In recent years, South Dakota has become a major battlefield in the abortion war. The state has one of the most pro-life legislatures in the nation, which in 2006 passed a total ban on abortion. A massive propaganda campaign by Planned Parenthood killed the ban in a referendum, but a revised referendum ban is up for a vote in November. Meanwhile, activists are working to shut down the state’s only abortion facility, in Sioux Falls.
And so the Pro-Life Action League was eager to accept an invitation from Al Carlson of Citizens for Life in Rapid City to bring a Face the Truth to South Dakota. On Monday, May 12, the League’s Ann, Joe, and Eric Scheidler and Matt Yonke, along with Eric’s sons Nate and Sam and volunteers Steve Klaske and Bill McIlvane packed two vans full of graphic abortion signs and headed west.
Baby Saved in Sioux Falls
The League group, including South Dakotans and a group from Iowa, met for the first Tour site May 13 at South Dakota’s only abortion clinic, a Planned Parenthood facility in Sioux Falls, which happens to be next to a day care center. The League tries to avoid holding Tours near playgrounds, so Ann Scheidler suggested taping the beautiful unborn baby signs back-to-back with the first trimester abortion signs so that no graphic signs were facing the daycare.
Ann and Joe Scheidler outside Planning Life pregnancy center in Sioux Falls [Photo by EJS]
About halfway through the stop, icy rain forced the pro-lifers to seek shelter. Local priest Fr. Brian Simon was among those holding signs and let the group take refuge in a nearby pregnancy resource center called Planning Life. Once the rain passed, the group returned to the street and stayed late to make up for the rain delay.
At the day’s second site in downtown Sioux Falls, a young woman who had just learned she was pregnant walked by the images of aborted children—which she had never seen before. She told Matt Yonke she was considering abortion, but after seeing the reality of abortion she couldn’t help but reconsider. Matt referred her to Planning Life—which he wouldn’t have known to do had it not been for providential rain that morning.
The day ended with a chilly, windy site along Sioux Fall’s busy 41st Street.
Pro-Aborts Protest Pro-Life Talks in Rapid City
After crossing the beautiful South Dakota plains May 14, the League group joined Rapid City pro-lifers in the Dakota Middle School auditorium for talks by Joe and Eric Scheidler. Pro-lifers were greeted outside by a small group of pro-abortion protesters holding signs reading “We Want Real Solutions” and “Women R Not the Enemy”.
Joe and Eric Scheidler spoke at Dakota Middle School in Rapid City [Photo by EJS]
Several of the protesters joined the audience of fifty pro-lifers for Joe and Eric’s inspiring talks. Joe explained the urgency of showing graphic abortion pictures, while Eric showed how the pro-life movement is carrying on the battle for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” launched by our Founding Fathers. The venue for these talks illustrated Eric’s point: school officials had previously denied pro-life speakers a platform, but Al Carlson successfully sued them to allow the talks to go forward.
An attempt by a group of rowdy pro-abortion teenagers to disrupt the talks was averted by the vigilance of Matt Yonke and Steve Klaske. The teens instead stole some pro-life bumper stickers and vandalized the school and some audience members cars with them.
“Good People Want the Pictures Shown”
The next morning, May 15, the League group and local volunteers returned to the streets for a Truth Tour in Rapid City. The tough group of pro-lifers held their ground against heavy winds and a noticeably cooler local reception than in Sioux Falls—though many passersby showed their support, and some even stopped to make donations to the effort. Joe Scheidler commented, “Good people want the pictures shown and the pro-aborts hate them.”
Al Carlson talks to passersby in downtown Rapid City, May 15 [Photo by EJS]
The day’s first site was along Mountainview Drive in the shopping district, followed by a stop in downtown Rapid City. The group was hosted for lunch at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and then returned to Mountainview Drive for the final site of the Tour.
Several of the pro-abortion protestors from the previous evening returned to counter-protest the Truth Tour, but their ambiguous and poorly drawn signs had little impact on the public.
After the Tour day, the League group visited nearby Mount Rushmore and dined at the Gaslight Tavern, where their waitress recognized Steve Klaske from the downtown Tour site and expressed her support for the Tour—one of the many South Dakotans excited to see hard-hitting League-style activism in their state.