Anti-abortion rally sparks conversation, outrage among some Evanston residents

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Leeks Lim/Daily Senior Staffer

A woman holds up a graphic sign in protest of abortions. About 25 demonstrators lined up along Ridge Avenue Wednesday afternoon as part of the 17th annual “Face the Truth” tour, which organizers say depicts “the reality of abortion.”

David Fishman, Assistant Summer Editor

Two young women stand face-to-face: one holding a poster showing the body parts of an aborted fetus, the other with nothing but her voice.

“I’m very pro-choice,” said Sinclair Willman, a Communication junior. “Every person has a right to do with their body what they need to do. … It is critical to put (a mother’s) needs first.”

Fifteen-year-old Lucy Scheidler, on the other hand, is “definitely pro-life.”

“A human child always deserves to live, it doesn’t matter the situation,” she said. “We show these pictures to show what abortion looks like, what the human being looks like when it’s slaughtered and killed out of a mother’s womb.”

Scheidler was one of about 25 demonstrators — as old as 88 and as young as 8 — who lined up along Ridge Avenue Wednesday to protest the destructive nature of abortion and advocate for the lives of unborn children. In the course of a week, the 17th annual “Face the Truth” tour gathered about 200 people at 24 locations around Chicago to “depict the reality of abortion.”

Eric Scheidler, Lucy’s father and executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, said the tour’s goal was to cut through the “bizarre” rhetoric surrounding abortion and spark conversation in local communities.

“Our first goal is to confront people with the reality of abortion, to really get them to see it for what it is,” he said. “By showing pictures of what abortion does to its unborn victims, we … expose the truth.”

Demonstrators at the rally held posters with a variety of graphic images and slogans, including one that read “Abortion is not health care” and showed various body parts arranged to form a human child. Scheidler admitted some of the pictures were provocative, but he insisted they would trigger conversation and had historical precedence.

“Pictures have a very powerful message,” he said. “Pictures of slaves with the ropes of scars on their backs … pictures of children whose emaciated bodies and blackened faces bespeak the injustice of child labor. … Pictures tell a story and they reach our hearts and our minds.”

But Willman said the images were “unsafe and graphic” and “just upsetting.”

She added young children driving by would not understand the message and that demonstrators had not adequately explained their argument.

“Clearly the target is people driving by in cars,” she said. “So you’re just supposed to look at these posters and see these images and then what? It’s not telling you anything, it’s not educating you.”

As cars drove down the busy street, some people shouted profanities at the sign-holders while other passersby, like Willman, stopped to confront the demonstrators.

Scheidler, joined Wednesday by four of his children, said he had become accustomed to confrontation after growing up attending anti-abortion rallies. The Pro-Life Action League, an Illinois anti-abortion organization, was founded in 1980 by his father, who often brought him along to demonstrations.

Now himself a father of eight, Scheidler said he intended to continue the tradition which had become a sort of “family affair.”

“It makes sense, we’re pro-life and we love children,” he said. “We’re about the next generation and giving the next generation a chance. It’s quite fitting that there’d be a real age range here.”

Among the demonstrators Wednesday afternoon was Catherine Mieding, a 65-year-old Chicago resident who said she wanted to portray the negatives of abortion and defend human life.

Mieding said she had attended the annual tour for about 15 years.

“There are still thousands of babies being aborted after this long time and we feel that it not only hurts the babies, but it also harms the mother,” she said. “Because this is something inside you, and you’re carrying this baby and all of a sudden it’s gone.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of a Texas law that would have restricted abortion clinics to large metropolitan areas, a decision Scheidler called a “major blow” to the anti-abortion movement. Nevertheless, he said the country remained largely divided over the future of abortion policy.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed about an equal number of U.S. adults for and against abortion.

“It’s really hard to say the way the future’s going to go,” he said. “But I think it’s significant that with all the social change we’ve seen — everything from premarital sex … to gay marriage — on this issue Americans have remained divided.”

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Twitter: @davidpkfishman

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