Matt C. Abbott
Pro-abortion terrorism (outside the womb); Notre Dame saga continues; Toyota and the Catholic Church
By Matt C. Abbott
March 7, 2010

From the Thomas More Society:

    'Let me tell you about another shocking development in Aurora. On December 16, 2009, one of our sidewalk counselors — a young lady named Rachelle — approached a couple on their way into the Planned Parenthood killing center. Before she even appealed to them to choose life for their baby, the man pulled out a loaded gun and pointed it at her face!

    'Rachelle was shocked. Trembling with fear, she called 9-1-1. When the Aurora police showed up, they basically did nothing. Finding that this gun-wielding hot head was an off-duty Chicago police officer, they took his word that he only flashed his badge at Rachelle.

    'When pro-lifers alerted news media about the incident, it made the papers. Suddenly the Chicago Police Department intervened. They urged Rachelle to come for an interview, telling her, 'We consider this a very serious matter.' Tom Brejcha accompanied Rachelle at her interview before Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority.

    'At Tom's urging and with his help, Rachelle filed a formal complaint with Aurora's police. Hearing about the Chicago investigation, Aurora police now also asked to interview Rachelle, and Tom went with her to press formal charges against her assailant.

    'You see, we're serious about protecting sidewalk counselors from violent or even potentially violent abortion fanatics!

    'You may recall that we got a rogue police officer fired by Des Plaines, Illinois for harassing, frightening, and even offensively touching a pro-life lady who was saving babies at an abortion center in Des Plaines. This assailant, who pulled a gun on Rachelle, aiming it at her face, deserves to be fired too. So Tom is pressing the matter.

    'Incredibly, Rachelle experienced another backlash after the off-duty cop aimed his gun at her face. A man from New York City, who had read about the incident, phoned her and asked, 'Are you the Rachelle in the story?' She said yes.

    'The man replied, 'The only thing I regret, Rachelle, is that he didn't put a bullet through your chest.' He was deadly serious. We found out that the caller's name is Theodore Shulman and that he has also made murderous threats against pro-life nurse and leader Jill Stanek, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Princeton pro-life professor and author Robert George, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, and other pro-lifers.

    'We put a private investigator on Shulman and reported his threats to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Our investigator dug up more ugly facts about Shulman. We'll be meeting with Jill Stanek and FBI Special Agents who are coming here from New York to investigate all these cases. We're getting law enforcers to protect the life-savers!

    'Yes, this is deadly serious business. Here's what Shulman said to Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life: 'Yep, it's DEFINITELY time for some pro-choice counterterror. If I weren't so well known I'd do it myself. And YOU, 'Father' Frank, would be my first target.'

    'After someone held a knife to the throat of a sidewalk counselor outside an abortion center in Duluth, Minnesota, on November 24, 2009, Shulman posted a remark on the Internet saying that the knife-wielding offender "was right to pull a knife."

    'Shulman summed up his beliefs when he posted this remark on the Internet: 'ANYBODY WHO PUBLICLY PROFESSES THAT ABORTION IS MURDER DESERVES TO BE MURDERED HIMSELF. Yes, that includes ALL right-to-life Catholic priests. Swear it, believe it, proclaim it, and act on it.'

    'Well, we're determined to stop Shulman and we're making sure that the results of our Shulman investigation are turned over to law enforcement authorities at the highest levels!

    'Here's what's going on in our defense of the 'Notre Dame 88.' As you'll recall, 88 innocent pro-lifers protested at Notre Dame — peaceably and prayerfully — when pro-abortion President Obama was to be honored by Notre Dame's president Father John Jenkins, C.S.C.

    'Keep in mind that Notre Dame is an open campus. Indeed, it's Northern Indiana's top tourist attraction. And that the 88 pro-lifers created no obstruction or disturbance. They prayed the Rosary. One, the elderly Father Norman Weslin (who regularly prays outside the Omaha killing center where Dr. Leroy Carhart does late-term abortions), carried a heavy wooden cross. Some carried pro-life signs, including two Colorado women whose signs expressed regret for past abortions. These folks should have been welcomed on this Catholic university campus. Instead, campus security police arrested, handcuffed, and hauled them all away to jail. Now they are being prosecuted as trespassers. The 88 also include Miss Norma McCorvey — the 'Jane Roe' in Roe v. Wade who now deeply regrets her role in that case.

    'Heroic pro-life attorney Tom Dixon of South Bend stepped forward to defend the Notre Dame 88 on learning of their arrest and jailing. Dixon called Tom Brejcha and asked for help and support from Thomas More Society, and so we've enlisted Dixon as another one of our 'special counsel' team members. The 'ND88' have suffered enough for what should never be held a 'crime.' They are innocent, and so Tom moved to dismiss the charges. Notre Dame's private police force has arrest powers under state law and, therefore, is subject to legal constraints under the 1st amendment, which bars 'viewpoint discrimination' by police and public authorities. Yet campus police ignored pro-Obama signs and T-shirts and also those who were counter-protesting against the ND88 while arresting the pro-lifers. Now the prosecutions still proceed in St. Joseph County, Indiana criminal court. The cases were all consolidated before one Judge and there has yet to be any ruling whether the charges should be dismissed. If they are not dismissed, we're demanding 88 jury trials!

    'Dixon asked the Judge to whom the cases were assigned to 'recuse' herself, to step down from hearing the case because of her bias or appearance of bias. Her husband is an outspokenly pro-abortion semi-retired Notre Dame professor with financial ties to the University. The Judge used to be one of his students. He left his wife and seven children to marry her. In a prior case, the Judge ruled against pro-lifers in a way that left little doubt that she was deeply biased in favor of abortion providers.

    'Well, the Judge refused to step aside. But then she 'certified' her ruling for an immediate appeal. When Tom Dixon filed our appeal, the Judge reacted — abruptly and angrily. First, she voluntarily recused herself, stepping aside. Then, she filed a nasty charge against Tom Dixon with the Indiana Disciplinary Board, claiming his action was unethical.

    'The Judge's charge is meritless. How should a lawyer argue that a Judge is biased, or at least apparently biased, without saying so? What Dixon said was true. Given the Judge's entanglements with Notre Dame, she should have recused herself without being asked.

    'Not only are we defending the ND88 with Tom Dixon and helping him clear his name, but also we're appealing to Father Jenkins and Notre Dame's top leaders to drop the charges against the 88 innocent pro-lifers. Father Jenkins is digging in his heels. He was really stung by pro-life criticism. Maybe that's why Father Jenkins attended the March for Life — trying to 'prove' how pro-life he is. But his reception at the March was ice-cold, including three giant banners and 10,000 leaflets urging: Father Jenkins — Free the Notre Dame 88!

    'It's ironic that Father Jenkins would attend the March for Life, urging that Roe v. Wade be overturned, even as Notre Dame presses charges of criminal trespass against the now-repentant 'Jane Roe' whose Texas lawsuit culminated in legalizing abortion!

    'Furthermore, Notre Dame's prior president, Father Ted Hesburgh, supported our defense of Joe Scheidler, commending him for having marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma back in 1965. Father Ted's executive vice-president, the late Father Ned Joyce, was a major financial supporter of our efforts before he died a few years ago. Yet now Notre Dame presses a prosecution against pro-lifers for the very same tactic — 'peaceable, nonviolent direct action' — that Dr. King advocated in his famous Letter From Birmingham Jail (April, 1963). Indeed, the ND88 were marching for civil rights at Notre Dame, equally as those who marched at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and those who marched at Selma!

    'The irony of Father Jenkins's hypocrisy just crackles like dry wood in a raging fire.'

A sad footnote to the Notre Dame controversy:

    'Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, is sad to report the death of ND88 client Linda Schmidt, who died after a courageous battle with terminal cancer.

    'It is with a heavy heart that we report that Linda Schmidt died [March 2]. While she will be missed by her family and loved ones, as a woman of tremendous faith she will no doubt spend eternity with our Lord,' Brejcha said. 'But our grief at losing this dedicated pro-life heroine is greater given the grim truth that she lived her final days under this cloud of criminal charges instigated by Notre Dame, which remained pending even as she departed this life."

    'Tom Dixon, lead attorney for the ND 88 and a Notre Dame Law alumnus, first sought a voluntary dismissal of the charges against Mrs. Schmidt on February 9, 2010. Late Friday, February 19, St. Joseph County's prosecutor requested documentation proving the claim of illness. Medical documentation proving that Mrs. Schmidt had terminal cancer was provided to the prosecutor's office by early morning February 23. It was also confirmed that Mrs. Schmidt had been given less than two months to live. To date, there has been no response or communication from the prosecutor's office.

    'Repeated overtures have also been made to Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, urging that he request that the charges be dropped.

    ''Sadly, our requests have been met with legalistic, disingenuous responses that attempt to pass the buck from Father Jenkins to the prosecutor. While only the prosecutor can move the court to drop the charges, those charges were initiated by Notre Dame, whose campus police exercised state powers by arresting the ND88 and hauling them to the county jail,' Brejcha said. 'As the crimes charged were all for alleged trespassing in violation of Notre Dame's property rights, there is little doubt that the prosecutor will drop the charges if the 'campus landowner' — Notre Dame — asks for dismissal. Once again, we urge Notre Dame to put human rights ahead of property rights and publicly request that the prosecutor drop these obnoxious charges.''

Reader Tonchi Weaver wrote:

    'I read your [March 1] column this morning about Father McGrade's 'Toyota experience.' While I'm grateful that no one was hurt in the accident, forgive me for being a bit wary of our new national pastime: flogging Toyota. Please don't think me irreverent for seeing a parallel between Toyota and the Catholic Church, but who knows better than good and faithful Catholics what it's like for a highly regarded (revered, in the case of the Church) entity to find itself in the crosshairs of public opinion? Were it not for my personal knowledge of the Church and belief in her teaching and history, I may have abandoned Catholicism in the wake of recent scandals. Because of that knowledge and belief, I trusted in God that the Church would rise up from the depths of the shame brought upon her — because her foundation is God Himself.

    'I do not place a company selling products to consumers on a par with the Catholic Church and her divine mission, but in a similar vein, what I know about Toyota from my personal knowledge and experience gives me confidence that the company will weather this storm and emerge from the humiliation being heaped upon them.

    'In 1996, my husband Joel went to work for the local Toyota dealership where he sells new Toyotas and used vehicles of every brand. Over the years Joel and I have owned and driven more than 50 vehicles — models ranging from sports cars and SUV's to pickup trucks. The manufacturers included companies from American Motors (remember them?) to Volvo. The one brand that has stood out consistently is Toyota. That made Joel proud to sell them.

    'Awhile back we were in Kentucky visiting our kids at Ft. Campbell. We drove up to Frankfurt and Georgetown where Toyota has one of its largest factories. Because Joel was an employee, we were given a tour and made welcome. The emphasis on product integrity was evident in everything we saw. The teams of five who built each car took great pride in the details of their work. They had very low rates of absenteeism because they liked their jobs and they felt appreciated by their employer. They were rewarded for product excellence, and many of the line employees said that their suggestions to improve production or work methods actually get put into practice. If anyone on the line observed a flaw, production stopped until that flaw was addressed.

    'This is why we have not lost confidence in Toyota. I know the company will find the problems and correct them, but in the meantime there is blood in the water and unscrupulousness reigns in pursuit of deep pockets. We would never risk the lives of our children and grandchildren for the sake of brand loyalty; we simply believe our family is safest in Toyotas. On long trips especially our Toyota is far superior to the other cars and trucks we have previously owned.

    'It is sad to see how quickly a stereotype can take hold of conventional thought. How long did it take to brand every parish priest a homosexual child-molester? The anguish caused by those sinful acts was magnified many times by the stereotyping of all Catholic priests. How long will it take before every Toyota on the street will be seen as Stephen King's Christine? Many good Americans who support their families and our communities and churches will suffer from that perception as well.

    'I hope you will give this some thought before jumping on the bandwagon. God bless you and keep you safe (whatever you may drive).'

Pertinent links:

Thomas More Society

Citizens for a Pro-Life Society

Pro-Life Action League

Free the ND 88

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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