Abortion protesters demonstrate in suburbs
Graphic photos of aborted babies confronted drivers in Lake Zurich, Palatine and Arlington Heights Thursday as an eight-day tour by Chicago-area anti-abortion demonstrators came back to the Northwest suburbs.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League that his father, Joe, founded, said the work done in his offices and the prayer services and "sidewalk counseling" held outside abortion facilities don't get the message out to the general public quite like taking to the streets once a year.
"You learn so much about human nature doing a tour like this," Scheidler said. "I've seen how very generous people can be. I think this is the most aggressive, bold expression of the First Amendment that is happening in our country right now."
While some people can get angry and even violent, smashing signs or throwing eggs at the demonstrators, no one has ever been seriously injured, he said.
"Those are fun adventure stories, but they're rare," he added.
During the late afternoon Thursday, Scheidler and his team of local and nonlocal volunteers were stationed at Arlington Heights and Rand roads in Arlington Heights. Signs placed a short distance before the intersection warned motorists that graphic photos were ahead.
Scheidler said his group prefers to give people the option to avoid seeing the photos by taking another route, especially if they have young children with them.
"I grew up looking at abortion photos and so did my kids," Scheidler said. "I think it takes an adult to really process what the photo is."
Scheidler said he admires a group of women who came out earlier in the day to protest his protest. Both sides prove that America is a particularly moralistic country filled with people unafraid to campaign for what they believe is right, he said.
Scheidler believes there's a lot of sensitivity about abortion among the public.
"In many ways, I think abortion is a unique issue because the injustice is hidden," he said.
His group of demonstrators received support at the Arlington Heights location from atheist and civil right activist Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove. He let a girl holding a photo stand on top of his "Rob Sherman News" truck.
Sherman doesn't see abortion as a religion issue, but a civil rights one.
"Abortion is still legal (because) fetuses don't vote or make campaign contributions, so they don't have the clout to have their safety protected," Sherman said.
But Diane Knight of Palatine, who volunteered to be part of the tour on Thursday, believes the fight against abortion is as much about protecting souls as bodies. She held a rosary in one hand while balancing a particularly graphic photo with the other.
"It really does make people notice," she said of the signs.
Younger men can get very profane shouting at the demonstrators, older people tend to accuse them of wanting to deny the rights of women, Knight said.