Bishop Daniel Conlon calls the faithful to conduct pro-life activism with love. [Photo by Matt Yonke]
October 2 marked the sixth anniversary of the dark day when Planned Parenthood opened their first “mega-clinic” in Aurora, Illinois.
The Pro-Life Action League was there with over 150 local pro-lifers to mark the anniversary and re-commit ourselves to the ongoing fight against the facility.
Back in the summer of 2007, the League learned that a building under construction in Aurora—the same town where our Executive Director Eric Scheidler lives—was to be the site of a new abortion clinic.
Not only was there a new clinic in the works, only months from opening, but it was the first of Planned Parenthood’s new mega-centers—large, regional clinics meant to replace multiple other abortion facilities in an area and consolidate their business.
Over the next several months the League directed a massive wave of public outcry against the facility with thousands coming out to pray, protest and speak to the City Council. In the end, the facility was allowed to open, but opposition to its presence in Aurora has continued steadily ever since.
Pro-Life Presence in Aurora Outlasts Its Detractors
Eric Scheidler [Photo by Matt Yonke]
Last night, pro-lifers gathered as we have every year to remember what we’ve been through and take comfort in the good God has brought out of the pro-life outreach that has just started its seventh year.
Eric welcomed the crowd and recalled how then-CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois Steve Trombley said back in 2007 that once they opened their doors, all the pro-lifers would go home.
Ironically, Trombley, who had been re-assigned to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England a few years ago, has recently been fired from Planned Parenthood, and our pro-life presence is still going strong!
Pro-Life Mom Turned Pro-Life Coordinator
Kathleen Dietz [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The first speaker of the evening was Batavia, Illinois mother and pro-life activist Kathleen Dietz. Kathleen is a prayer warrior and new sidewalk counselor, and she’s also co-coordinating her second 40 Days for Life campaign at the Aurora facility.
She shared about being pulled out of her comfort zone by her parish priest who eased her into directing the respect life group at her church which led to her very active role in the pro-life presence at Planned Parenthood Aurora today.
She also reflected on the great blessings she’s seen come out of the work—even babies whose lives have been saved from abortion because of her efforts!
Teens Saving Lives in the “Live Pro-Life” Club
The next speakers were David Bergquist and Ashely Houdek from Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. David serves as the moderator for the the school’s pro-life club, Live Pro-Life, and he shared how the club got its start from classroom discussion about abortion and the philosophy that underwrites its acceptance in our culture.
Ashley Houdek [Photo by Matt Yonke]
The students got so fired up from talking about the issue that they asked if they could take some action. David was more than happy to oblige, and arranged for a group to attend a protest at the Aurora abortion facility. Following that, the group received sidewalk counseling training and has become one of the most dynamic forces saving babies all over the Chicagoland area.
Ashley shared about the heartbreak and helplessness she felt the first time she came to Planned Parenthood and saw women go in to kill their babies while she could do nothing. But she didn’t stop there. She let those emotions drive her to learn how to be an effective witness for life to abortion-bound women—many of them her high school peers.
Tom Brejcha Reminds Crowd That We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!
Tom Brejcha [Photo by Matt Yonke]
After Eric and I led the crowd in singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” while we accompanied on banjo and guitar, we heard from Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha.
Tom has overseen the legal defense of the League for decades, including the infamous NOW v. Scheidler trial and the many lawsuits that have arisen out of the fight to shut down Planned Parenthood Aurora.
Tom reminded us of the need to stay steadfast in the fight for life, even when our prospects of winning seem remote. The NOW v. Scheidler case has been going on for 28 years, and though we’ve been to the US Supreme Court three times and the victory has been won, we’re still fighting to get court costs that the court ordered our opponents to pay! “Six years?” Tom said. “That’s just phase one!”
Bishop Conlon Urges Love in Pro-Life Ministry
Finally, we were honored to hear from the Most Reverend Daniel Conlon, Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet. Bishop Conlon talked about the need to ground all our pro-life activities in love. Since our pro-life convictions are based in our faith, love is the best language we can use, and must use, to communicate the pro-life message to those who do not share our faith.
Sarah and Mary Scheidler place their flowers in the memorial outside Planned Parenthood [Photo by Matt Yonke]
After Bishop Conlon’s moving talk, we sang Amazing Grace, a hymn that’s been foundational to the pro-life effort in Aurora since the beginning, and processed in silence to the place where our sidewalk counselors stand across the street from Planned Parenthood. There, each participant placed a red carnation as a memorial for the thousands of babies who have lost their lives there in the last six years.
Since the struggle with Planned Parenthood in 2007 was my entry point into the pro-life movement, it’s always a poignant time of year for me when we mark this anniversary. Last night’s vigil was an inspiring reminder to stay strong in the fight and always walk in love as we seek to save babies from abortion and offer hope and help to women seeking abortion.