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PLAL Executive Director Eric Scheidler talks at SpeakOut Illinois [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The 22nd annual SpeakOut Illinois Conference drew a crowd of over 400 people this year, one of the largest crowds the conference has seen in recent years.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont was the site of the February 2 conference with some 35 pro-life, pro-family organizations participating as sponsors. The Pro-Life Action League’s very own Ann Scheidler and a former League staffer Tommie Romano served as the co-chairmen of the conference planning committee. They oversaw a dedicated team of about 20 volunteers that helped made the event a great success.
The day began with a welcome by master of ceremonies Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center, followed by an opening prayer offered by Rev. Calvin Lindstrom of the Church of Christian Liberty.
Following the showing of the trailer for the upcoming pro-life film 40, Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler gave the conference’s opening presentation.
“Did you wake up a little depressed and let down on November 7 last year?” Eric asked the SpeakOut crowd, acknowledging the sense of defeat felt by pro-lifers after last year’s re-election of Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion president in American history.
Eric noted that at this moment in history, many people in the pro-life movement feel as if all the work we have been doing for 40 years has been in vain. Eric, however, urged the SpeakOut crowd to take heart by highlighting the Top Ten accomplishments of the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade.
These include keeping abortion on the front page, shutting down hundreds of dangerous abortion clinics, enacting hundreds of pro-life laws at every level of government, establishing pregnancy centers to give abortion-vulnerable women the help they need to choose life, not to mention actually saving countless babies’ lives through street-level pro-life witness.
Eric reminded the crowd that the efforts of the pro-life movement have changed the course of history for all of eternity, and that now is no time for despair. On the contrary, this is the time to redouble our pro-life efforts.
Coming just a week after his widely publicized interview on MSNBC, Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation gave a presentation entitled “Fatherhood in the Culture of Abortion” that was tremendously well received, thanks to his down-to-earth, yet unapologetic style.
Conceived in rape and adopted into a multi-racial Christian family with 12 other children, Ryan is a strong advocate for the endless possibility of all children and is a strong proponent of adoption.
As Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation, he showed a visual presentation of the dynamic, cutting-edge ads that have won him popular acclaim within the pro-life movement in recent years.
In his presentation, Ryan share the story of launching a large-scale billboard campaign in Georgia featuring a picture of an African-American baby containing the words “Endangered Species” and TooManyAborted.com on it, causing outrage among those who hold racist sentiments.
Ryan also related how his provocative videos and ads highlighting the disproportionate abortion rate among black Americans have drawn the ire of no less than the NAACP, which Ryan refers to as “the National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.” The NAACP — an organization that is outspokenly supportive of legal abortion — is currently trying to silence Ryan with threats and lawsuits.
The SpeakOut Illinois Committee presented the 2013 Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award to Star Parker for her dedication to the cause of defense of life, preservation of the family, and urban renewal. Star was humbled to receive this award and went on to humorously yet passionately give a glimpse of her own life.
Star shared how she had undergone four abortions and experienced a series of failed relationships and seven years of welfare dependency — and how she found redemption in Christ and the grace to rise out of her condition of dependency on government into a newfound dependency on God alone.
She became a businesswoman, a radio personality, and eventually a founder and president of the think tank CURE (the Center for Urban Renewal and Education). Star is an outspoken advocate of family life, hard work, and business, but says the role of welfare and government assistance programs inhibit the poor from breaking out of the cycle of poverty.
The conference closed with a moving candlelight memorial for the 55 million unborn babies killed by abortion since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in 1973.
All of the talks given at SpeakOut Illinois 2013 are available on MP3 or CD through LCE Media.
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