League First To Protest: “Abortion Is Not Health Care”

Graphic abortion signs at the League's protest of Obama at the AMA convention

Graphic abortion signs at the League’s protest of Obama at the AMA convention [Photo by Sam Scheidler]

On Thursday, June 11, the Pro-Life Action League intercepted a press release from the American Medical Association announcing that President Barack Obama would be coming to their delegates meeting in Chicago the next Monday, June 15, to unveil his health care plan. We immediately resolved to protest the event, and jumped into action to make it happen.

First, we needed details, so I called up the A.M.A. press office, identifying myself as a reporter for Action News. Not only did they fill me in on the 10:30 a.m. time of Obama’s talk, but they invited me to attend as a member of the press! I gave them my information and they told me where to pick up my press credentials on the 15th.

League’s Lightning Mobilization

With only four days to put together our protest, we first sent out an announcement via e-mail, and then backed it up by calling up 200 of our most committed activists on the phone. League Executive Director Eric Scheidler drafted a press release to be sent out that morning and designed a flyer to pass out.

Turnout for the protest was outstanding: over seventy pro-life activists came out to hold graphic abortion signs depicting “Baby Malachi,” aborted at 21 weeks, as well as Stop Abortion Now signs. To the Baby Malachi signs we had added the special caption Abortion is not health care—the first use of that slogan by any pro-life group in the country.

“The overwhelming response to today’s protestshows how energized the pro-life movement is in 2009,” Eric remarked. “They can see how high the stakes are right now, with the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history in the White House, and a pro-abortion Congress, too.”

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League Infiltrates the Meeting

Joe Scheidler holds a baby Malachi sign outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago

Joe Scheidler holds a baby Malachi sign outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago [Photo by Sam Scheidler]

While Eric and fellow League staffer John Jansen coordinated the protest outside A.M.A. meeting at the Hyatt Regency, I picked up my press pass and watched Obama’s speech from inside. I also spoke with several physicians attending the convention to get the inside story on health care reform.

It was clear that the majority of doctors, regardless of political affiliation, saw an urgent need for reform, but most thought President Obama wouldn’t get it right, at least not the first time around. Some were certain his plan will only worsen an already bad situation, while others were more hopeful that the plan could succeed with amendments along the way.

Clearly the pro-life movement has a tremendous task ahead convincing both the medical community and our politicians to respect the sanctity of life. The June 15 protest was one more step forward in that process.

League to Obama: Keep Your Pledge

We used the occasion of Obama’s speech to call on him to follow through on the pledge he made during his commencement address at Notre Dame to work to reduce abortion. “It is time for President Obama to join the pro-life movement in providing compassion and support to the thousands of women in the United States faced with unintended pregnancies who think abortion is their only option,” Eric said in the League’s press release.

Specifically, the League called on Obama to ensure any health care reform provides support to the 3,000 pro-life pregnancy resource centers across the country, withdraws federal funding from Planned Parenthood and maintains strong conscience protections for doctors and other health professionals.

The ensuing months would show that our message fell on deaf ears: President Obama has remained deeply committed to passing health care legislation that expands abortion. But we are proud to have been the first to protest Obama’s plan, and to have helped launch the pro-life resistance that has—so far—kept a pro-abortion health care bill from being passed.

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