The passing of pro-life icon Joseph M. Scheidler, 93, former National Director of the Pro-Life Action League on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, is “absolutely fitting,” his son Eric Scheidler told CNA after confirming his father’s death on Monday, January 18.
Joe Scheidler left his career in public relations to devote his life to the pro-life movement in 1973, immediately after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in favor of legalizing abortion.
He was especially famous for his long legal battle against the National Organization for Women (NOW), which cost him and his wife Anne many years of financial and emotional distress but ended in a landmark decision securing the right to protest abortion facilities around the country.
“The Pro-Life Action League is grieved to report the passing away of our founder, Joe Scheidler, ‘the Godfather of Pro-Life Activism.’ Joe died this morning peacefully, surrounded by the family of which he was so proud,” tweeted his organization on Monday.
His son Eric, Executive Director of the Chicago-based pro-life organization, said “He marched with Dr. King in 1965, and the impact it had in him is to see that regular people can have a real in the cause of justice, and thus decided to recruit regular Americans to the fight in favor of life and against abortion.”
Scheidler started the pro-life “direct action” of protesting and witnessing pro-life options in front of abortion clinics, something many early pro-lifers considered as counterproductive.
He created the Pro-Life Action League to train regular citizens to learn how to organize and protest locally.
For that purpose he wrote the original book on fighting abortion, “CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion” in 1985, which he updated in 1993; and produced the landmark video on sidewalk counseling, “No Greater Joy.”