Joe Scheidler was standing on Chicago’s Cicero Ave. at 43rd Street on July 14, holding signs showing aborted babies and those still in-utero, when he learned the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) had released its first video.
Scheidler, a 42-year veteran of the pro-life movement, heads the Pro-life Action League. At 87 years old, he still pickets on Chicago’s streets and outside abortion facilities every week. His organization leads activist efforts that include prayer vigils, marches, and picketing.
But Scheidler has never seen any pro-life effort draw national attention the way CMP’s videos have.
When Scheidler and his wife Ann returned home from picketing that Tuesday in July, he watched the first video. For years, a segment of the pro-life movement has used graphic images during abortion center protests to unmask the horrors of abortion. But while those images have been largely ignored, CMP’s videos have racked up millions of views.
“I couldn’t really believe that this was being shown publicly,” Scheidler said. “We’ve had so much trouble getting it out over the years.”
About 15 years ago, Life Dynamics, a pro-life organization run by Scheidler’s long-time friend Mark Crutcher, released similar information about the fetal tissue trade that Congress, national media, and the general public ignored. But thanks to advances in investigative techniques and information dissemination, the response this time has been vastly different.
“We’ve known this for years and years, it’s just that David went in with hidden cameras,” Scheidler said, referring to CMP founder David Daleiden.
In the late 1990s, Life Dynamics presented evidence indicating an illegal trade in aborted fetal tissue. The investigation relied heavily on testimony from Dean Alberty, a whistleblower who worked at a tissue procurement company.
On March 9, 2000, Congress held a hearing to discuss the evidence. But pro-abortion subcommittee members destroyed Alberty’s credibility and used that to divert attention from the fetal tissue sales. The debacle ruined Alberty’s reputation. Nothing changed legally. And the story died.
The failure disappointed Scheidler and Crutcher. The lack of widespread social media in the 1990s allowed primary news sources to mostly ignore the information Life Dynamics publicized, Crutcher said.
The outcry over fetal tissue sales didn’t become a big part of the pro-life campaign again until Daleiden began releasing videos from his three-year, undercover investigation, which has produced hundreds of hours of footage. Thanks to social media in 2015, CMP’s message has spread without the organization having to rely on national news outlets.
“David’s investigation is leap years beyond what was done 15 years ago,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy director at Operation Rescue. “It was a project much needed because there was no follow up.”
So far, CMP has released nine videos—three documentary clips and six of clandestine recordings. The first video garnered nearly 3 million views on YouTube and national media outlets broadcast the story. Though the Senate failed to advance legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, several states have picked up the effort, helping to keep the story alive.
“We always have hoped that the media would become interested in our discoveries,” Scheidler said. “It’s been gratifying that the general public is beginning to understand.”
While social media has helped spread the word about CMP’s investigation, the general public has also become more receptive to the evidence, Crutcher said. Legislation like the dismemberment abortion bans passed in Kentucky and Oklahoma have alerted the public to the horrors of late-term abortions. Stories of Planned Parenthood hiding instances of rape and child abuse have tarnished its reputation. And improved ultrasound technology is revealing the humanity of unborn children.
“It comes to a point at which if [evidence] keeps piling up, people can’t ignore it,” Crutcher said. “It’s never going to be one single thing that brings [Planned Parenthood] down. It’s going to be a steady drip, drip, drip.”
Polls indicate the steady pro-life drip has created a slow-moving but persistent current. A May 2015 Gallup poll found 36 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances, while only 29 percent believe it should be legal in all circumstances. Another Gallup poll conducted in January found the majority of the 48 percent of Americans dissatisfied with current abortion laws want stricter legislation.
And CMP’s undercover investigation has gotten its team closer to corporate Planned Parenthood than other investigations, said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. The videos offer an accessible format and allow the public to judge for themselves Planned Parenthood’s guilt and confront the reality of abortion.
“What we’re seeing is a true culture flash point as we’re working to hold [Planned Parenthood] accountable,” Yoest said. “We really now have to answer the question: What kind of culture do we want to be?”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org
Publication date: September 8, 2015