Pro-Lifers pray over a constant harangue from one of the deathscorts (left) [Photo by Ann Scheidler]
Milwaukee, WI is the unfortunate home of Susan Hill’s Summit abortion clinic, one of the two named plaintiffs in the NOW v. Scheidler case. A dedicated group of prayer warriors has been gathering on North Water Street in front of Summit on a regular basis.
On January 15, at the invitation of Linda Schmidt, Director of the Milwaukee chapter of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Joe and Ann Scheidler joined sixty Milwaukee activists to pray at Summit, with the temperature at one degree above zero. At least four deathscorts guarded the clinic and hustled clients in and out of the abortion facility.
Pro-Lifers Pray for Deathscorts
During recitation of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, one of the deathscorts maintained a constant stream of mockery, obscenity and deliberate imbecility to discourage the pro-lifers. The tactic did not work. The pro-life group prayed for the end of abortion, for the women and men misled into thinking abortion solves their problems, for the workers in the abortion mill and even for the deathscorts at the clinic entrance.
Police were on hand, but there were no incidents, unlike one day last December when four pro-lifers were arrested for kneeling and praying outside Summit. The clinic and the police claimed the four were in violation of an injunction against blocking the sidewalk, though there was ample room for pedestrians and Summit clients to walk past.
After an hour in front of Summit, the prayer group proceeded to the Planned Parenthood Clinic on North Jackson Street. The clinic had closed for the day. Nonetheless the group offered an hour of prayer for the permanent closing of the facility.
Pro-Life Pols Encourage Group
Following the prayer vigils, the prayer group and others from Citizens for a Pro-Life Society gathered at Keyser Hall at St. Anthony’s Parish for a luncheon, awards presentation and talk by Joe Scheidler.
Three pro-life Wisconsin politicians spoke at the opening of the program. State Senator Tom Reynolds suggested that pro-lifers should “play the game” with their legislators, sending contributions to elected representatives when they vote for pro-life legislation. State Rep. Glenn Grothmann, who had joined the group at both prayer vigils, told the audience that their time is best spent in front of abortion clinics, but urged them to confront their politicians on Planned Parenthood’s huge government funding.
State Rep. Mark Gundrum announced that he may be running for Wisconsin Attorney General, and assured the pro-life group that they would have a friend in the Attorney General’s office.
A Zeal for Pro-Life Activism
Joe Scheidler assured the crowd, “You are not here by chance. You are called. It is a vocation to be a pro-life activist.” He said that God has given some of us a special zeal—sympathy for the plight of the unborn child.
He spoke about pro-life activities in Milwaukee over the last thirty years, praising the stalwarts who have closed five of Milwaukee’s original eight abortion mills. In the course of his talk Joe mentioned visiting the Bread and Roses clinic on Wisconsin Avenue in 1984. Inside the clinic he had spoken with staff and urged patients to turn away. He was arrested as he exited the clinic, but won his case. He also picketed the abortion clinic on Brown Deer Road when it was still open.
The program closed with the presentation of the Activist Award. Colin Hudson, who proudly holds the title “Felon for Life,” presented the award to Mary Turner, founder of Life Voice, an educational initiative distributing pro-life literature door-to-door. Mary’s colleague, Connie Marshall, accepted the award on her behalf, since she was at that moment in labor.
A Poignant Reminder
As people were packing up to leave after the program, a young woman holding a nine-month-old baby boy came up to ask Joe about his venture into Bread and Roses. She said, “I wish you had closed that place before I walked in there twenty-two years ago.”
Statements like hers remind pro-life activists of the urgent need to have a pro-life presence—prayer groups and sidewalk counselors—at every clinic whenever it is open. A pro-lifer may have been able to save this woman years of grief. She is now active at the abortion mills and working in crisis pregnancy services. But she will never forget the day she walked into the Bread and Roses clinic and had an abortion.
Milwaukee is a fine example of the success that comes from prayer and perseverance in the pro-life battle.