A crowd of over 400 pro-lifers converged on the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont on February 2 for the 22nd annual SpeakOut Illinois Conference. The Pro-Life Action League’s own Ann Scheidler and former League staffer Tommie Romano served as the co-chairmen of the conference planning committee, which comprises volunteers from over 30 pro-life organizations around the state. Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society served as master of ceremonies for the day.
Eric Scheidler: Pro-Life Top Ten
Following the showing of a trailer for the upcoming pro-life film 40, Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Eric Scheidler gave the conference’s opening presentation. “Did you wake up a little depressed and let down on November 7 last year?” he asked the SpeakOut crowd, acknowledging the sense of defeat felt by pro-lifers after last year’s re-election of President Barack Obama. Eric noted that right now, many people feel as if all the work the pro-life movement has been doing for 40 years has been in vain.
However, Eric urged his audience to take heart by highlighting the “Top Ten Accomplishments of the Pro-Life Movement” since Roe v. Wade. These include keeping abortion a hot topic in the news, shutting down hundreds of dangerous abortion clinics, enacting hundreds of life-saving pro-life laws at every level of government, establishing pregnancy centers to give abortion-vulnerable women the help they need to choose life, and—above all—saving the lives of countless unborn babies through street-level activism.
Eric also reminded the crowd that our pro-life work has profound spiritual value, beyond the formidable results we can see, and that now is no time for despair. On the contrary, this is the time to confidently redouble our pro-life work on every front.
Ryan Bomberger: Black Genocide
Eric was followed by Ryan Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation, who gave a presentation entitled “Fatherhood in the Culture of Abortion.” Conceived in rape and adopted into a multi-racial Christian family with twelve other children, Ryan now devotes his considerable talents in graphic design to fighting abortion, and has become a rising star in the pro-life movement.
Ryan’s multi-media presentation, which included many reflections on his own experience as a bi-racial man, was tremendously well received. He shared the story of launching a major billboard campaign in Georgia featuring a picture of an African-American baby with the caption “Endangered Species,” causing outrage among some black leaders.
Ryan’s provocative videos and ads highlighting the disproportionate abortion rate among black Americans have even drawn the ire of the NAACP, which he calls the “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People” over the group’s outspoken support of legal abortion. The NAACP is now trying to silence Ryan with a lawsuit alleging defamation and copyright violation, but Ryan is not about to stop telling the truth about how abortion is destroying the black community.
Star Parker: Gutsy Pro-Life Leader
On behalf of the SpeakOut Illinois Committee, Drs. Hiram and Joronda Crawford of the Pro-Life/Pro-Family Coalition presented the 2013 Henry Hyde Life Leadership Award to Star Parker for her dedication to defending life, preserving the family and renewing our inner cities. Star was humbled to receive this award and offered a passionate and at times humorous glimpse into some of the more dramatic events in her own life.
Star shared her experience of seven years of welfare dependency, including a series of failed relationships and the desolation of undergoing four abortions. She discussed how the welfare system drives women to abortion and tears families apart, but how through faith in Jesus Christ she finally rose out of her condition of dependency on government into a newfound dependency on God alone. Star went on to become a successful businesswoman, a radio personality, and eventually the founder of CURE—the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
The conference closed with a moving candlelight memorial led by Fr. Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, for the 55 million unborn babies killed by abortion since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in 1973.