Pro-Life Icon Who Helped Found Thomas More Society, Joe Scheidler, Dies at 93
Tom Brejcha, President, Chief Counsel, and Founder of the Thomas More Society, issued this statement on January 18, 2021 in the wake of the news that 93-year-old Joseph Scheidler, an icon of the pro-life movement, has died:
At the Thomas More Society we are saddened at the passing of Joseph Scheidler. Joe was many things to me, and to the Thomas More Society. He was a long-time client, a co-founder of this pro-life firm, and a dear friend.
Joe was our raison d'etre -- the only reason and sole cause for the Thomas More Society's coming into existence. His unduly long, litigious persecution on the part of the National Organization for Women and the nation's abortion industry -- which lasted over nearly three-decades in a landmark court battle, NOW v. Scheidler -- was the crucible in which our Thomas More Society was forged. Joe has recounted the story of his having been targeted and tried under laws intended and designed to shut down organized crime in his 2016 book, entitled Racketeer for Life.
Thomas More Society’s battling to restore respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty was not only born out of the necessity of defending Joe as well as his Pro-Life Action League and fellow activists Andrew Scholberg, Tim Murphy and other nationally prominent pro-life leaders, but it was also inspired by Joe’s own eloquence and activism. Joe advocated for life by both his word and his deeds. He would bear prayerful witness as well as provide meaningfully sympathetic and compassionate “sidewalk counseling” outside of abortion facilities, helping to save the lives of countless infants and inspiring so many others to do likewise all over this country as well as abroad. Joe's 1985 book, Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, was a primer for peaceful yet profound activism designed to combat the violence of abortion, which he bluntly condemned as a grave evil.
Decades of pro-life advocacy, and his ultimate victory in NOW v. Scheidler, earned him the title of “Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement.” His uncompromising commitment to the sanctity of human life has inspired generations and motivated many to move from complacency to militant albeit peaceful protest on behalf of the preborn.
Joe founded the Pro-Life Action League in 1980, which is now led by his eldest son, Eric. Joe's wife Ann was co-founder of our Thomas More Society with Joe and me, and she serves as our Chairman. We shall keep Ann, Eric, their families, all of Joe’s loved ones, and all who will miss him as we do in our prayers at this difficult time.
With the death of Joe Scheidler, the pro-life movement has lost a warrior champion, and we have lost a dear friend. Joe believed in defending the innocent lives of babies in the womb, and this was a lifelong calling that he lived so faithfully to his last breath. We rejoice in the truth that Joe so fully deserved to hear these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”