Have you ever seen a plastic miniature mold of a dead baby fetus?
Because I have. The abortion rally on June 26 in Oak Park, Ill., drew a crowd of about 30 people outside of Dr. Cheryl Chastine’s office. Dr. Chastine’s work as a physician spans from family practice to abortion procedures. She also travels to perform abortions at the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas throughout the year — the very same building in which the 67-year-old physician George Tiller used to practice. Scott Roeder murdered George Tiller in 2009 for providing third trimester abortions while the doctor was attending church services. It is primarily Chastine’s work in the gynecological milieu that has caused such an uprising amongst the pro-lifers of America.
The rally was scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., but people posted their picket signs outside as early as 10:15. With no clear demarcation between sides, I was forced to judge books by their covers (or, in some cases, their neon yellow t-shirts) in order to discover their ideological leanings.
Nora, a student from the University of Chicago, became involved with the cause a year and a half ago when she signed up for the Planned Parenthood Illinois Action program. It made her angry to know that some people want to ban Planned Parenthood’s plethora of services for women. She gradually started working with the Illinois Choice Action Team to support Dr. Chastine’s work and make a stand.
“We’re grateful for her,” Nora said. “She’s a hero, not a monster. These protests are actually a disruption to her life.”
Dr. Chastine has had issues renewing the lease on her Oak Park building due to the negative publicity it has attracted in recent months. Some say that she may not be based out of Oak Park much longer.
Brian, Nora’s classmate, works at the Lumen Cristi Institute in Chicago.
“I’d call the ACLU if they fired me for being here,” he said.
A student of the Divinity School at U of C, Brian brought together two of his passions: theology and activism. But were others able to do the same?
Directly beside Nora and Brian stood Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. Eric’s father and founder of the league, Joe Scheidler, was dressed in a trench coat as he hoisted a picket sign of a mangled fetus in silence while Eric spoke animatedly about what brought him to Oak Park despite the scattered showers.
Before working at the PLAL shop in Aurora, his hometown, Eric channeled his energy toward the efforts of the Gift Foundation, a Christian-affiliated non-profit focused on fundamental marriage issues. In 2002, he realized that his past had brought him to a turning point, and he became the communications director for the PLAL.
Eric’s parents began to follow the Roe v. Wade trial because they were shocked that unborn babies were not getting “the legal protection they deserve as human beings.” “
“They are fully unique, developing, individuals,” Eric said. “Pro-choice people will come to me with evidence from an embryologist. For every embryologist, I’ll find you a guy that flunked out of embryology school.”
Among the societal ills listed by Eric Scheidler is a flawed culture of sexuality that is no longer life-giving. A change in ethics and morals, he said, is the only way to move forward as a society. He drew an analogy between the abolitionists of the 19th century and the pro-lifers of today, who he claims are fighting for human rights and social justice for all.
Concerning the recent filibuster in Texas, Scheidler said, “America’s a republic, so I feel a kinship with the people [in Texas].” Scheidler also commented on Rep. Wendy Davis. He said: “That lady will have her own conscience and consequences to deal with.” Scheidler may or may not have been alluding to the biblical judgment day.
Is it possible to reconcile religion and science, rational thought and passionate sentiment? Pro-choicers and pro-lifers will continue their battle this summer at the annual NOW Conference on July 5-7, as well as at the Vans Warped Tour in Tinley Park on July 20. For more information, visit Stop Patriarchy.