life event after the D.C. March, and gives people who can’t haul all the way to East Coast an opportunity to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Walk for Life Recap

Last weekend, we traveled to San Francisco for the Walk for Life West Coast. California’s counterpart to the March for Life brought together people from all walks of life. Liberals and conservatives, atheists and Christians, and people of every race and nationality joined forces in support of children in the womb and their mothers. It was a beautiful sight.

First, on Saturday morning, we met up outside the Asian Art Museum. We heard several inspiring speakers, including Bettina Di Fiore, whose story we shared yesterday. (I reprised my spoken word from the March for Life.)

Then we made our way down Market Street with tens of thousands of like-minded advocates:

Abortion supporters held a counter-protest along a small section of the route. They had bullhorns and screamed “Walk for Life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!” over and over. I wanted so badly to ask if they’d heard of Tonya Reaves or Jennifer Morbelli (among many others). A protective cordon of law enforcement officers made any dialogue impossible. But it was probably for the best; there were many children and elderly people walking, and their safety comes first.

The Walk for Life concluded at the Justin Herman Plaza, where young adults from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust conducted a symbolic “die-in” to remember the victims of Roe v. Wade:

Our next stop—after a lot more walking, because the huge Walk for Life crowd overwhelmed Uber and Lyft—was 1522 Bush Street, where Planned Parenthood hopes to demolish the existing structure and build a “flagship” abortion facility. Not if the good people of Pro-Life San Francisco (led by SPL’s very own Terrisa Bukovinac) have anything to say about it!

The next day, Students for Life of America welcomed campus activists to their west coast conference. Secular Pro-Life had an exhibit booth to equip young leaders who are doing great things in very hostile environments. The conference featured excellent speakers, organized around five pillars of pro-life advocacy: effective education, industry impact, public policy, supportive services, and rapid response.

Check out all of our 2018 west coast photos here.

Walk for Life Recap

Last weekend, we traveled to San Francisco for the Walk for Life West Coast. California’s counterpart to the March for Life brought together people from all walks of life. Liberals and conservatives, atheists and Christians, and people of every race and nationality joined forces in support of children in the womb and their mothers. It was a beautiful sight.

First, on Saturday morning, we met up outside the Asian Art Museum. We heard several inspiring speakers, including Bettina Di Fiore, whose story we shared yesterday. (I reprised my spoken word from the March for Life.)

Then we made our way down Market Street with tens of thousands of like-minded advocates:

Abortion supporters held a counter-protest along a small section of the route. They had bullhorns and screamed “Walk for Life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!” over and over. I wanted so badly to ask if they’d heard of Tonya Reaves or Jennifer Morbelli (among many others). A protective cordon of law enforcement officers made any dialogue impossible. But it was probably for the best; there were many children and elderly people walking, and their safety comes first.

The Walk for Life concluded at the Justin Herman Plaza, where young adults from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust conducted a symbolic “die-in” to remember the victims of Roe v. Wade:

Our next stop—after a lot more walking, because the huge Walk for Life crowd overwhelmed Uber and Lyft—was 1522 Bush Street, where Planned Parenthood hopes to demolish the existing structure and build a “flagship” abortion facility. Not if the good people of Pro-Life San Francisco (led by SPL’s very own Terrisa Bukovinac) have anything to say about it!

The next day, Students for Life of America welcomed campus activists to their west coast conference. Secular Pro-Life had an exhibit booth to equip young leaders who are doing great things in very hostile environments. The conference featured excellent speakers, organized around five pillars of pro-life advocacy: effective education, industry impact, public policy, supportive services, and rapid response.

Check out all of our 2018 west coast photos here.

2017 Walk for Life recap

Your president, Kelsey Hazzard, here. On Saturday, Secular Pro-Life participated in the Walk for Life – West Coast for the seventh consecutive year. But for me, it was the first year. Typically, I am busy at the March for Life in D.C., and other SPL leaders take care of things in San Francisco. But this year, the west coast and east coast events are held a week apart, so I was finally able to make it out to California.

As usual, we teamed up with the Life Matters Journal. This year we also had the San Francisco chapter of Pro-Life Future, led by SPL admin Terrisa Bukovinac.

The walk was amazing. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and I encourage you to view our photo album here. A few of my favorites follow:

What the photos don’t convey is that Spanish music filled the air, complete with guitars and drums that people played while marching, which was pretty cool.

I’m told that there were fewer counter-protesters this year. In particular, Stop Patriarchy and its distinctive orange signs were absent. But rest assured, I was flipped the bird plenty of times.

The Walk for Life and the San Francisco Women’s March were held back-to-back, with the same rally space and the same march route. As you may have heard, the Women’s March officially denounced pro-life participation, and the Walk for Life organizers had concerns about the two groups clashing. As it turned out, the timing worked out so that there was a buffer zone of several blocks. Some SPL members stuck around for the Women’s March rally… about which, more soon!

Our next stop is Washington, D.C. You’ll find our full itinerary here.

2017 Walk for Life recap

Your president, Kelsey Hazzard, here. On Saturday, Secular Pro-Life participated in the Walk for Life – West Coast for the seventh consecutive year. But for me, it was the first year. Typically, I am busy at the March for Life in D.C., and other SPL leaders take care of things in San Francisco. But this year, the west coast and east coast events are held a week apart, so I was finally able to make it out to California.

As usual, we teamed up with the Life Matters Journal. This year we also had the San Francisco chapter of Pro-Life Future, led by SPL admin Terrisa Bukovinac.

The walk was amazing. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and I encourage you to view our photo album here. A few of my favorites follow:

What the photos don’t convey is that Spanish music filled the air, complete with guitars and drums that people played while marching, which was pretty cool.

I’m told that there were fewer counter-protesters this year. In particular, Stop Patriarchy and its distinctive orange signs were absent. But rest assured, I was flipped the bird plenty of times.

The Walk for Life and the San Francisco Women’s March were held back-to-back, with the same rally space and the same march route. As you may have heard, the Women’s March officially denounced pro-life participation, and the Walk for Life organizers had concerns about the two groups clashing. As it turned out, the timing worked out so that there was a buffer zone of several blocks. Some SPL members stuck around for the Women’s March rally… about which, more soon!

Our next stop is Washington, D.C. You’ll find our full itinerary here.

Walk for Life West Coast & West Coast SFLA Conference, 2016

The rally before the Walk was this bizarre San Francisco weather fluctuation, alternating between warm sunshine and sudden, cold rain. It was funny to see the giant crowd suddenly covered with umbrellas, then back to people milling around, then a wave of umbrellas again. But after seeing what our friends on the East Coast went through, we could hardly complain about the weather.

Yikes.

I really liked the Walk’s speaker line up this year. The first speaker was David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress and #PPsellsbabyparts fame. It was cool to see a Millennial up there. The Walk also invited Obianuju (“Uju”) Ekeocha, a Nigerian woman who encouraged American pro-lifers to take their pro-life activism to a more global level.  There were also several portions of the rally given in both Spanish and English, which is nicely inclusive for the traditionally heavily Latino San Francisco crowd.   
Uju Ekeocha, David Daleiden, and Walter Hoye

Last year during the Walk I was almost 8 months pregnant, which means this is the first year my daughter got to see it. My 10-month-old daughter was a trooper, watching the crowd curiously and especially enjoying exploring our banner.

However, once the Walk actually started she slept through the entire thing. Not that she would’ve understood what’s going on anyway. As every year before, it was a huge column of people pouring into downtown San Francisco. We walked several city blocks before we even saw the counter protesters. Personally I enjoy the Walk more when there are more counter protesters there, and this year there was a larger crowd than there had been for several years past. Most of them seem to be affiliated with the group Stop Patriarchy. Here is a screencap from their website:
“Forced motherhood is female enslavement” was the slogan of the year, although they still had the classic “Pro-life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!” I suspect that there may have been more counter protesters this year because of the Colorado shooting. In fact one woman specifically shouted in the face of fellow SPLer Terrisa, saying “You don’t give a sh** about what happened in Colorado!” Terrisa felt that, given the sign she was holding, it didn’t make sense for her to engage in a fight. 
Fighting would undermine the message, no?
I give “Most Creative Counter Protest” to a man wearing a colorful sequined outfit that said “Roll for Choice,” and of course he had roller skates on. We had no “Roll for Life” counterpoint…this year. Maybe next time.
But besides a lot of shouting and a few rude gestures, the counter protest was not eventful. It helps that there is a dense line of police officers who separate the two sides and who make sure no one crosses from one side to the other. They won’t even let you walk too near them. Here’s a (shaky) video of the bulk of the counter protest:

At one point we also saw an anti-abortion graphic photos group with large posters facing the Walk itself. I don’t think they were shouting anything though. At another point some construction workers about 5 or 6 stories above us kept cheering and using their air horn to get everyone to cheer back.
Sadly my sister and pro-life activist partner, Ellen, couldn’t come to the Walk this year, as she has now moved on to medical school in another state. This was unfortunate both because I miss her companionship and because she’s usually the one that takes all the photos of creative and unusual signs. And since this year is also the first in which I had to push a stroller, it was difficult for me to take the pictures either. I can say, as with every Walk I’ve gone to before now, there were a lot of nuns, priests, and monks in full dress, religious signs, and people singing hymns and praying. The rally before the Walk included much of the same: a lot of prayers from the podium and discussion of God’s calling and so on. And I thought the same thing I thought every year: it’s not that I want pro-life events like this to scrub out any trace of religious belief, but I would like it if they operated in a way that more readily acknowledged not all present are believers.
Terrisa and I experienced a bit more of this the next day at the SFLA West Coast conference. (Originally Terrisa and Kelsey were going to table, but thanks to winter storm Jonas, Kelsey was stranded in some pile of snow on the East coast, so I went in her place.) At one point a nun from the Sisters of Life came to speak to us. She was very kind and told us all about their ministries, which include post-abortion counseling. I asked whether the counseling was designed for Christians specifically, and she explained they try to meet people where they’re at. She told us about how part of the process includes women going to designated days of prayer and healing, and often during those times the women name the children they never got to meet and focus on how those children are with God now, and how the women will eventually see them again. 
I can see how this would be cathartic for those who share these beliefs, and I’m glad the Sisters of Life are there to help so many women through the grieving process. However I asked the Sister how they would handle that part of their ministry if an atheist woman came to them. My understanding of her answer was that she believes all people know somewhere in their hearts that when loved ones die, that is not the end of their relationships with said loved ones. 
It’s possible the Sister meant that, even if you don’t believe in life after death, the relationship can go on through the memories you have or through some other symbolic means. But both Terrisa and I had the impression that she meant a version of the claim we’ve heard before: that there is not really such thing as an atheist. That is, many people seem to believe that deep down all of us know in our hearts that Christianity is true, or, at minimum, that God and the supernatural world exist. In this case, the implication seemed to be that all people sense we will eventually see our departed loved ones again.
Even if that is what the Sister meant, she clearly did not mean it in any kind of aggressive or challenging way, but as a comfort. I hold no ill will toward her. But to me that interaction was characteristic of what I expect when I participate in pro-life activism: I see the movement treated as a movement that belongs to Christians who are willing to host the rest of us as guests. But what I work and hope for is a diverse movement where we all are all hosts, so to speak—that is, the movement belongs to all of us.
The conference was still really enjoyable. Our table was again next to the table for Life Matters Journal, which we love. The people who table for LMJ are invariably friendly and funny and generous. They had a whole bunch of the decorative signs artsy Ms. Aimee had made for the Walk, and our tables jointly decided to line the signs along the hallway in the empty space next to us so everyone could appreciate them fully. Plenty of students stopped and took pictures. We took a few pictures ourselves.
We also had a lot of great interactions with people. One woman told us she works as a lab technician for a physics department and sometimes gets into debates about abortion with the professors there. She said she directs them to our group all the time so they can see the pro-science pro-life view. Another woman told us about how she used to lead a college pro-life club; she found it frustrating when she asked her fellow pro-lifers why they were pro-life and they answered “because we are Christian.” A Christian herself, she wanted her group to be able to do outreach with a variety of people, so she was happy to take some of our materials to discuss with her friends. Another student told us that one of her friends was both pro-life and secular and hadn’t heard of us, and she (and we) were excited for her to return home and tell her friend about SPL. That’s definitely my favorite part of our outreach: when we find other secularists who are thrilled to realize they aren’t alone in their pro-lifeism.
If any of our readers are interested, you can find PDFs and JPEGs here of some of the materials we gave out at the conference as well as materials we’ve created before. Specifically, the conference materials included “Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion” and “10 tips to be inclusive.”

Walk for Life West Coast & West Coast SFLA Conference, 2016

The rally before the Walk was this bizarre San Francisco weather fluctuation, alternating between warm sunshine and sudden, cold rain. It was funny to see the giant crowd suddenly covered with umbrellas, then back to people milling around, then a wave of umbrellas again. But after seeing what our friends on the East Coast went through, we could hardly complain about the weather.

Yikes.

I really liked the Walk’s speaker line up this year. The first speaker was David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress and #PPsellsbabyparts fame. It was cool to see a Millennial up there. The Walk also invited Obianuju (“Uju”) Ekeocha, a Nigerian woman who encouraged American pro-lifers to take their pro-life activism to a more global level.  There were also several portions of the rally given in both Spanish and English, which is nicely inclusive for the traditionally heavily Latino San Francisco crowd.   
Uju Ekeocha, David Daleiden, and Walter Hoye

Last year during the Walk I was almost 8 months pregnant, which means this is the first year my daughter got to see it. My 10-month-old daughter was a trooper, watching the crowd curiously and especially enjoying exploring our banner.

However, once the Walk actually started she slept through the entire thing. Not that she would’ve understood what’s going on anyway. As every year before, it was a huge column of people pouring into downtown San Francisco. We walked several city blocks before we even saw the counter protesters. Personally I enjoy the Walk more when there are more counter protesters there, and this year there was a larger crowd than there had been for several years past. Most of them seem to be affiliated with the group Stop Patriarchy. Here is a screencap from their website:
“Forced motherhood is female enslavement” was the slogan of the year, although they still had the classic “Pro-life, that’s a lie! You don’t care if women die!” I suspect that there may have been more counter protesters this year because of the Colorado shooting. In fact one woman specifically shouted in the face of fellow SPLer Terrisa, saying “You don’t give a sh** about what happened in Colorado!” Terrisa felt that, given the sign she was holding, it didn’t make sense for her to engage in a fight. 
Fighting would undermine the message, no?
I give “Most Creative Counter Protest” to a man wearing a colorful sequined outfit that said “Roll for Choice,” and of course he had roller skates on. We had no “Roll for Life” counterpoint…this year. Maybe next time.
But besides a lot of shouting and a few rude gestures, the counter protest was not eventful. It helps that there is a dense line of police officers who separate the two sides and who make sure no one crosses from one side to the other. They won’t even let you walk too near them. Here’s a (shaky) video of the bulk of the counter protest:

At one point we also saw an anti-abortion graphic photos group with large posters facing the Walk itself. I don’t think they were shouting anything though. At another point some construction workers about 5 or 6 stories above us kept cheering and using their air horn to get everyone to cheer back.
Sadly my sister and pro-life activist partner, Ellen, couldn’t come to the Walk this year, as she has now moved on to medical school in another state. This was unfortunate both because I miss her companionship and because she’s usually the one that takes all the photos of creative and unusual signs. And since this year is also the first in which I had to push a stroller, it was difficult for me to take the pictures either. I can say, as with every Walk I’ve gone to before now, there were a lot of nuns, priests, and monks in full dress, religious signs, and people singing hymns and praying. The rally before the Walk included much of the same: a lot of prayers from the podium and discussion of God’s calling and so on. And I thought the same thing I thought every year: it’s not that I want pro-life events like this to scrub out any trace of religious belief, but I would like it if they operated in a way that more readily acknowledged not all present are believers.
Terrisa and I experienced a bit more of this the next day at the SFLA West Coast conference. (Originally Terrisa and Kelsey were going to table, but thanks to winter storm Jonas, Kelsey was stranded in some pile of snow on the East coast, so I went in her place.) At one point a nun from the Sisters of Life came to speak to us. She was very kind and told us all about their ministries, which include post-abortion counseling. I asked whether the counseling was designed for Christians specifically, and she explained they try to meet people where they’re at. She told us about how part of the process includes women going to designated days of prayer and healing, and often during those times the women name the children they never got to meet and focus on how those children are with God now, and how the women will eventually see them again. 
I can see how this would be cathartic for those who share these beliefs, and I’m glad the Sisters of Life are there to help so many women through the grieving process. However I asked the Sister how they would handle that part of their ministry if an atheist woman came to them. My understanding of her answer was that she believes all people know somewhere in their hearts that when loved ones die, that is not the end of their relationships with said loved ones. 
It’s possible the Sister meant that, even if you don’t believe in life after death, the relationship can go on through the memories you have or through some other symbolic means. But both Terrisa and I had the impression that she meant a version of the claim we’ve heard before: that there is not really such thing as an atheist. That is, many people seem to believe that deep down all of us know in our hearts that Christianity is true, or, at minimum, that God and the supernatural world exist. In this case, the implication seemed to be that all people sense we will eventually see our departed loved ones again.
Even if that is what the Sister meant, she clearly did not mean it in any kind of aggressive or challenging way, but as a comfort. I hold no ill will toward her. But to me that interaction was characteristic of what I expect when I participate in pro-life activism: I see the movement treated as a movement that belongs to Christians who are willing to host the rest of us as guests. But what I work and hope for is a diverse movement where we all are all hosts, so to speak—that is, the movement belongs to all of us.
The conference was still really enjoyable. Our table was again next to the table for Life Matters Journal, which we love. The people who table for LMJ are invariably friendly and funny and generous. They had a whole bunch of the decorative signs artsy Ms. Aimee had made for the Walk, and our tables jointly decided to line the signs along the hallway in the empty space next to us so everyone could appreciate them fully. Plenty of students stopped and took pictures. We took a few pictures ourselves.
We also had a lot of great interactions with people. One woman told us she works as a lab technician for a physics department and sometimes gets into debates about abortion with the professors there. She said she directs them to our group all the time so they can see the pro-science pro-life view. Another woman told us about how she used to lead a college pro-life club; she found it frustrating when she asked her fellow pro-lifers why they were pro-life and they answered “because we are Christian.” A Christian herself, she wanted her group to be able to do outreach with a variety of people, so she was happy to take some of our materials to discuss with her friends. Another student told us that one of her friends was both pro-life and secular and hadn’t heard of us, and she (and we) were excited for her to return home and tell her friend about SPL. That’s definitely my favorite part of our outreach: when we find other secularists who are thrilled to realize they aren’t alone in their pro-lifeism.
If any of our readers are interested, you can find PDFs and JPEGs here of some of the materials we gave out at the conference as well as materials we’ve created before. Specifically, the conference materials included “Why Should Non-Christians Care About Abortion” and “10 tips to be inclusive.”