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12 / 02 / 2009 - Interview with Joe Scheidler: The Pro-life Legacy of George Bush
Joseph M. Scheidler is National Director of the Pro-Life Action League, a national pro-life educational and activist organization headquartered in Chicago. One of the true pro-life "greats," it has been said that Scheidler defined pro-life direct action. He has been called the "Green Beret" of the pro-life movement, and has written several books and spent countless hours on the street, counseling women and raising awareness of the evil of abortion.
Q: Looking back over the past 8 years, how do you see President Bush's contribution to the pro-life and pro-family causes?
A: He did a lot of good for us, really, with helping us with anything that we tried to get passed. I think we have made some gains with Bush in there. So he was a friend in pro-life. He talked to us at the March and in the White House: about like another Reagan in a sense.
He was pro-life. I didn't originally like his stem cell thing, but when you came to think about it, there wasn't much more he could do. There were stem cells already being used and he said, "No more."
We are going to find out how good he was when we find out how bad Obama is. That is why we just say that the people who lost faith in him (and there were some) will realize, in the long run, he was a good thing for pro-life.
Q: Why do you think some people lost faith in him?
A: Well, I think that they thought he hurt the Republican Party with the war and that he wasn't able to stop the recession and things like that. So they didn't necessarily lose faith in him because of pro-life things, but for other reasons.
I think history will show that what he did was probably the only thing he could do - to stop terrorism. I think we had to go after the Taliban and probably everybody was giving him information that Iraq was where it was at. So some people just lost faith in his other policies and maybe a lot of people just thought it was time for the Republicans to go, because lots and lots of pro-lifers didn't vote, from what I understand. And, in many cases, that lost a close election for us in some of the states.
I think Bush was good for pro-life. He always had a representative at meetings we would go to. We could reach him. We could reach Bush. We will miss him because we are going to have a real fight on our hands now with Obama. If you look at the people he is appointing, they are almost all pro-abortion - just about everybody. I was reading yesterday in World magazine, I think it was, the number of Catholics that he has, who are all pro-abortion. Most of them are for gay "marriage."
The thing I give Bush most credit for was the Supreme Court appointments.
Q: What would be the most lasting pro-life legacy that Bush has left behind in your opinion?
A: I think it would be his concern about the unborn, some of his powerful statements on pro-life. But I would say his Supreme Court appointments, just off the top. If we look back 10 or 20 years from now, we will see that that was one of the best things that he could have done. … I think the Supreme Court appointments - Alito and Roberts - will be his legacy for the pro-life movement in the future.
Q: A lot of people have said that President Bush was just a lot of talk, but not enough action. Do you think there was more that he could have done?
A: Oh sure. There is always more that can be done. And some of the things that he did, he put off. Like that thing recently, the Conscience Clause thing - he could have done that early on, and it probably won't stand very long.
The problem is that many things that the president does can be undone by another administration. The things that go through the legislature are better. He did sign everything that we wanted. I can't think of anything that went through the legislature that he didn't sign, but I don't think that much went through. We didn't have Henry anymore and some of these guys. We still have Chris Smith in there, but there were all the other issues and I think abortion took sort of a back seat.
I think Bush could have done more - sure. They all could do more. They have a position but it doesn't seem to be ironclad. Abortion is a bad thing. It is certainly immoral to cut off a baby's life, but I don't think that they feel it like we do who go out to the clinics. He didn't show up, in person, at the March for Life. Nellie always wanted him to come up and talk to us if he is really pro-life; why not come out and stand on the stage for a few minutes? Why always have to talk from the White House or have a statement read? He could have done things like that, of course; a really truly pro-life, deep, deep President would. You would, I would, Nellie would - about anybody I know would do a lot more than he did.
Q: Why do you think that he did not do more?
A: To get along with everybody. It may play to our advantage with Obama. He wants to be everybody's friend. He may not do all the things that he said he would do. He may never get a FOCA to sign. You don't like to have half the country hating you.
I think that is partly why Bush didn't do more and partly why Reagan didn't do more. Although Reagan did more than Bush did - he wrote the book, or at least had a book written that was good. I think he was a little more sincere in his defense of what abortion really is. Bush knew it wasn't good and he was against it, but I don't think he was an ardent pro-lifer.
Q: Do you think he lacked a sense of the larger consequences of abortion?
A: Yes. They almost always lack that. Abortion is such a cause of so many evils. Of course it is a result of evils too. I don't think he saw what it does to a nation. It absolutely disqualifies a person from having any part at all in making laws and decisions. A person who would kill off a whole class of people is no good for leading people. They are fake. I don't think he was that, but I don't think he saw.
You can't cavort around with people who are willing to destroy innocent human life. He is out congratulating Obama right now. That is a bunch of phony baloney. I wouldn't do that if I were president and a man who came into office and was willing to wipe out a million and a half people every year. I wouldn't have anything to do with them. I would point that out, "I can't shake your hand." I went on a program one time with an abortionist and I said, "I can't shake your hand. I just can't be that phony." He understood. He didn't like it.
Maybe that is too hard-nosed. We have to see what this is. Would you say, "Oh good luck Hitler, I hope everything works out for you, all your plans"? You couldn't do that if you really saw the evil that this man will not only tolerate, but push along. That is the way I see it.
Q: Some people would also point out that while Bush might not have done so much in America, because of the political climate, a lot of his foreign policy was pro-life, especially with the Mexico City Policy.
A: Yes. He brought that back and that was good. He stood by those things. I will give him credit.
I was just reading the other day all the other things that we have accomplished in these 8 years are significant. Foreign aid, and he went along with just about everything that we wanted and signed the bills that we wanted. He brought Jill Stanek out there on that Born-Alive thing, and there were times where he was very outstandingly pro-life.
We always want more. A President can't do everything but I think he did what he could with what he had. I trusted him and I like him. I still do.
So, it is not a perfect world, but I am concerned now that with Obama in there and the team that he has around him - the bar scene from Star Wars practically - people who are scary. These are scary people. He has picked them out of Planned Parenthood and they are abortion promoters. This is going to be a scary time. We will be out on the streets, as we always are, whether people like it or not, and showing people what abortion is and passing out fliers.
We are introducing a little handbook that we are going to give out free to everybody in the country that wants it, explaining the whole pro-life issue. To your mailman and your mother-in-law and your cousins who are having abortions, whose daughters go to Planned Parenthood. It is a nice little booklet. It is about 95 pages and it has all the questions and answers - almost all that you could think of, in short form. We are having that printed this week and I'll have some copies with me out at the March. You have to put it in peoples' heads.
People are scared. They are scared to discuss abortion. I think that half the reason that people think we are crazy for going out on the streets with the pictures is because they are afraid to do it themselves. It is effective. When, at the end of the tour, you have 20 women who decide against abortion because they saw what an abortionist is going to do to the baby. These are 20 women who came up and told us that they were cancelling their abortions. That is significant to me. You can wait 20 or 30 years to get a law passed that might save some babies and we hope it does but we can save them right on the street. We saved 7 the other day.
Q: If you could give a message to Bush, what would you say to him?
A: Oh man, at this point. I would thank him for being pro-life, for being concerned about the issue and for signing the bills that he could and for keeping the Hyde Amendment and ensuring that it got on and saying that he would veto any pro-abortion legislation. I would thank him for all of that. I would tell him to pray really hard that the administration that is in there right now doesn't do everything it can to undo the good that he did. Just pray for the next four years that we can at least keep some of the laws that he helped us get.
I would thank him and I would tell him that I am praying for him because he made a lot of decisions that would have been awfully hard to make. Was it the right thing? The Iraqi thing, was it right? I would hate to have that hanging on me. 4000 or 5000 soldiers dead and how many civilians and was it the right thing. I don't know.
I hope it was, and I would tell him "thank you."
Part II: The Pro-Life Movement Under Obama and Beyond
Q: Do you sense right now that the way to deal with the Obama administration is to work more on the street, at the grassroots level?
A: Absolutely. Grassroots, that is all we got. We are not going to get anything through Congress or the courts or anything. I would say that grassroots - out counseling these women. Talking to the women, going into the high schools, college campuses. It has to be that way. It is a conversion.
We had laws against abortion for years after the Civil War. Every state had them, and there were plenty of abortions. You have to help the women, you have to educate the public and you have to get guys acting like human beings instead of hogs, and we have to convert. The whole thing is a conversion process. Christ didn't say "Go join the Sanhedrin and get some laws passed." He said, "Go and teach." And that is what we have to do - in time and out of time. Day and night. Every chance you get. On the elevator, on the bus, on the airplane. Start talking about it.
Q: Do you think the pro-life movement has focused too much on political activism?
A: Yeah. We thought we could get it through politics, but we don't get much that way because you have to change peoples' attitudes. And we have done a lot of that.
When Roe v. Wade came down, I went back and looked at Time Magazine and Newsweek and they were all pushing this Sherri Finkbine, and having her baby aborted because she couldn't get her abortion in Phoenix and how abortion took care of your problems. It has been sold. We have been sold abortion by the secular press and by Planned Parenthood and so on, and even some of the churches who have dropped their position against abortion.
Most of the mainline churches just go along to get along with anything. Only the Catholics and the evangelicals - some of them - and people like that still have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. Most of society doesn't even know where to look to get the answers, so I think we have to teach; but I think we have had great success. Abortions are way down. I think even if they open them up, they are not going to go up that much because a lot of women have had abortions and they know how bad they are. They tell their little sisters. Women are suffering greatly from abortions, and so are men, and I think these groups are growing and they are going to have an influence.
When we go out with the pictures, I think we will have 100 people out there standing on a highway - Jack does this and Bob Newman and Troy Newman and so on, and we have an effect on people. They don't like it, but they see it. They realize how ugly abortion is and that we are deep into it as a nation and it is killing us. If we don't stop we will have lost 50 million of our social security payers, and so on. It is suicide. Abortion is national suicide and we are into it and we are suffering from it a great deal. Human beings are your most important natural resource and you can't deny that. We have lost 50 million workers, and taxpayers and doctors, etc. It is simple, but it is destroying us and the whole moral fiber of the country goes down.
Q: Besides getting out on the streets with the pictures of abortions, do you have any other ideas of how, from the grassroots level, we can engage the culture in a similar way?
A: We can get our op-eds in the paper and we can tell about what we do and hope it gets on somewhere. We can make videos - we have a bunch of videos that we send around and groups get together and watch Face the Truth and No Greater Joy, How to Sidewalk Counsel and things like that. We can make news here and there. We now have the abortionists coming out and protesting us. At Christmas, we had Empty Manger Caroling at the abortion clinic and when the media showed up and there came the pro-aborts and they acted like maniacs, which they are, and trying to stop our singing and pushing and shoving, but at least that was newsworthy. Conflict always brings a little news.
I would say show up when Obama appears to give a talk - protest, have signs, and let people know that this isn't a great Messiah that everyone thinks he is, this is a guy who supports abortion, and be present. A little tough love goes a long way. Sure, we want to convert everybody. We try to do it, but we also have to let people know what is going on in this country. … We have lots and lots of pro-life groups and there are lots of blogs and things, but we are not going to have much chance, at least in the federal government, in the Congress or the Senate. Fight - always fight - against anything that they introduce that is pro-abortion and don't give that up, but don't make that your whole end, that is to get laws passed.
Abortion laws have never been that strong. It was when they started setting up homes for these girls and helping them to keep from having abortions or to help them when they are pregnant, carry them through the pregnancy. Those things are very, very important, that you show an interest in the people involved and help them. But also, the women who have had abortions, have compassion for them, so that they can tell others, not to get involved in that.
There is a lot of work to do in that. We plan to do just about double of everything that we are doing. Our publications, our videos, our street-work, side-walk counseling, we give seminars on how to counsel at the clinic and we usually get 30 or 40 people who come and they become pretty good sidewalk counselors. There is a crisis pregnancy center and they have had 37,000 saves since they opened up. Women who actually came in and got help and decided to have their babies. You go all over the country and you have 3000 crisis pregnancy centers. They are doing a lot of work - a lot of good work.
I think God writes straight with crooked lines. I think maybe we almost need to have a crisis like this with Democratic, pro-abortion people in power. We are going to have to fight a lot harder and realize that this is a battle of conversion of the conscience of the country, and you can't just do it through law.
Q: So, for people who are despairing about the new administration?
A: No despair. Hope is a theological virtue and certainly we have great hope that good will come out of this apparent evil. Just for instance, the day after the election, I was getting calls from all over the country from people who were practically suicidal. I said, "Hell no! Our fight has always been a tough fight." It's a fight for life and that is not an easy one, because they have made it so convenient to get rid of babies and to live a life of sex and everything you want. And our job is the same, and that is to try to help guide people and to tell them the truth and that they won't be happy without it. This is just more of a challenge.
I am not despondent. I think this is going to be a period of growth in the pro-life movement, a period of big growth in the next 4 years. I understand that Obama has already started his campaign for '12. Even if he does, we could strengthen the whole effort for respect for life during these four years more than even if we had had a pro-life president. You grow in adversity, and this certainly is going to be adversity. I am not at all despondent. I could be but I don't think that way.
Q: How do you have such a positive vision?
A: I have seen an awful lot of results. I know that good wins out in the end. I know that we just have to be faithful. Mother Teresa didn't save everybody, but she said that God didn't ask us to win, He asked us to be faithful. And we will be faithful and ultimately we win in the end, because God is going to straighten things out in the end. But our job right now is to do the best we can under adversity.
Christ lived under Herod and Pilate and some pretty bad political leaders and a Sanhedrin who didn't understand, and he was constantly being persecuted by the powers of his time. And yet that was the whole point - that was how we got saved. I think these times of trouble and adversity are what prove us and test us. It is part of the whole cloth of a lifetime, of trying to do God's will and we know that we are doing God's will. We can't be in doubt about this. We are on the right side. I wouldn't be on the other side for anything in the world. Those people aren't happy and they are not going any place, and we are, ultimately. And we are helping our country. We are patriots. The real patriots of this country were for life. It is written into the Constitution and everything else, that we have certain inalienable rights and one of these rights have been taken away from a whole class of people and that can't be good. People see that.
We know that ultimately, if this country is going to survive, we will get back to those basic principles. You think that Abe Lincoln, or Washington or Jefferson, were any of these guys pro-abortion? They talk about God as a creator. They weren't particularly religious, but they had a sense of natural law and values and we have to get back to that, and that is what we are trying to do. So we are the true patriots and we are the people who ultimately win because we are on God's side. There is no question on that. Everybody says, "God is on our side." Well that might be in some wars and things, you can't know. But in this battle you know clearly whose side - God is our support and abortion is Satanic.
I talk to guys who work in the clinics and so on and they say that is their church - abortion is a sacrifice to Satan. I have heard all kinds of crap from these people. They are Satanic. Maybe not all of them, but certainly a lot of them. They actually are evil people. They will kill for money; it is a hit man job. I remember Tony Levitino, from Troy, New York told us one time - he was an abortionist - "I am a hit man. I take money to kill children." I couldn't live with myself. I said, "I couldn't live with myself." So, onward and upward. …
We are going to plug away - we are going to double up our efforts. … We want to make it easy for people to be pro-life and to be out-spoken. We have to get a little spine and do something and don't expect somebody to do it for us. "Let George do it." I have never liked that. Do it yourself. Don't let the president do it or congress. They won't do it, but we can do something.
I have to go out every week to the abortion clinic because I have to have the experience. After the war, I went to Dachau and hung around those barracks and things and got the feel of what these people went through and I have to go to the clinic and see a couple rushing in to have their child killed. I see good parents rushing to the emergency room to get their kids' leg straightened out or their eye put back in, but I see people rush into an abortion clinic to have their child killed and I have to experience that.
I will be out tomorrow morning - we're having rotten weather here - but I will be sitting out there, saying a rosary and we will be trying to talk to the girls. We have to have the experience of what is going on in our country. We are destroying our future and we have no future if we have no kids. One of my hopes is that the kids who survive realize - and they do feel this - they are survivors; a lot of their classmates are missing. I know there were some seminarians the other day and they were talking about how small their class was because 1/3 of the class isn't there and they feel that and they sensed it. They are not worth anything until they get born. We were. I was worth something. I had laws protecting me in the womb. They didn't, and they feel that. They sense that they were not worth much and now they are survivors and a lot of the friends aren't there. The people they were going to marry and the people that they were going to be in class with and so on, aren't there. We killed them for convenience.
Source: John Jalsevac - LifeSiteNews.com