Students for Life of America (SFLA) is so excited to release our new graphics series entitled The Original #ProLifeGen, which features pro-life heroes who have formed this movement and paved the way for the current generation of pro-lifers to rise up and ultimately abolish abortion.
While public opinion data can be looked at in a variety of ways, especially depending upon how the questions are asked, it is undeniable that the percentage of people who identify as “pro-life” has increased over the past several decades. In the mid-1990s only about 33 percent of Americans identified as pro-life according to Gallup. However, in 2009 for the first time, a majority of respondents in a Gallup poll identified as “pro-life”. Also the General Social Survey which has been asking the same battery of questions on abortion since the early 1970s also finds an increase in pro-life sentiment.
In addition, abortions are going down, from a high of 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.06 million in 2011. These original pro-life generation heroes can certainly be credited for the shift in public opinion and in the reduction of abortions. They worked day and night to help women facing unplanned pregnancies and to save little babies.
SFLA will continue to add to this incredible list of the original #prolifegen but those featured in our first release are:
Dr. John Willke, Founder, Life Issues Institute and author of Handbook on Abortion.
After founding Cincinnati and Ohio Right to Life, Dr. Willke went on to serve as president of the national Life Issues Institute, which is headquartered in Cincinnati. He served 10 years as president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee and helped found the International Right to Life Federation. Along with his wife Barbara, Dr. Willke wrote the Handbook on Abortion, which was published in 20 languages. Dr. Willke’s views against abortion brought him international recognition. He hosted a five-minute radio program that was broadcasted on almost 400 radio stations for 18 years and created one-minute pro-life messages called Life Jewels that were broadcasted in English and Spanish in the U.S., Australia, South Africa and Brazil. Dr. Willke sadly passed away on February 20, 2015.
In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly successfully stopped the Equal Rights Amendment from ratification, which would have made abortion a constitutional right.Mrs. Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the publication of her best-selling 1964 book, A Choice Not An Echo. She has been a leader of the pro-family movement since 1972, when she started her national volunteer organization called Eagle Forum. In a ten-year battle, Mrs. Schlafly led the pro-family movement to victory over the principal legislative goal of the radical feminists, called the Equal Rights Amendment. An articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement, she appears in debate on college campuses frequently. She was named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by the Ladies’ Home Journal.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist and director of the Silent Scream.
A former abortionist who presided over 60,000 abortions and took the life of his own son or daughter when he performed an abortion on a girlfriend that he impregnated, Dr. Nathanson founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), which is today NARAL Pro-Choice America. But within a year of Roe v. Wade, he began to have moral doubts about abortion. By 1980, with the influence of seeing ultrasounds, Dr. Nathanson decided not to perform any more abortions and started working for the pro-life position. He produced the movie The Silent Scream in 1985, which showed an abortion of a 12-week-old preborn baby, and was touted by Ronald Reagan himself after he saw it in the White House. In addition, in his book Aborting America, Dr. Nathanson admitted that the myth that tens of thousands of women died from illegal abortions before Roe, was just that as he and a partner had helped propagate the lie in order to call for legal abortion. In 1996, after years of atheism, Dr. Nathanson became a Catholic and died on February 21, 2011.
Dr. Mildred Jefferson, co-founder, National Right to Life.
Dr. Jefferson grew up in the South and knew the oppression of racism and eugenics. In 1947, she was admitted to Harvard Medical School and, in 1951, became the first black woman to graduate from the school. Dr. Jefferson went on to help bring Ronald Reagan into the pro-life movement and co-founded the National Right to Life Committee. Unapologetically pro-life, Dr. Jefferson was awarded 28 honorary degrees from various prestigious institutions and was dedicated to exposing Planned Parenthood and the abortion agenda. She died on October 10, 2010.
Br. Paul O’Donnell, co-founder and president of Pro-Life Action Ministries; founding board member of the Human Life Alliance; and chairman of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network.
Brother Paul was a dedicated, nationally recognized leader within the right-to-life movement, advocating for the human rights and dignity of the unborn, handicapped, elderly, and a heart for serving the spiritually and bodily poor. Brother Paul’s whole life was an offering of self for those on the fringes of society and suffering from profound neglect or in peril of death. He passed away this year on February 20, 2015.
Nellie Gray, Founder, National Pro-Life March
Following the Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973, Nellie Gray retired from her federal career and dedicated the remainder of her life to the protection of pre-born babies. With the help of others, Nellie founded the National Pro-Life March and coordinated the nation’s largest annual peaceful protest right out of her Capitol Hill townhouse for the next 39 years. Until her death on August 13, 2012, Nellie never stopped advocating for the preborn. She was described by Cardinal Sean O’Malley as the “Joan of Arc of the pro-life movement.” Today, the National Pro-Life March is the largest Civil Rights event in the world. The number of people who have traveled to Washington over the past 40 years to participate is in the millions. There have been countless stories of the young pro-life activists who were “born” out of the National Pro-Life March and are now changing the face of the pro-life debate.
Joe Scheidler, national director and founder, Pro-Life Action League.
Joe left a career in public relations to become a full-time pro-life activist shortly after the U. S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade opinion in 1973. He and his wife, Ann, founded the Pro-Life Action League in 1980. It has been said that Joseph Scheidler defined pro-life direct action. Joe Scheidler was called the Green Beret of the pro-life movement by syndicated columnist Patrick Buchanan. He wrote the book on fighting abortion, CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, in 1985 and updated it in 1993. Joe produced the videos Meet the Abortion Providers and Abortion: The Inside Story, featuring former abortionists who testify to what really goes on in the abortion clinics. Joe also produced the definitive video on sidewalk counseling, No Greater Joy and Face the Truth.
C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General under President Ronald Reagan.
From 1946 to 1981, C. Everett Koop was the surgeon-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). It was there in 1956 that he was able to establish the nation’s first neonatal surgical intensive care unit. During his time there, he invented techniques which today are commonly used for infant surgery and saved the lives of countless children who otherwise might have been allowed to die. In 1976, Koop wrote The Right to Live, The Right to Die, setting down his concerns about abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. Koop continued to speak out on abortion as recently as 2009, when he wrote and hand-delivered a letter to Congress to voice his opposition to proposed federal funding for the procedure. He died on February 25, 2013.