Bill McIlvaine’s sign bends under the strain of the Chicago wind [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
This morning, a little before 7 a.m., Eric, Nate and Liza Scheidler and myself unloaded a deployment of graphic abortion signs onto the sidewalk along Wacker Drive downtown Chicago.
The temperature sat around 38 degrees, not abnormal for April, but winds around 20 miles per hour made for one of the chilliest Face the Truth days I can remember.
We were soon joined by League staffers John Jansen and Corrina Gura along with Joe and Ann Scheidler.
It was an effort to keep the signs on the ground as we waited for volunteers to arrive for this first Truth Day of the 2011 season. For a while we had dismal expectations for turnout.
But soon enough our advanced communication efforts of phone calls and e-mails paid off and we had a full-fledged Truth Tour on the ground.
Volunteers holding 18 graphic abortion pictures lined Madison Street in downtown Chicago as thousands of commuters hustled past from Union and Ogilvie stations on their way to work. Responses were mixed, ranging from reactions of disgust and disbelief down to profanity and personal insults hurled at volunteers and staff.
Positive Feedback Prevalent
But in and among the negative reactions, League Director Joe Scheidler noticed more positive reactions than normal for a busy Chicago morning.
In fact, as Joe was telling me about all the thank you’s he had received in the course of the first site, a man walked up and shook Joe’s hand saying, “Thank you, Mr. Scheidler, for all you do. God bless you. We always keep you in our prayers.”
Matt Yonke talks with a pro-choice doctor [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
I received several reactions of gratitude for the presence of the pro-life tour. I also had a lengthy conversation with a foreign-born doctor who disagreed vehemently with our pro-life stand, but was more irenic than most people I speak to on the street who hold opposing views.
She was very concerned for the fate of women in difficult situations and unwanted babies, but I was very surprised at how moved she was when I continued to bring the issue back to the human rights of the baby—rights which she in no way disputed.
I hope that our conversation and the pictures will leave her with some food for though. It is comforting to know that was only one of many conversations about abortion that the League’s display started today.
Police Presence at Buckingham Fountain
Police drive down the sidewalk along the League’s display [Photo by Eric Scheidler]
For the day’s second site, we moved on to Lake Shore Drive and Jackson Street, right on Lake Michigan next to historic Buckingham Fountain.
I love this site, not only because of the beautiful view of the lake and the picturesque surroundings, but because those factors always draw lots of tourist traffic in addition to the local car traffic on Lake Shore Drive.
1st and 2nd trimester abortion signs were deployed on both sides of Lake Shore Drive with over 20 volunteers on site.
Several conversations were sparked with passersby, but what surprised me most was the strong showing from the Chicago Police Department. They must have received an unusual number of complaints, because Chicago police usually leave our displays alone, only showing up to protect our rights.
But today, they were cruising around the whole time, sending cars driving down the sidewalk along our display, pulling their cars over in the thick Lake Shore Drive traffic, and even sending bike cops in near the end of the site to inquire about how many people were involved and other details.
Fortunately, they still didn’t disrupt the display, for all their hanging around, and by my colleague John Jansen’s count, over 10,000 people saw the Truth signs over the course of the day.
Join the Spring and Summer Face the Truth Tour
The next Truth Days will be May 18 and June 15. Stay tuned to the Truth Tour Itinerary page for details on those days as they become available as well as information on our Summer Truth Tour taking place July 8-16 with sites across northeastern Illinois.