Ann Scheidler

A look back at 40 years fighting abortion

Ann Scheidler
By Ann Scheidler
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January 18, 2013 (Prolifeaction.org) - January 22, 1973. Anyone familiar with the abortion battles in America knows that date. This year we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling issued on that day.

But in 1973, the front page of newspapers across the country were full of other momentous news. Former President Lyndon Johnson died on January 22, 1973. Richard Nixon had just recently announced an end to hostilities against North Vietnam, and the Paris Peace Accords were being brokered.

My husband Joe Scheidler was down with the flu on January 22, 1973. I was pregnant with our fourth child, who turned out to be our first daughter, Cathy. Our three boys—Eric, 6; Joe, 5; and Peter, 3—occupied most of my attention. I didn’t look at the front page of the Chicago Tribune until late in the day on January 23. Joe didn’t read it until the next day.

But as we read the news we were incredulous. Illinois was a pro-life state in those days. Attempts to ease restrictions on abortions here had easily been defeated. We weren’t paying attention to the national fight to legalize abortion and did not even know there was a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We simply could not believe such a thing could happen. With a stroke of a pen, all abortion laws were struck down and unborn babies, like Cathy, just 4 ½ months in my womb, were dependent solely on their mothers for their right to be born.

Joe immediately flew into action. He read the decision and was dumbfounded at the illogic and ignorance of scientific reality written into Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion, representing seven of the sitting judges. Only two Justices—William Rehnquist and Byron White—dissented, with White referring to the decision as “an exercise in raw judicial power.”

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The following Sunday, we went to Mass at our parish, Queen of All Saints, expecting to hear outrage from the pulpit and to be given some sort of marching orders. There was no mention of Roe v. Wade. And when we talked with family and friends, they agreed that it was a bad ruling, but no one else seemed to feel any obligation to fight it.

We looked for some way to get connected with someone who cared. We had contributed to Illinois Right to Life when they fought in Springfield to keep abortion out of Illinois, so we called them. They had a meeting scheduled for the following week.

We went to the meeting, expecting to find the room packed with concerned citizens. Hardly anyone was there. And it slowly dawned on us that we were a minority, those of us who reacted with horror at Roe v. Wade.

Still, we believed that if people only understood the humanity of the unborn baby, American people would rise up and oppose abortion-on-demand. Joe started researching anything he could find on fetal development, methods of abortion, the background on the movement to legalize abortion. He spent so much time on it, he couldn’t focus on his work at a public relations job.

Finally his boss, a pro-life Catholic, suggested that his real passion lay in fighting abortion, and that he should pursue it as his full-time job. He said he would help him by keeping him on the payroll and with health insurance coverage until our baby was born.

Joe enlisted my father’s help in starting the Chicago Office for Pro-Life Publicity, with the aim of publicizing facts on abortion and fetal development and educating the public to build opposition to abortion. But raising funds for such a venture proved a real challenge.

In January of 1974, Illinois Right to Life decided it needed to hire a part-time director. Joe took the job, which quite quickly became a full-time job. We both still expected our pro-life mission to be short term. We still believed that Americans would not settle for such callous disregard for innocent, defenseless human life.

In that way, God was being good to us. Had we known we were in for a lifelong battle, we might have given up. In fact, Joe went to hear Fr. Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International, give a talk at a hotel in downtown Chicago. When he came home he reported that Fr. Marx thought we were in for a long fight—that it would be at least five, perhaps ten, years before Roe v. Wade would be overturned.

I was furious at such a pessimistic outlook. But Fr. Marx had been fighting the pro-death lobby for several years already. He knew it was deeply entrenched in the culture. And he was being ridiculously optimistic in his five to ten year projection. Now we know, of course, that we will be in this battle for the rest of our lives. And we thank God for entrusting this mission to us.

Joe spent five years with the Illinois Right to Life Committee. But he had a street fighter’s approach. He had joined Martin Luther King on his march from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965. Illinois Right to Life had a more academic approach to fighting abortion. They found his aggressive tactics a little embarrassing and, at a contentious, board meeting, demanded his resignation.

Joe and a couple of pro-life colleagues from IRLC decided to form another group. They called it Friends for Life. But right from the beginning the friends were at each others’ throats. Friends only lasted a little over a year. Joe and I decided to focus principally on direct action—protests, sidewalk counseling, events that would attract media attention. So, in June 1980 we stepped out completely in faith and founded the Pro-Life Action League. Joe worked out of our basement, with six active kids under foot. Apparently it was the right move.

Joe wrote his book, CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, which attracted the attention of not just pro-life activists, but pro-abortion activists as well. In 1986 the National Organization for Women filed its lawsuit against Joe and the Pro-Life Action League—NOW v. Scheidler.

The national attention to such an unprecedented attack on a protest movement—the use of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) to stifle freedom of speech—actually raised the profile of the Pro-Life Action League, giving it more national recognition. The case went to the Supreme Court of the United States three times!

The landmark victory in NOW v. Scheidler put an end to attempts to use RICO to stop pro-lifers. The unintended consequence of NOW’s lawsuit, thanks to the genius of our defense attorney Tom Brejcha, was to forge an alliance among protest groups of all kinds, conservative and liberal, to protect our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

The pro-life movement has changed a lot since January 22, 1973. It has become more sophisticated. We have moved from the electric typewriter and a mailing list on 3 x 5 index cards to sophisticated Facebook pages, social media, email updates, nationwide coordinated projects, and a political landscape where every candidate has to have a position on abortion.

And on this 40th anniversary we are far closer to overturning Roe v. Wade than we ever were in 1973 when in our naiveté we thought it would be a two-year battle.

Building a Culture of Life takes time. We’re willing to try. And we know we will win.

Red alert! Last call.

Please support fearless pro-life and pro-family reporting. Donate to our summer campaign today.


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Lisa Bourne

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Opposing gay ‘marriage’ may demand civil disobedience: Louisiana bishop

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

LAFAYETTE, LA, June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop of the Catholic diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one of the nation’s Church leaders to come out strongly against the Supreme Court decision forcing all 50 states to recognize homosexual “marriage”.

Bishop Michael Jarrell reminded Catholics in a statement that the judiciary does not have the power to redefine marriage, and he opened the door to civil disobedience as a possible response to the June 26 Supreme Court ruling.

“Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation,” Bishop Jarrell wrote in his statement. “This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

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“The marital covenant was established by God with its own proper nature and laws,” he continued.

Recognizing the tide of religious persecution across the country against those who hold the Biblical view of marriage, Bishop Jarrell addressed the issue of living one’s Catholic faith in light of the Supreme Court decision, and gave the green light to refuse to comply, even if it means breaking the law.

“I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office,” Bishop Jarrell said. “In some cases civil disobedience may be a proper response.”

In an exercise of episcopal authority, the Lafayette prelate also issued a mandate that no representative of the diocese would enable homosexual “marriage” in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

“No priest or deacon of this Diocese may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriage,” he declared. “No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or facilities belonging to benevolent orders may be used for the solemnization of same-sex marriage.”

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The bishop also cautioned against Catholics showing support for homosexual “marriage” by their presence at same-sex “wedding”.

“All Catholics are urged not to attend same-sex ceremonies,” he said.

The bishop said he hoped this October’s Ordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican would address issues brought about by “the alteration of the traditional law about marriage.”

Bishop Jarrell also expressed deep sadness at the Supreme Court ruling, and said while Catholics have great respect for everyone as children of God, the justices’ decision had no legal or moral foundation.

“As Catholics we have a profound respect for the dignity of all God’s children,” he stated. “Nevertheless there is no basis in law or in nature for altering the traditional definition of marriage, established by God from the beginning.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic News Service gives platform to head of union that gave hundreds of millions to pro-abort politicians

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By Lisa Bourne

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The news service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has published an article by the head of an organization that has given hundreds of millions of dollars to elect pro-abortion politicians.

Americans should listen to Pope Francis, at least when it comes to his message on poverty and economics, according to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, an organization that has done arguably more to elect pro-abortion politicians than any other group in the last 50 years.

The union chief made his case in a June 22 guest column for Catholic News Service (CNS).

The AFL-CIO donated $200 million to Democratic politicians in 2008 alone.

LifeSiteNews contacted Catholic News Service about Trumka’s column in light of the AFL-CIO’s support for abortion, contraception, and homosexual “marriage," but CNS declined to comment.

On his way in the piece to pronouncing unity between the Church and big labor, Trumka touts Pope Francis’s recently reported high approval rating and the “newfound vigor” the Roman Catholic Church has added to its “traditional social doctrine” since his election.

“For much of the last century and more, the labor movement and the Catholic Church have stood together in solidarity for people who labor for a living,” he wrote in the CNS column. “Pope Francis lives and breathes this tradition.”

“Together, the Catholic Church and the labor movement stand for a new moral and political order,” he said.

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In his June 22 piece for Catholic News Service he wrote about helping to ease the pain and suffering for others as his reasons for praising Pope Francis.

“We believe in the duty to ease pain and to offer comfort to those who are suffering -- and not just with kind words, but with action,” Trumka opined. “That is why I am so heartened by our Holy Father Pope Francis.

Trumka, raised Catholic, writes his column for CNS with a Catholic voice, but the union he heads up supports contraception and homosexual “marriage”, along with abortion.

While the Church today holds The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers among its themes of Catholic Social Teaching, giving voice in the Bishops’ own news agency to the representative of an organization which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians contradicts the USCCB’s very own document teaching on the need for Catholics to act in support of Catholic principles and policies in public life.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life states. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The nation’s top union also supports the so-called “free” birth control imposed as part of the HHS mandate, something many groups – including the USCCB itself – resisted being forced to provide.

“Women have fought hard for the right to safe, legal reproductive health services and the freedom to exercise that right,” the AFL-CIO Statement on Women's Access to Quality and Affordable Reproductive Health Care says. “The Affordable Care Act provides that women will receive preventative health care benefits, including FDA-approved methods of birth control, without co-pays or deductibles.”

Many of those forms of “birth control” may act as abortifacients.

The AFL-CIO’s support for abortion and birth control isn’t where the union’s advocacy for anti-Catholic initiatives stops. It encompasses homosexual activism as well.

Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBT union members and their “allies,” that “organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community to further social and economic justice.”

Pride at Work is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO

The deeds of the AFL-CIO as an organization are not the sole illustration of how Trumka’s CNS appearance sends a conflicting message with regard to Church principles, but also statements embracing and advocating principles in direct contrast to the faith by the man himself.

“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality,” Trumka said in a statement supporting homosexual “marriage”.

When the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 defending marriage were overturned, he said they never should have been adopted in the first place.

“The Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were radical and divisive laws that never should have been,” Trumka said. “Now, we can begin to fully clear the dark legal cloud that has hung over our nation.”

Trumka employs a childhood anecdote to frame his article complete with violence against his grandfather on the part of the profit-focused mining company that “owned everything,” in his Pennsylvania hometown.

“Pope Francis speaks for the church I grew up in when he calls for an organized moral response to the injustices of modern capitalism,” stated Trumka, whose salary level is around $300,000 per year according to unionfacts.com.

Trumka has been implicated in encouraging intimidation and deception to advance union goals, according to a report from the National Legal and Policy Center.

Trumka has also been accused of legitimizing violence. During a multi-state coal miners’ strike organized by the United Mine Workers in 1993, Trumka, as union president, ordered more than 17,000 miners to walk off the job, and explicitly told strikers to "kick the s--- out of" employees and mine operators defying union demands.

Homes were vandalized, shots were fired at a mine office, and power was cut to one mine, temporarily trapping 93 miners underground.

A non-union contractor, Eddie York, was murdered by a union member, shot in the back of the head as he drove past strikers at a West Virginia work site. Those trying to rescue the victim were attacked by a group of union members. The union member who shot the contractor went to jail, but no one else was disciplined for what took place.

Trumka told Virginian-Pilot in September 1993 regarding the incident, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.”

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Supreme Court suspends Texas law that would have closed half of its abortion facilities

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About half of the abortion facilities in Texas got a reprieve from the Supreme Court on its last day in session.

Justices ruled 5-4 that, right now, the state of Texas may not enforce health protection laws that would have put all but nine of the state's abortion offices out of business. The court's conservative bloc – Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – objected, but Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote with the court's liberals.

At issue is whether the state may require abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and require abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety codes as other ambulatory surgical centers.

The temporary stay of Senate Bill 5 lasts until the justices decide whether they will hear an appeal from the abortion industry, which argues the law's provisions would unduly restrict a woman's access to abortion-on-demand.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was swayed, not for the first time in a week, by illogical arguments,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “By actively lobbying against common sense regulations that would make sure women have access to ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortions, Planned Parenthood and their allies are making a mockery of women’s health care.”

“The abortion industry cares only for their bottom line, and women and their prenatal children are merely dollar signs in their business cycle,” Hawkins said.

"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation,” said Lila Rose of Live Action. “Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."

State pro-life leaders regret the loopholes that they say put women's health at risk.

“Unfortunately, women who do not have abortions at any of the nine operating ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions will continue to be subjected to substandard medical care,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

The ruling does not permanently enjoin the state. It does not even guarantee justices will hear the case.

Should they decline, the law will go into effect in its entirety.

Last October, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to implement these measures while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered its decision in a 6-3 verdict. However, it added that the state must allow abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen to operate subpar operations, defying greater protections for women, because closing those facilities would require women to drive a great distance to the next nearest abortion facility.

Earlier this month, a three-panel judge of the appeals court, based in New Orleans, upheld the health regulations. All three judges had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

Had the full requirements gone into effect, half of all the remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have closed.

The left-wing website ThinkProgress worried, if the High Court upheld the decision, it would mean that “Roe v. Wade is almost entirely dead.”

Today, representatives of the abortion lobby felt relief. "Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pro-life Republican, vowed to “continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn.”

“I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law,” he added.

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