Pro-life pioneer Joe Scheidler, who has often been described as the “Godfather” of the American pro-life movement, passed away today.
Scheidler was heralded as one of the early pro-life leaders to participate in protests at abortion clinics and to encourage Americans to vocally oppose abortion by speaking out for unborn children at the very abortion centers where they are killed.
Scheidler has been fighting for the rights of the unborn even before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. 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. Scheidler’s commitment and determination have been an inspiration for generations of pro-life activists who have followed.
Scheidler was so effective in protesting abortion businesses that the feminist group NOW filed a RICO lawsuit against him and accused him of being an illegal mobster targeting abortion centers. The Supreme Court considered the lawsuit and subsequent legal actions three times and ultimately decided in his favor.
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In May, 2013, Seventh Circuit Judge Charles Norgle awarded $63,391.45 to the Pro-life Action League in a detailed opinion after Scheidler requested that he be reimbursed for legal expenses associated with the lawsuit and harassment from pro-abortion feminists.
In 1994 a 9-0 decision allowed the case to go forward to trial as a civil RICO action. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 to overturn the District Court jury’s 1998 guilty finding against Scheidler and his co-defendants. And in 2006, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled again in favor of Scheidler, putting to rest an effort by NOW to keep the case alive in the Seventh Circuit.