James Voissem alerts passersby in Oak Park, IL that an abortionist is now working at a family practice office in their community, April 17 [Photo by Matt Yonke
On April 1, I received a top secret email from Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, based in Wichita, Kansas. Troy had just discovered the identity of an abortionist recruited to open up the abortion center formerly run by the notorious George Tiller.
Tiller’s late-term abortion clinic in Wichita closed down after he was shot and killed in 2009, and since then abortion advocates have been desperate to reopen it—which meant finding a doctor to sign on as “registered agent,” a sort of official owner required under Kansas law. Unable to convince any doctor in Kansas to do this, they began searching outside of the state.
They finally recruited an out-of-state doctor willing to sign on with the new abortion clinic, which would be called South Wind Women’s Center. But when South Wind filed their official papers, Operation Rescue was able to acquire them through the Freedom of Information Act and discover this doctor’s identity. And that’s when Troy emailed me.
The doctor’s name was Cheryl Chastine, and it turned out she practices family medicine in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb not far from Pro-Life Action League’s headquarters. Not only would she be serving as registered agent for South Wind, but she would be flying in from Chicago regularly to perform abortions there. And significantly, Troy had learned that Chastine didn’t want anyone back home in Oak Park to know about her Wichita abortion work—not even her co-workers.
League Jumps into Action
Reading Troy’s email, I recognized a unique opportunity for the Pro-Life Action League to strike a blow at the abortion industry. If we could put pressure on Chastine to drop out of the South Wind abortion center, they’d have no choice but to close their doors, because you can’t operate a medical office in Kansas without a doctor on the papers.
Not only would this mean saving the lives of countless unborn babies in Kansas, but it would be deeply demoralizing for the entire pro-abortion movement. The site of George Tiller’s old abortion center has become a kind of symbol for them—that’s why they were so desperate to reopen it.
My staff and I leapt into action and organized a protest outside the Oak Park family medical practice at which Chastine had recently begun working, a place called Total Wellness. We also designed large yellow signs in the shape of an arrow that read ABORTIONIST, and had them printed. We knew the impact these signs, along with graphic abortion signs, would have on the staff and clients at Total Wellness.
I scheduled the protest for April 17, because it was essential to act quickly. Our information was that Chastine had only been doing abortions for a few short weeks. We know from undercover operations within the abortion industry that it takes doing at least 1,000 abortions for the practice to become routine. So we had to reach Chastine while her conscience was still raw.
First Chastine Protest Hits Home
The April 17 protest was a great success. Despite the short notice and the forecasted rain, dozens of pro-life activists came out, including famed pro-life blogger Jill Stanek and Archdiocese of Chicago Respect Life Director Margie Breen, as well as an unusually high number of people attending their first pro-life protest ever. The Chicago pro-life community was really fired up by this exciting opportunity to show that Chicago is truly “Ground Zero” for pro-life activism!
League volunteers passed out hundreds of flyers which exposed Chastine’s secret abortion work and urged her patients to find a doctor who doesn’t kill babies. Every person entering or leaving the doctor’s office got one. The staff at Total Wellness were visibly shaken by our presence. We spelled out clearly how high the costs would be for Chastine to stay in the abortion industry.
Outside of the impact right there on the street outside Total Wellness, this protest yielded two immediate results. The first was a tip from an anonymous caller that very day that Dr. Chastine would be moving soon to an office right in fashionable downtown Oak Park—a tip that my staff was soon able to verify and take advantage of.
Abortion Advocates Distraught
League’s second protest at abortionist Chastine’s Oak Park office, May 22 [Photo by Matt Yonke
The second result came in the form of an email intercepted from Eleanor Smeal, head of the Feminist Majority Foundation who has been at war the Pro-Life Action League for years. Smeal was head of the National Organization for Women when they first filed suit against my father in the epic NOW v. Scheidler lawsuit. Later, she founded the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Shortly after the April 17 protest, Smeal sent out an email to all her supporters decrying the “harassment” of Dr. Chastine at her Illinois practice and the “threat” it posed to her “courageous” abortion work in Kansas. Smeal’s frantic email made my day. Not only did it confirm that the League protest had really hit home with Chastine, but it revealed that the entire pro-abortion lobby is horrified to see these protests continue.
They know it isn’t just about one abortion doctor. The abortion industry is already finding it extremely difficult to recruit new abortionists. They know that their entire future is at stake if young doctors recognize the high price they’ll have to pay for getting involved in abortion.
The enthusiasm of our pro-life volunteers coupled with the horror being expressed by the likes of Eleanor Smeal made clear that another protest at Total Wellness was in order.
League Campaign Expands
Meanwhile, my staff began to research the new location for Chastine’s office that we’d gotten from that anonymous tipster. After verifying that Chastine was indeed moving there, I wrote a letter to the owner of the building, alerting her to Chastine’s abortion work and the protests it would bring, and urging her to back out of renting space to Chastine.
I sent this letter via certified mail to two mailing addresses I found for the building owner. One letter was returned marked “refused.” Presumably she read the other one, but I did not hear from her.
So my staff began identifying all the other businesses in the building and the surrounding block. I wrote to each of them, calling on them to try to stop Chastine from moving in there—if not because they care about unborn babies, then because they don’t want their business disrupted by the protests coming if Chastine moves in.
Another avenue of protest opened up when I learned that Troy Newman had identified a second doctor linked to the South Wind abortion clinic: Arizona abortionist Valencia Stephens. Like Chastine, Stephens would be flying in from her home state to do abortions in Wichita. I’m now working with my Arizona pro-life contacts to arrange similar protests there.
Second Protest Earns Media Coverage
The League’s second protest at Chastine’s family practice office took place on May 22, and turnout was even better than for the first protest, with even more pro-lifers coming out for their very first public protest. Once again, steady rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the pro-lifers lining the sidewalks in front of Chastine’s Total Wellness office with their signs. One Dominican University student brought a sign of her own with the clever slogan, “Total Wellness for the Unborn.”
The protest went very smoothly, with Oak Park police officers being generally cooperative, as they had been the month before. However, one officer’s behavior was perplexing: he walked up and down the block, taking pictures of each protestor with his cell phone. When questioned, he brusquely replied that he had orders to take everyone’s picture.
The May 22 protest was covered by the Chicago Tribune, and significantly, Chastine refused to be interviewed for the article—another sign that her commitment to being an abortionist is flagging.
Dynamic League Action to Continue
With Cheryl Chastine still showing signs that she’s a reluctant abortionist, the League’s campaign to get her to drop her affiliation with South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita will continue. Another protest at her Oak Park office is planned for June 26, and future protests may be held at the starter home she just purchased with her new husband, once we can verify the address.
Maybe Dr. Chastine—who has only been licensed to practice medicine for two short years—got involved with South Wind abortion clinic with starry-eyed idealism about “helping women.” But now she’s learning what the real costs are of working in the abortion industry, and we have a real shot at getting her to quit.
Moreover, this dynamic campaign—including office protests, media exposure, written appeals to nearby business owners and possible “copycat” protests of Chastine’s South Wind colleague in Arizona—is sending a clear message to other would-be abortionists to stay out of the business.
Not only might this action force the closure of one of America’s most notorious abortion mills, it is already significantly frustrating the abortion industry, which is finding it harder every year to find doctors willing to use their medical training to kill babies.