Pro-lifers protest Governor Quinn and Personal PAC [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
One of the activities the Pro-Life Action League undertakes with the greatest zeal is crashing the abortion industry’s parties. Anytime Planned Parenthood, NARAL or another pro-abortion group holds a fundraiser or a banquet in our home city of Chicago, we show up with graphic abortion signs to make sure they can’t ignore the reality of what they’re celebrating.
Our close monitoring of pro-abortion groups offered four such opportunities in just the past year alone, and the last was the best: a November 17 protest of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn when he gave the “Pro-Choice Leadership Award” at a Personal PAC luncheon at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. Personal PAC is the most powerful pro-abortion political action committee in Illinois, dedicated to electing pro-abortion candidates and pushing pro-abortion legislation.
Quinn was awarding Jennie Goodman, the daughter of a Personal PAC board member, who had been raped as a teenager. Goodman and Personal PAC made an ad for Quinn when he was lagging in the polls in the race for the governorship last year.
In the ad Goodman lamented that she didn’t know what she would have done if she had been raped in a state run by Quinn’s opponent, pro-life State Senator Bill Brady, who was ahead in the polls at the time, implying that she would not have been able to procure an abortion. Quinn pulled ahead and won after the ad aired, prompting many to say the ad won Quinn the election.
Bishops’ Controversy Creates Opportunity
All six Illinois Catholic bishops, led by Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George, called Quinn out publicly for his egregious support for abortion and the abortion lobby, who had backed his campaign to the tune of $500,000. When Quinn said he would be giving the award anyway—even going so far as to call it “the Christian thing to do”—the League ramped up protest plans.
For two weeks in advance of the luncheon, the media followed the story of Cardinal George versus Governor Quinn. The pro-choice side tried to paint the Cardinal as insensitive to rape victims, and when he expressed regret that Goodman felt hurt by the bishops’ statement, the media falsely claimed he was backing down. However, Cardinal George stood firm in opposing Quinn’s involvement with Personal PAC.
This high-profile controversy gave the League a unique opportunity to expose Personal PAC’s radical abortion agenda through the media, support our Catholic bishops, and spread the truth that abortion is not the answer for women who have suffered the tragedy of rape.
Dynamic Protest Confronts Abortion Fans
Prior to the protest, I hit the sidewalks with Liza and Clare Scheidler, Eric Scheidler’s eldest daughters, chalking “Abortion Is Murder” in huge block letters on all approaches to the Hilton. From our protest of last year’s Personal PAC luncheon, we knew many guests would arrive on foot, and we wanted to put abortion on their minds before they encountered our graphic signs.
Liza Scheidler chalks, “Abortion Is Murder” on the sidewalk [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The protest kicked off at 10:30 a.m. with second trimester abortion signs strategically placed around both the east and north entrances to the Hilton, along with signs reading, Shame on Pro-Abort “Catholic” Quinn and Personal PAC = Abortion. Nobody arriving at the Hilton by car or on foot would be able to miss the protest.
The Hilton staff were noticably edgy about the presence of protesters and even went so far as to send their janitorial staff to mop up the League’s chalk art, violating our freedom of speech. Not only that, they sent their staff out to wash away our sidewalk chalk on adjoining streets!
Rape Survivor Tells Pro-Life Story
Mary Higgins talks to Fox News [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
Since the League protests events like this with such regularity, the media doesn’t always take interest. We were ignored when we protested the same Personal PAC fundraiser last fall. But this time we had an effective counterpoint to Personal PAC’s story that really drew media attention.
There was a striking omission in Jenny Goodman’s ad for Quinn’s campaign—the ad for which she was being awarded at the luncheon. Personal PAC exploited her story to boost Quinn’s numbers among pro-choice voters, even though Goodman did not actually become pregnant as a result of her rape. She never had to face the decision whether to abort her rapist’s child.
The League responded by offering the testimony of a woman who did have to face that choice. Longtime League supporter and pro-life activist Mary Higgins was raped at age 18 and became pregnant.
Mary chose life for her baby, placed her for adoption, and years later came to have a close relationship with her. She shared this story with all the TV, radio and newspaper reporters who came to cover the event. Mary offered a story of life and hope—a powerful, personal witness against the common assumption that rape victims need abortion.
Media outlets were eager to hear Mary’s story and press coverage of the event was outstanding. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Mary said, “I am here to represent women who are victims of sexual assault who chose life and to point out that the decision to take the life of a human being is never the answer to a violent crime. Where in the world do we punish innocent children for the sins and the violence of their father?”
Box of new literature ready to distribute [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
Mary’s testimony echoed in a new piece of literature debuted at the protest, a brochure entitled, “Abortion for Victims of Rape and Incest? No: They Deserve Better“. Hundreds of copies of the new brochure were passed out along with our protest flyer.
Weak Response from Pro-Choice Side
The League’s peaceful, effective pro-life presence was met with bizarre outbursts and ineffective counter-measures from pro-choicers. Many attending the fundraiser lashed out at pro-lifers as they walked the gauntlet of graphic images, being forced to recognize the real victims of abortion. Some yelled at pro-lifers to get a job, or get off the streets, among other common retorts.
Personal PAC’s paltry counter-protest [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
Even the luncheon’s keynote speaker, Meredith Baxter, best known from her role as the mother on TV’s Family Ties, came out to harangue protesters. Two Personal PAC operatives came out with signs reading, “Cardinal George: Stop Attacking Rape Victims”—again exploiting the topic of rape to take cheap shots at their pro-life opponents. They refused to discuss the issues with us pro-lifers, one of them declaring, “I know better than to engage.” What a stark contrast to our side, which is always willing to share the pro-life position.
Quinn Exposed, Rape Myth Debunked
The protest was a great success. Though Governor Quinn did not arrive during our time at the Hilton, doubtless hoping to avoid the protest, we accomplished our objectives. The media and Personal PAC’s guests saw the truth of abortion, Quinn’s hypocrisy in calling himself Catholic while promoting abortion was exposed to all, and the lie was put to the pro-choice myth that abortion helps rape and incest victims.
In the wake of the protest, the Illinois bishops asked for a meeting with Quinn about his abortion support as well as his persecution of the Church in forcing them to shutter their adoption and foster care services by requiring that they place children with homosexual couples. The bishops and Quinn are expected to meet by year’s end.
It’s great to see the bishops taking action like this. The League will continue to support them as they face down the temporal powers that threaten life and freedom of religion. And we will continue to ensure that no abortion celebration goes unprotested.