Ann Scheidler

Opinion

A look back at 40 years fighting abortion

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.



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A photo of Kim Tucci at 25 weeks gestation Erin Elizabeth Photography
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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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