Pro-lifers holding baby Malachi signs outside the AMA convention [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Seventy activists with the Pro-Life Action League lined East Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago across from the Hyatt Regency during President Barack Obama’s address to the physician delegates of the American Medical Association June 15. Obama used the ocassion to encourage doctors to support his health care plan, and the League was there to deliver a simple message: “Abortion is not health care.”
The pro-life protestors held graphic abortion signs depicting “Baby Malachi”, aborted at 21 weeks, with the caption “Abortion is not health care,” as well as Stop Abortion Now signs.
League’s Lightning Mobilization
Police protect protesters’ 1st Amendment rights [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Turnout for the protest was especially high considering the League only learned about the Obama speech late on Thursday morning, June 11, when the A.M.A. put out a press release. League Staff immediately jumped into action upon hearing the news.
While League Communications Director Eric Scheidler drafted a press release, alerted activists of the planned protest through e-mail and designed a flyer, other League staff phoned 200 local activists to invite them to attend the protest.
“The overwhelming response to today’s protest is indicative of how energized the pro-life movement is in 2009,” Scheidler 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 Congres, too.”
The heavy turnout by pro-lifers was in stark contrast to the handful of gay marriage and anti-war activists who were also protesting in the barricaded protest on the north side of Wacker Drive.
League Calls on Obama To Keep His Pledge To Reduce Abortion
The League used the occassion of Obama’s speach to the A.M.A. to call on him to follow through on his pledge, issued 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,” said Scheidler.
Specifically, the League called on Obama to ensure any reform of the nation’s health care system will:
- Provide support to the 3,000 pro-life pregnancy resource centers across the country struggling to meet the needs of pregnant women.
- Withdraw federal funding from the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, which receives $349,600,000 of taxpayers’ money every year.
- Maintain strong conscience protections for doctors and other health professionals so they are free to care for their patients without taking part in abortion.
“We invite President Obama to reconsider his position on abortion,” said Scheidler. “But whatever his stand, we can still work together to offer women and families the help and hope they need to choose life.”
League Gets the Inside Story at A.M.A. Meeting
Representing the League’s Action News, assistant communications director Matt Yonke secured a press pass and watched Obama’s speech from inside the hotel. He also spoke with several physicians attending the convention and got the inside story on health care reform.
It was clear that the majority of doctors, regardless of political affiliation, saw an urgent need for changes to the current health care system, but most thought President Obama wouldn’t get it right, at least not the first time around. Some are certain his plan will only worsen and already bad situation, while others were more hopeful that the plan could succeed with amendments along the way.
One of the doctors Yonke interviewed revealed that the A.M.A. was likely to endorse so-called “comprehensive” sex education at the convention. While a final vote was yet to be taken, the stiff resistance that met previous campaigns for such an endorsement had evaporated, with only three out of eighteen doctors speaking on the measure opposing the endorsement.
Clearly the pro-life movement has a tremendous task ahead convincing both the medical community and our politicians to respect the sanctity of life and the sacred gift of marriage. The June 15 protest was one more step forward in that process.