SpeakOut Illinois Conference Inspires Hope—and Action

Lobby Day participants

Some of the seventy pro-life Illinoisans who joined the SpeakOut Lobby Day in the state capital of Springfield, March 8

Nearly forty pro-life organizations in northern Illinois sponsor the annual SpeakOut Illinois Conference and Memorial. On January 28, the conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Oakbrook featured Abby Johnson as keynote speaker. Abby shared her story of serving as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic and coming to the realization that they were actually killing innocent babies in her facility.

Abby’s testimony was both powerful and hopeful. She revealed that she has launched an outreach to other abortion clinic staff members who have left the abortion industry or are looking for a way to get out of their involvement with abortion and Planned Parenthood.

Workshops Go In-Depth

In addition to Abby’s talk, SpeakOut included four workshops. Allan Carlson, President of the Howard Center, spoke on the alarming trend to consider children a burden rather than a treasure.

He believes this trend must and will turn around if civilization is to be saved. John-Paul Deddens put on a workshop on how he engages college students in the fight for life. Illinois is the only state with its own chapter of Students for Life. John-Paul and his associates are doing a capital job of recruiting and supporting pro-life leaders on campuses throughout Illinois campuses.

Tom Ciesielka, president of TC Public Relations, spoke on the importance of using various communications media—and using them smartly—to get the pro-life message out to the general public. Many pro-lifers are skeptical of the media and avoid it, but Tom explained how a good news story will make it to the news desk and urged his listeners to keep a positive attitude.

Ralph Rivera, David Smith and Bob Gilligan conducted a panel discussion on the challenging politics of Illinois. Pro-life legislators faced an uphill battle trying to pass the Ultrasound Opportunity Act, which would require that if an ultrasound is performed in an abortion clinic, the woman be offered an opportunity to view it.

These pro-life lobbyists, who spend most of their working hours in Springfield, emphasized how important personal contact with our elected officials is. And so after lunch conference emcee Peter Breen announced that the funds raised during the conference’s special collection would be used to underwrite a bus trip to state capital.

Before the closing memorial service, Breen presented the Henry Hyde Leadership Award to Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago. The Cardinal offered sobering words about the battles before us as people of faith, prolife people, but impressed upon the audience of 400 that their efforts on behalf of life matter very much, both to the community and to our loving God. The conference concluded with a moving memorial of the unborn, highlighting the many different ways to take pro-life action, from pregnancy assistance to grassroots protest.

SpeakOut Lobbies for Ultrasound Bill

On March 8, seventy committed pro-life voters boarded two buses from the Chicago area to spend the day in Springfield. They met individually with their representatives, urging YES votes for the Ultrasound Opportunity Act, then gathered for a box lunch at the Springfield Pastoral Center for debriefing.

Even though the Ultrasound Opportunity Act did not make it into law in 2012, the current politics being so unfavorable to the pro-life cause in Illinois, the SpeakOut Lobbying Day helped to lay the groundwork for future efforts to pass this and other pro-life legislation. It also steeled participants’ resolve to seek the electoral change that will make it possible to finally pass those bills.

This fruitful day was also a testament to Speak Out’s effectiveness in educating and equipping Illinoisans to put their pro-life convictions into effective action.

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