CHICAGO – Joe Scheidler, the founder of the Pro-Life Action League and prominent figure in the anti-abortion movement, died Monday, the organization announced. He was 93.
Scheidler died of pneumonia at his Chicago home, according to Thomas Ciesielka, a spokesman for the group.
His oldest son, Eric Scheidler, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday that his father "devoted five decades of his long life to proclaiming the value of human life at its most vulnerable stage, the child in the womb.”
If people in Chicago, where his organization is based, didn't know his name they likely knew of him as the man who routinely stationed himself on downtown street corners carrying signs emblazoned with photographs of fetuses.
According to the organization's website, Scheidler and his wife, Ann, founded the Pro-Life Action League in 1980. Since then, he wrote a book about fighting abortion and produced videos on the subject.
Scheidler was at the center of a legal battle with the National Organization for Women that led the U.S. Supreme Court to decide that a federal law against extortion was improperly used to punish anti-abortion demonstrators, the website says.
"Now we can go on protesting and counseling at the clinics, doing the things that we do," Scheidler told the Associated Press in 2003 following the high court's decision. "We’ll have much more freedom.”