Joe Scheidler, the godfather of Pro life activism came to town several weeks ago to see his partner in crime Gianna Jessen, survivor of an abortionists attempt on her life. Joe met Gianna when she was just a teen and honored her at that time for all she had been through and for her courage in speaking out on behalf of her peers who even today are under assault in abortion mills around the world. Gianna is a formidable opponent of those who would perpetrate such a holocaust. Joe is no slouch in that category either. Sued many times by abortionists and their cohorts. Dragged thru courts for DECADES in the ultimate tribute to his efforts to stop abortionists and protect those being dragged to the slaughter. Joe literally wrote the book on how to stop the abortionists dead in their tracks regardless of what Congress, our partial birth abortion President, or even the Supremes might think: “Closed. 99 Ways To Stop Abortion”. And effective he has been. As have been the tens of thousands who practiced what he preached around the country. Many learned those ideas many times removed from Joe and to this day have no idea of his influence on their actions. We have done a terrible job of telling our history. But abortion mills continue to close.
Like the widow and the unjust judge, Joe knew from the git go that persistence would convince many of the unjust that it’s just not worth it. And make no mistake about it, every mom turned away from a mill is a net loss on the abortionists’ balance sheet.
Joe made abortionists uncomfortable in many ways. After all abortionists never figured their neighbors would be alerted by picketers as to how they make their mortgage payments. Nor that their legitimate business would be visited by those who would warn their patients that their “doctor” was also an abortionist.
At first abortionists sought refuge by nestling in amongst other legitimate businesses. But over time, as those businesses became inconvenienced by the picketers, sidewalk counselors, graphic signs, etc., abortionists became less welcome in the neighborhood. Eventually they became more and more isolated.
Abortionists sued Joe and those of us who followed his strategy because they could see the handwriting on their ledger books. They knew first hand that if Joe’s ideas caught on it spelled the beginning of the end for their lucrative business. They readily admitted as much in their court filings and depositions. In fact It was the basis of their Rico lawsuit.
And for many that’s exactly what happened. And abortion mills continue to close. And for those who survived they found that even landlords and businesses that at first sided with the abortionists, when THEIR bottom line began going south, left abortionists further isolated. Eventually many had to spend their profits on stand alone, concentration camp fortresses like the windowless blockhouse that is Planned Barrenhood’s mill in St. Louis. In addition, the number of abortion mills in this country, since the expansion of activism in 1980 has been in a steady decline.
Imagine if the entire Christian church and ALL people of good will had embraced the wisdom Joe represented? Keep in mind Joe managed this feat with the tiniest remnant of the tiniest fraction of the Church. To make matters worse, many instead followed Peter’s example “I do not know that man!” and betrayed Joe (and more importantly the unborn) with their words and inaction.
But Joe persisted, as the head of a most eclectic loosely affiliated group of independents who had in common our faith and the persistence of that widow. So while we will not be satisfied until EVERY abortion mill is closed and the THIRD Nuremberg Trial is held (The second was organized by Joe in 1985 in Nuremberg, Pennsylvania), it’s well past time that we claim the ground that we, with God’s help, have taken back from the Enemy.
Which is the reason for this entry. And the OTHER reason I invited Joe to St. Louis a few weeks ago. I told him to bring a copy of his book, as we were going to go on a most unique book tour. And tour we did: the sites of 5 of the 7 area mills we managed to close in St. Louis as well as the single remaining free-standing abortion mill in Missouri.
What follows is the narration of that tour, mill by mill.
I picked up Joe from the airport and he decided to hit the ground running. Our first stop on the tour was the former site of WomenScare abortion mill in nearby Bridgeton. Hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings were butchered here. Hundreds of arrests occurred at this site in the 80’s. This was the same mill where we retrieved the remains of some of the victims from the trash and provided them a proper burial.
Proving yet again that my ways are not Gods, as we pulled up I thought we ought to bulldoze these sites. I was to learn God had other ideas. Joe posed with his book for pictures first outside the office condominium and then inside the atrium by the door to the actual mill.
Inside were the new owners. Soon one was outside. Eric Harris. I explained that it used to be an abortion mill. He said he was told it was a medical office and that the owner was unable to sell it for the longest time. I asked if he was a believer, recommending his pastor come to pray over the site. He said theirs is a Christian group and one of the owners IS a pastor. It seems God decided to forgo my idea of the bulldozer and instead bring His blessing upon this terrible site. To sanctify this desecrated ground with His work. The owner retrieved the old nameplate for the mill and took our pictures. We had a most amazing visit.
As we drove away I explained to Joe that this was the mill where Judge Harold Johnson wrote his own chapter of “Closed”. You see, Judge Johnson knew what to do when confronted with a holocaust. When hundreds of cases against Pro-life activists came before him, Judge Johnson threw them out. Every one. Writing the 100th way to stop abortion, by refusing to check his faith in as he put on his robes. Take note Notre Dame! Judge Johnson didn’t wait on the Supremes to give him the green light to do the right thing.
Our next stop was the site of the now defunct Ladies Center abortion mill a few miles away. Also the site of hundreds of arrests. Activists lived out many of the chapters from Joe’s book here including sidewalk counseling and picketing, not only the mill, but also the manager’s and later the judge’s home.
We stood at the exact spot where decades before I sat in a paddy wagon with Joan and Muriam Andrews as we hatched a plan that was later to become Our Ladies Inn (a home for expectant moms and their families that has since expanded to two locations and has served thousands of moms)…more on that later.
Unlike Bridgeton, this location remains unoccupied. Perhaps it’s haunted by the actions of another Catholic judge, Richard Provasnic, who did not follow Judge Johnson’s example. Instead Provasnik took his que from the judges of the Third Reich, protecting and enabling the perpetrators by JAILING, among others, the Corrie ten Boom of the abortion holocaust: Joan Andrews for almost a year. Later another Christian judge followed Provasnic into the pit by superseding the example of Judge Johnson and jailing several activists for our rescue work at the Bridgeton mill. It seems the docket will be quite full at the Nuremberg III.
It seems the spirit of Evil continues to haunt this location as we were there only a few minutes, long enough to take a few pictures, and up pulled the property manager. His first words were “You need to leave!” Now this location is a strip mall, and we could have easily been prospective renters. But perhaps he sensed goodness. I explained why we were there. “I’m calling the police.” he barked. I was flooded with memories. It was like being in a time warp. “I’m dialing!” he said with an eerie scowl on his face. There was no reasoning with him. And there stood Joe, as the car inched forward, still holding a graphic of his book “Closed”. Our mission complete, we left.
Next stop was a visit with the a man who was on the front lines before there were front lines: Orville Burkemper. Orville’s been at it since 1967. A man whose physical strength was matched only by his strength of character. A man whose actions wrote the preface to Joe’s book long before it was written. Once he single-handedly emptied Planned Barrenhood’s abortion mill waiting room. Orville entered that waiting room that Christmas Eve morning dressed as Santa. He offered each of the 14 moms a gift for their child. Instructing them to open the gift with their child next Christmas. He said one by one, gift in hand, the moms left. Until the room was empty. And so was Santa’s bag.
These are men who helped end abortion one child, one abortion mill at a time.
Next we visited the Thrive mobile medical center parked across the street from Planned Barrenhood. Purchased with the fruits of the St. Louis area Knights of Columbus’ Baby Bottle Campaign. A grass roots effort which raised a half a million dollars in two years as part of an effort to end abortion in Missouri.
Working hand in hand with our sidewalk counselors, Thrive has been the refuge in the midst of the holocaust. In fact the next day, when Joe returned to the front lines, he would experience first hand just how successful his strategy had become. Thrive St. Louis Mobile Medical Center
Next, Joe and I then toured Our Lady’s Inn, the thriving maternal aid home(s) which were born out of the rescue movement in St. Louis. The brick and mortar answer to critics who sought to distract from the murderous reality of what abortionists do to human beings by insisting that we don’t do anything for the moms. Odd isn’t it that the “choice” people operate exactly zero maternal aid homes. That job is the job of the “anti-choice” people. Go figure.
That night we were off to see Gianna Jessen speaking at the Crisis Pregnancy Center’s annual banquet. If you’ve never heard her speak put it on your bucket list. It was a wonderful reunion of two greats of the pro-life movement. Gianna a hero for surviving the unsurvivable, and Joe for his relentless pursuit of those who would attack Gianna’s peers. It was an inspiring evening.
Early the next morning Joe was practicing what he preaches on the front lines at the only remaining free-standing abortion mill in Missouri: Planned Barrenhood in St. Louis. And with the presence of Joe Scheidler and Gianna Jessen in our city, our efforts were rewarded that Saturday as four moms left that terrible place. Three crossed the street to the Thrive mobile medical center. The fourth mom, Shirrell, literally ended up in the arms of Mary Maschmeier of Defenders of the Unborn. Together they worked out a plan to rescue both mom and her child. Shirrell told Mary that the baby’s father was trying to force her to kill their child. He sat in his Cadillac SUV on the lot and as Mary and Shirrell met, circled the block around them. The mother explained that as she sat in the waiting room, next to be called back to have her child killed, she decided to accept our help. She and her child saved, literally at the 11th hour, thanks to the faithful presence of the Christian Church on the front lines.
From there the tour continued as Joe visited my personal favorite: the hole in the ground that used to be Planned Barrenhood. Forced to retreat to their current stand alone fortress, no longer welcome to hide among legitimate businesses. The almost four decades of Christian presence at Planned Barrenhood has taken its toll.
The presence at Planned Barrenhood was first organized by Mildred Tickacheck, a visionary who knew from the beginning that the Church belonged on the front lines. Mildred set the standard upon which Joe, Sam Lee, and other activists were later to build.
Joe’s final stop was Regency Park, the former site of no less than THREE abortion mills. All of which were closed thanks to the efforts of activists utilizing many of Joe’s strategies. This location was the site of the highest and lowest moment of the Church in St. Louis. The former represented by Sam Lee’s success in finally getting Christians by the hundreds to the front lines, planting themselves between the abortionists and their intended victims. Countless lives were saved thanks to that activism.
Add to that this. This location was the scene of the (then) largest rescue in the history of the movement. A rescue on which Randy Terry cut his activist teeth. Randy was to later organize Operation Rescue which spread large scale activism around the country. And continues his defense of life to this day.
The low point was perhaps the most shameful incident in the history of the Church in St. Louis. In 1980, the then newly arrived Archbishop May stood in front of the doors of these abortion mill, with local news cameras filming, and instructed the activists to leave. That’s right: LEAVE! And obey “just laws of a municipality.” As the video played out on the news that night, I watched in disbelief as behind the Archbishop (God rest his soul) could be seen parents entering the mill to have their children killed! Like a trainload of holocaust victims filing in behind him. I was stunned. Stunned!
Fortunately, while many followed the Archbishop’s direction, many others continued our faithful presence and after hundreds of arrests and many jailed for their life saving work, ALL of these mills were CLOSED.
Joe ended his whirlwind tour of St. Louis that day at the Liferunners picnic (www.liferunners.org). Faithful to his chapter calling on activists to end each day of rescue with some celebration, Joe celebrated with fellow activists. Supporting the efforts of Liferunners who seek to keep the abortion holocaust ever-present in the psyche of America.
From there it was off to the airport to return to his native Chicago where his son Eric continues the work his father pioneered. Not bad for a WWII veteran who knew, when he encountered the abortion holocaust, that all people of good will belong on the front lines. And provided others who might choose to follow him the ultimate road map: “Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion.”
We have to end this madness.