Pro-Life Activists Celebrate 8-1 Victory

Rally in Federal Plaza

Hundreds of pro-lifers celebrate the Scheidler v. NOW victory in Chicago’s Federal Plaza [Photo by Eric Scheidler]

Saturday, June 7, 2003 dawned as the most beautiful day of the entire spring. All through the coldest, cloudiest spring in Chicago for over a century, dozens of small children—friends and grandchildren of the Scheidlers—had been praying for good weather for the Grand Victory Celebration. Their prayers were answered: with blue skies and warm breezes Chicago’s Federal Plaza began to fill up with pro-lifers ready to revel in the Pro-Life Action League’s 8-1 Supreme Court victory.

The West End Jazz Band added to the festive atmosphere with upbeat, Dixieland music. Red, white and blue balloons decorated the tents for the band and T-shirt sales and festooned the speakers’ platform. Participants were given American flags and decorative fans proclaiming the 8-1 victory and were encouraged to purchase T-shirts with Uncle Sam embracing a baby, specially designed for the day.

Kurey Opens Rally

Mary-Louise Kurey opens the Victory Rally with the National Anthem
[Photo by Eric Scheidler]

Mary-Louise Kurey, Archdiocese of Chicago Respect Life Coordinator, opened the morning’s activities by leading the people in singing the National Anthem. Joe Scheidler then welcomed the crowd and emphasized the importance of the Supreme Court victory in NOW v. Scheidler, a victory shared by the entire pro-life movement.

Scheidler then invited dozens of pro-life leaders from all over the country and across the Atlantic to come up to the platform to tell about their work in the movement and what the NOW v. Scheidler victory means for them. Each speaker brought another element of the pro-life movement to the fore, interspersed with tunes from the West End Jazz Band and the singing of American anthems.

Pro-Life Leaders Share the Victory

Speakers included Fr. Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International; Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life; Fr. Tom Euteneuer, director of Human Life International; Nellie Gray, founder and president of March for Life; Jack Ames, president of Defend Life; and Rev. Ed Martin, founder and director of Rescue America.

Speaker's Podium

Joe with Beverly McMillan, one of dozens of speakers at the Victory Rally
[Photo by Eric Scheidler]

Other speakers were Troy Newman, of Operation Rescue West; Bernadette Smyth, founder of Precious Life of Northern Ireland; Mark Crutcher, founder and president of Life Dynamics; Dr. Beverly McMillan, former abortion provider and now a doctor for life; Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society; Julie McCreevy, director of the Chicago chapter of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; and Yvonne Seeman, director of Love From Above Ministries.

Tom Brejcha, lead attorney for NOW v. Scheidler and chief counsel for the Thomas More Society, briefly reviewed the case, followed by Mary Ann Hackett, president of Illinois Right to Life, Annie Scheidler, director of Generations for Life, Mark Bomchill, former abortion clinic guard, now with Pro-Life Action Ministries, Jim Hughes, director of Campaign Life Coalition in Canada and Preston Noell, regional director of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

Activist and radio talk show host Steve Peroutka from Baltimore spoke, as well as Colette Wilson, a California attorney who researched the abortionists’ perjury in the trial; Brian Clowes, researcher with Human Life International; Janet Morana, co-founder of Silent No More and assistant to Fr. Frank Pavone; and Ken Fisher, director of Concerned Roman Catholics of America. NOW v. Scheidler co-defendants Andy Scholberg and Tim Murphy rounded out the presentations at the rally.

Surprise guest Michael John Poirier performed a song from his CD “Healing after the Choice,” and distributed free copies of the CD to the crowd. The morning rally concluded with a rousing singing of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the crowd in the Federal Plaza.

Productive Workshops on Pro-Life Activism

Sidewalk Counseling Workshop

Julie McCreevy shows a photo during her workshop of a baby saved by sidewalk counseling
[Photo by Danita Covington]

Later that afternoon over two hundred gathered at the Congress Plaza Hotel for the three activist workshops. Julie McCreevy and Kathy Mieding presented a workshop on sidewalk counseling, explaining the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants technique and the use of the Chicago Method. Julie and Kathy, both seasoned, successful sidewalk counselors, have saved hundreds of babies at the abortion mills by offering women alternatives and helping them to realize they can choose life for their babies. Julie’s assistant Ana Esquivel ran a concurrent session in Spanish. Among the attendees was diocesan Hispanic liaison Jorge Rivera who was enthusiastic to share all he had learned with the Hispanic Community.

Annie Scheidler, Mary Shine and John Jansen from the Pro-Life Action League’s Generations for Life division held a workshop on reaching out to young people with the pro-life message. They told the audience that their own experience and recent reports in both secular and Christian publications show that young people are yearning for the truth and are disposed to be pro-life. They invited several young people who also work with youth to join them at the podium.

Activism Workshops Audience

Two hundred new and seasonsed activists attended the pro-life activism workshops
[Photo by Danita Covington]

Joe and Ann Scheidler led a workshop on direct action and invited the participants in the workshop to present their own suggestions of projects and approaches that they have found to be effective. Pastor David Lackey of Alabama explained how he ministers to the staff at the abortion clinics, by inviting them to tell him their concerns and establishing a good relationship with them. Tim McKinney of Kansas suggested that pro-lifers who have little time to devote to pro-life projects use their vacation time to join truth tours or go to an abortion clinic. Rev. Ed Martin spoke about the effectiveness of just being visible at an abortion mill or in a pro-life demonstration. There were so many exciting and creative ideas coming from the audience that time ran out before all could be discussed.

The “Impossible Dream” Will Come True

Joe and Fr. Pavone

Fr. Frank Pavone offers the blessing at the Banquet
[Photo by Troy Newman]

The Victory Celebration Day ended with a gala banquet in the Great Hall of the Congress Plaza Hotel. Over 520 guests filled the ballroom as Joe Glatzel of Milwaukee provided beautiful piano music. A head table filled with pro-life leaders from all over the world looked out over a room packed with equally committed and dedicated pro-lifers. Jerry Horn, former assistant director of the Pro-Life Action League, and now director of communications for Priests for Life, served as master of ceremonies, mixing humor and nostalgia as he introduced the notables at the event.

The Scheidler Family

The seven Scheidler children presented their parents with an award on behalf of the entire pro-life movement
[Photo by Luis Reyes]

Joe Scheidler presented a special surprise award to Tom Brejcha for his “Dedication to Life and Justice” in representing Scheidler and the League over the seventeen-year course of NOW v. Scheidler. In another surprise, the Scheidler children presented their parents with a beautiful statue of a baby in a doctor’s loving hands. The statue was provided by Richard and Yvonne Seeman and given on behalf of the entire pro-life movement.

“One day abortion will be as unthinkable as slavery is today.”
— Joe Scheidler

In his address to the gathering, Joe Scheidler referred to Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, and told the audience he had recently visited Jackson, Mississippi and observed that King’s dream is well on its way to being realized. He then recited the words to “The Impossible Dream” from the musical Man of La Mancha, as a tribute to the stalwart pro-life activists who have sacrificed so much to bring about respect for the unborn. He ended the evening by quoting Shakespeare’s Henry V—”We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”—and inviting the guests to join in singing the hymn from the film version of Henry V, “Non nobis Domine”—”Not to us Lord, but to you be the glory.”

Joe Scheidler's Keynote

Joe Scheidler (left) addresses the Celebration Banquet
[Photo by Brian Clowes]

The entire day was truly a celebration and renewal of commitment not only to continue the fighting for the culture of life in America and throughout the world, but to re-energize the movement and prepare for a victory celebration yet to come when the “impossible dream” will come true and, as Scheidler put it, “abortion will be as unthinkable as slavery is today.”

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Links and Related Articles

  • Fay Clayton’s Endgames—Ann Scheidler on Fay Clayton’s attempt to disrupt the Supreme Court victory as it moves back down the court system
  • Why We Celebrate—Defending our celebrating a victory even as abortion continues in our land
  • Victory Day—April 2003 Action News article by Ann Scheidler describing the day we won NOW v. Scheidler
  • NOW v Scheidler Main Page on this site
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