Face the Truth Tour in Joliet, IL [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
As we’ve done annually since the year 2000, the Pro-Life Action League set out on July 10 for our annual “Face the Truth” Tour, bringing images of the victims of abortion to 24 major intersections across northeast Illinois to expose the horrific reality of abortion.
This year’s tour reached hundreds of thousands of pedestrians and motorists with the truth about abortion, and we distributed over 8,000 pieces of pro-life literature!
Many of the most impactful moments of any Face the Truth Tour come in the form of individual conversations with passersby, and this year’s was no exception.
On the first day of the Tour in Joliet, a man driving by parked his car and came over to talk to the nearest signholder, Luann Bloom, who happens to be one of our most seasoned volunteers. The man asked made it clear that seeing our signs had made him very upset, and it soon became clear that abortion had touched him personally.
Fighting back tears, he got back in his car and drove away, but came back to talk again with Luann about ten minutes later.
He then revealed that a former girlfriend had had an abortion against his wishes, and he and Luann went on to have a lengthy conversation in which he expressed his deep frustration at having had no say over the decision to take his child’s life.
Championing the First Amendment
The following day our first stop was a stone’s throw from Planned Parenthood’s massive abortion facility in Aurora, and we saw one of our largest turnouts: over 70 people! Our next stop was the town next door, Naperville. As we positioned signholders along Washington Street, we noticed that a resident had placed his own sign warning us that a local ordinance “prohibits demonstrating in front of private residences.”
Face the Truth Tour in Aurora, IL [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
League executive director Eric Scheidler seized on this opportunity and shot an impromptu video in which he explained that in some cases, protests targeting private residences have been prohibited by courts, but that a Face the Truth Tour—in which the target audience is the general public—is an entirely different matter, and is clearly legal. He also noted that one “side effect” of our Face the Truth Tours is to keep the First Amendment alive, as pro-lifers are exercising First Amendment rights in a way that no one else is, thereby securing them for all Americans throughout the coming years.
This is what a Face the Truth Tour Looks Like
Following a break for rest and worship on Sunday, the Tour resumed Monday in west suburban Elmhurst. A raging thunderstorm swept through the area a few hours prior to our scheduled start time, and although it initially looked as if rains might return, the rest of the day was dry, thanks be to God!
After we positioned all of our signs, Eric and League staffer Matt Yonke filmed a video showing what the Truth Tour looked like from the point of view of someone in a car driving by:
Tuesday was our first of two days in downtown Chicago, and as always, they were eventful.
We began the day at noontime in Daley Plaza, which also put us directly in front of the Cook County Building. One of our longtime volunteers, Beth Roland, spotted Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle exiting the building, and pointing to the abortion victim on her sign, Beth said, “Cook County Hospital should stop doing this.” One might have expected Preckwinkle to ignore the remark, but instead she replied, “We’re proud we do it.”
Her response is all the more astonishing considering that just hours before, the Center for Medical Progress had just released its first bombshell video in which Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatola is shown discussing the details of harvesting aborted babies’ body parts, and in which she specifically mentions that Cook County Hospital is a major source for obtaining such body parts from babies following abortions.
Indeed, on several occasions during our time downtown, we heard pedestrians talking about this behemoth of a scandal after seeing our signs.
Two Assaults in Two Days Downtown
For our last site of the day we positioned ourselves along one of the main routes to two of downtown’s busiest train stations, giving us a prime opportunity to reach tens of thousands of commuters. While many offered us thumbs-up and kind words, others offered rude gestures and unkind words…or worse.
Face the Truth sign splattered with paint in Chicago [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
At the height of rush hour, a cyclist sped by and hurled a bottle of black paint at one of our signholders, getting paint all over his face and all over his sign depicting a baby killed by abortion in the first trimester. The incident happened so fast that the cyclist was gone before he could be caught. Fortunately, though, the signholder suffered no injuries, and although it took Eric Scheidler a good deal of paint thinner to clean the sign later that night, it was back out on the streets of downtown Chicago the next day.
On that day, one of the highlights was one of our favorite stops, alongside the world-famous Buckingham Fountain. There, our signs stretched for three-quarters of a mile along Lake Shore Drive, reaching tens of thousands of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
At the end of the day we were across the street from the Sears Tower, and for the second time in as many days, a man passing by the Tour decided to express his disapproval by resorting to assault, this time by knocking down one of our signs. That sign was held by League national director Joe Scheidler, and Matt Yonke and I both happened to be standing close to him when the incident happened. We immediately gave chase and pointed him out to a group of Chicago police officers who were standing half a block away, and they immediately apprehended him.
Minds Changed in the Northwest Suburbs
The following day we visited three Northwest Suburbs, and although we encountered some light rain during in Lake Zurich, it certainly didn’t depress our showing, as more than 70 volunteers came out to hold signs! At our last site of the day in Arlington Heights, veteran pro-life activist Wanda Glitz had an instructive encounter that illustrated to her the value of simply listening and letting passersby say their piece during a Face the Truth Tour:
Another noteworthy encounter with a passerby occurred the following day in south suburban Oak Lawn. Tour volunteer Maria was holding a sign with the words “Pregnant? Need Help? Call 1-800-848-LOVE” following our signs depicting abortion victims. A woman approached her and said, “I wish you would have had this sign years before I had my abortion.” Maria prayed with her and advised her to get in touch with the post-abortion ministry Project Rachel, which she said she would do.
Great Success and Horrible Rain on Final Day
On the Tour’s final day, we visited the busy intersection of Cicero Avenue and Elston Avenue on Chicago’s Northwest Side, half a block away from the notorious late-term Albany Medical-Surgical Center abortion facility, which the Pro-Life Action League has pushed to the brink of closing.
Young woman who resisted abortion speaks to Ann Scheidler [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Our next stop was famously progressive Evanston, where we encountered a woman who told us that her boyfriend had tried to force her to have an abortion two years ago, but she refused. She is now the mother of an 11-month old son, and she hopes to start soon sidewalk counseling!
Our last site of the Tour was in north suburban Lincolnwood, where we were joined by a family that had driven all the way from Indiana to join us. Skies were clear as we began setting up, but they quickly darkened, and we witnessed numerous cloud-to-ground lightning strikes that were a bit close for comfort.
Once the inevitable rains came, they came with a vengeance, along with huge gusts of wind. Normally, we try to keep the signs displayed even if it rains, but in this case, we had no choice but to bring them in. It took some time, but a fully soaked group of Tour staffers and volunteers eventually managed to get them all loaded into our vans.
Still, despite our last site having been cut short, our spirits remained undampened, and everyone gathered afterward in Joe and Ann Scheidler’s backyard—under canopies, as the rain continued—to share food and fellowship after having developed a great bond over the course of the previous eight days.