For the twelfth straight year, the Pro-Life Action League co-sponsored Speak Out Illinois, along with twenty other Illinois pro-life organizations. Sandy Rios, newly appointed president of Concerned Women for America, returned to Chicago from her new headquarters in Washington to M.C. SpeakOut Illinois 2002.
Conference Begins with Prayer
The invocation at the beginning of the day was offered by Pastor Larry Rogers of the Israel Methodist Community Church, which was the home church of the late Pastor Hiram Crawford, a pro-life stalwart in the Chicago area.
The keynote speaker for the morning session was Michael Schwartz who delivered an inspiring message on the current state of affairs in the abortion arena. Schwartz is the vice president for Government Relations for Concerned Women for America.
Workshops were presented on a variety of pro-life issues. Vicky Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the National Office for Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, gave a powerful presentation on the devastating effects of abortion for women and what can be done to help bring about healing.
Nigel Cameron, dean of the Wilberforce Forum, spoke on the ethical problems that arise from bioethical research and threaten to compromise human dignity. Becky MacDougall, director of the Sunny Ridge Family Center, spoke on adoption, especially as an option to abortion. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society presented a workshop on the issues that confront families in the 21st century.
Dr. Jean Garton Receives Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award
The Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award was presented to Dr. Jean Garton, founder of Lutherans for Life. Dr. Garton graciously accepted the brass plaque shaped like the State of Illinois, in spite of the fact that the message on the plaque cited Dr. Jack Willke for his contributions to the pro-life cause. The error on the plaque was a last minute discovery about a half hour before the presentation was to be made. Apparently the engraver had mistakenly reprinted the text from the award presented in 2001 to Willke. Of course, the plaque was switched for a correct one for Dr. Garton. Ironically, although Garton made no mention of the error in receiving the award, in her talk she referred to an award she once presented to Henry Hyde in which she discovered a misspelling as she was presenting the award.
TeenSpeak a Rousing Success
TeenSpeak, the teen outreach of SpeakOut Illinois presented workshops issues that would help teens defend life. Laura Walters gave a description of the stages of fetal development. Jill Stanek, the nurse who blew the whistle on the Christ Hospital live birth abortions spoke on the various types of abortion. Joe Scheidler presented practical actions that teens could take to build a culture of life.
During the memorial service for the babies who have died by abortion, the teens took a pledge to do something concrete to stop abortion. Some promised to start a pro-life club at their school. Some said they would try to convert friends to a pro-life position. Some promised to devote specific prayers to the pro-life cause. Alyssa Chiazim, winner of the annual scholarship essay contest sponsored by the Pro-Life Action League, read her essay on how she could specifically be a leader for life. Alyssa is a student at Luther High School North in Chicago and will use her scholarship toward tuition at Luther.