Drivers in 50 cities will see pro-life banners on highway overpasses, June 22, stating “abortion takes a human life.”
The first National Pro-Life Bridges Day is designed to use a non-confrontational statement to spark conversations on abortion among hundreds of thousands of Americans, according to event organizer Eric Scheidler of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League.
“We were looking for a way of talking about abortion in a very few words that would get people talking,” said Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League executive director. “We know from experience that when we raise the abortion issue people do talk about it. What we hope … is that drivers passing by will start talking with their passengers. They’ll have a conversation about abortion that they haven’t had before.”
Scheidler said organizers have purposefully avoided messages that might discourage insightful conversation.
“That’s why we chose the phrase that we did for these banners. They say abortion takes a human life. We wanted it to be ‘a’ human life, a specific human life taken with each and every abortion,” he said. “We decided to avoid any language that was going to be religious or political in an explicit way, or moralist, or judging the issue in some way.”
About 2,500 abortions are performed every day in the U.S., according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute.
In the pilot project, the league recruited a leader in each city to rally at least five volunteers to hold the banners at designated time slots, provided the banners and information on the event’s legality, and held a trial run event this past winter.
“Our 50 local leaders represent a cross section of the public,” Scheidler said. “We have clergy and lay people, college students, retirees and every age in between, leaders of pro-life organizations and itinerate activists…. This is an event that requires a very small number of people.”
About 300 volunteers are spread among the cities in 24 states, and many volunteers were placed on waiting lists in case the event works well enough to repeat, Scheidler said.
The league considered such safety issues as sidewalks, wide shoulders and guardrails, he said, choosing pedestrian bridges for a fifth of the locations.
The Thomas More Society, a nonprofit Chicago law firm fighting for life, family and religious liberty, provided legal advice for the event.
“The federal courts have consistently held that highway overpasses are a public forum where our First Amendment rights are protected,” Scheidler said.
Among the 50 cities where National Pro-Life Bridges Day is being held are Tampa, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Paul, Minnesota; Olympia, Washington; San Antonio, Texas; Fresno, California; Memphis, Tennessee; and the suburbs of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
Specific bridges for events are listed at https://prolifeaction.org/event/bridgesday2018/. Volunteers are still being accepted to participate at some locations, Scheidler said June 20. The league describes its purpose as saving unborn children through non-violent direct action.
— Diana Chandler | BP