The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joseph M. Scheidler in 1980 with the aim of saving unborn children through non-violent direct action.
Joe first got involved in the pro-live movement in 1972, when at the urging of his wife Ann he took the family to a pro-life leafleting day in downtown Chicago. A picture of a baby aborted late in pregnancy reminded him of his son Eric’s baby picture, and the abortion issue became personal for him. Shortly after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, Joe became a full-time pro-life activist.
After working for other pro-life organizations for several years, Joe founded the Pro-Life Action League to serve the need he saw for pro-life Americans to take bold, direct action to save babies from abortion in their own communities. His 1985 pro-life activists manual, CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, put pro-lifers throughout the United States and the world to work effectively fighting abortion.
In 1986, Joe and the League were sued by the National Organization of Women and a network of abortion facilities for the “crime” of conspiring to deprive women of the right to abortion. The case dragged on for over 20 years, including a record three visits to the U.S. Supreme Court. Joe ultimately won a decisive victory in this case in 2006.
In 2002, Joe’s son Eric came to work for the League as communications director and now serves as executive director, charting the League’s course for the 21st century. Joe passed away in January 2021.
Dynamic Pro-Life Activism
The Pro-Life Action League has become the recognized national leader in dynamic, effective pro-life activism, including:
Abortion Clinic Witness—Through prayer vigils outside abortion facilities and sidewalk counseling, we reach out to abortion-bound women and couples with abortion alternatives, confidential counseling, access to pregnancy resources and other help, and witness to the value of the lives being destroyed inside. This is the first and most important form of pro-life activism.
Public Protest—We raise awareness of the injustice of abortion through marches, pickets, prayer vigils, and displaying abortion victim images in the public square. The League works with hundreds of local leaders throughout the U.S. coordinating national prayer and protest events, such as the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.
Confronting the Abortionists—We confront abortion providers and their allies wherever they are. We protest outside abortion facilities and pro-abortion events, infiltrate their meetings and groups, investigate and expose their illegal and unseemly activity, and creatively confront them with the reality of what they’re doing. We have also published the moving testimonies of former abortion providers.
Fighting Planned Parenthood—Whether it’s fighting the opening of a new facility run by the nation’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood, or bringing pro-life witness to one already operating, the League has the tools to make a difference. As the major co-sponsor of the national #ProtestPP campaign, we coordinate pro-life protests at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country.
Speaking for Life in the Media—We have appeared on Nightline, Hannity’s America, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire, Oprah, Good Morning America, and many other programs and have been covered in Newsweek, Time Magazine, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, to name just a few.
Putting You to Work Saving Babies
The Pro-Life Action League is eager to share our expertise. See the Take Action section of this website for practical activities you can do to save babies from abortion in your own community, along with the training and tools you’ll need to be most effective.
To be an effective voice for our unborn brothers and sisters, visit the Learn the Facts section of this website. Arm yourself with the facts, figures, and reasoned arguments you need to share the pro-life message and transform our culture.
Need special help? For guidance and expert advice on everything from working with the police, to fighting Planned Parenthood, to getting your voice heard in the media, please contact us, and we will be happy to help you.
Meet the Pro-Life Action League Staff and Board of Directors
The Pro-Life Action League is blessed with a dedicated staff, devoted board of directors, and many wonderful volunteers.
Founder, Joe Scheidler
Joe Scheidler (1927-2021) was known as “The Godfather of Pro-Life Activism” for his decades of leadership on the front lines. He founded the Pro-Life Action League in 1980 to recruit and equip local pro-life leaders to save babies from abortion in their own communities.
Joe traveled the United States and the world sharing his message that individual pro-lifers can make a tremendous difference by taking direction action to fight the abortion industry, stand up to pro-abortion politicians, offer compassionate help to women considering abortion, and convert their friends and neighbors to the pro-life cause.
Find more on Joe Scheidler’s life and legacy on our About Joe Scheidler page.
Executive Director, Eric Scheidler
Eric Scheidler grew up in the pro-life movement, attending rallies, pickets, and leafletting campaigns with his parents from a young age. In 2002, Eric joined the Pro-Life Action League as communications director, and in 2009 assumed the role of executive director.
Under Eric’s direction, the Pro-Life Action League has expanded its national leadership role to include coordinating large nationwide events like the 2012 Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies and the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children, launched in 2013. Eric provides assistance to local pro-life leaders throughout the country in organizing public pro-life witness, earning media coverage, working with police, and confronting abortion providers.
Find more on Eric Scheidler’s pro-life work—including his downloadable bio and a high res photograph for media and appearances—on our About Eric Scheidler page.
President, Ann Scheidler
League Vice President Ann Scheidler’s involvement with the pro-life movement began in 1973 when her husband, National Director, Joe Scheidler began to work full-time in pro-life work. In 1980, she helped found the League.
In 1990, Ann began working part-time at the League as Assistant Director, a position which gradually became full-time. She served as Executive Director from 2000 till 2009, and has served as Vice President since then. Ann is closely involved with all aspects of the League’s work, from public relations and development to activism and outreach.
Ann is a frequent speaker on pro-life activism and sidewalk counseling, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs. She travels extensively conducting sidewalk counseling training sessions.
Ann holds a bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College. She is the mother of seven children, including League Executive Director Eric Scheidler, and has 26 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Project Coordinator, John Jansen
John Jansen came on staff with the Pro-Life Action League in 2004 to help with youth outreach and other League projects, after four years teaching Religion and Social Studies at Good Counsel High School in Chicago and at Northridge Preparatory School in Niles, Illinois.
At the invitation of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, John authored a catechetical session on abortion in the NFCYM’s 2012 publication Living and Loving Our Catholic Faith: Affirming Life. Additionally, he has appeared on local CBS and Fox News television broadcasts in the Chicago area, and has been a guest on Relevant Radio, EWTN Radio, the USA Radio Network, and numerous other local TV and radio stations across the country. John and his wife Jocelyn are the parents of ten children, and they live in the Chicago area.
Communications Director, Matt Yonke
Matt Yonke came on staff with the League part time during the 2007 Face the Truth Tour at the invitation of Tour coordinator Eric Scheidler, and became a much valued member of the Tour team. When the pressures of the League’s fight against Planned Parenthood in Aurora, Illinois required Eric to hire an assistant, Matt was the obvious choice. He came on staff in October, 2007.
Matt guides much of the League’s communications via email, phone and websites as well as coordinating protest efforts on the streets and speaking on pro-life topics to youth and adult audiences. Matt also enjoys documenting League events with photographs, video and updates on the League’s blog and Action News newspaper. Matt lives in Millbrook, Illinois with his wife Erin and their seven children.
Pro-Life Action League Board of Directors
The Pro-Life Action League is governed by a board of directors consisting of:
- Christopher Carney, board member since November 25, 2014 *
- Mark Voissem, board member since November 25, 2014 *
- Chris Iverson, board member since November 25, 2014 *
- Henry Davison, board member since November 25, 2014 *
- Ann Scheidler, board member since June 1, 1980
(* indicates independent board member)
Financial and Legal Information
The Pro-Life Action League is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, funded solely by charitable donations. Below you can find the most current Form 990, audited financials and other legal information about the Pro-Life Action League:
- Form 990 for Fiscal Year ending May 31, 2023. (Most current available) [PDF]
- Audited Financials for Fiscal Year Ending May 31, 2023. (Most current available) [PDF]
- Policy on Political Activity [PDF]
- Articles of Incorporation [PDF]
- Bylaws [PDF]
- Conflict of Interest Policy [PDF]
- Whistleblower Policy [PDF]