Posted on

Paul Pelosi’s friends miss the days when Napa cops were nicer about drinking and driving

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul pose for a picture on the red carpet for the premiere of the movie “Fences” in front of the Curran Theater in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Nancy and Paul Pelosi’s high-society friends suggested to the New York Times that the turmoil surrounding the speaker’s husband and his May 28 arrest on DUI-related charges, could have been avoided if police had acted like the Napa Valley cops of yore, who supposedly were more indulgent about drinking and driving.

In a report on the House speaker’s luxe Wine Country lifestyle, San Francisco society doyenne Diane Wilsey, better known as Dede, was quoted as saying, “I feel just awful about what’s happened because there was a time when if a thing like this happened, the cops would take you home.”

Wilsey’s comments appeared in a story published the day before the Napa County District Attorney’s filed misdemeanor drunken driving charges against Paul Pelosi that involve injury, CNN reported. The charges stem from Pelosi’s arrest the night of May 28 after he was involved in a two-car crash on Highway 29 in Oakville.

The 82-year-old investor, who was said to have had a blood-alcohol level of 0.82, reportedly spent the night in jail after his arrest, an immediate consequence that some friends found “excessive,” according to the New York Times.

Now Paul Pelosi is facing criminal prosecution, with a conviction bringing the possibility of a minimum of five days in jail, up to five years probation, installation of an ignition interlock device, and fines and fees, according to a press release from the District Attorney’s office.

Paul Pelosi reportedly wasn’t injured, but it’s not clear what injuries were suffered by the Jeep driver. The New York Times story said the Jeep driver wasn’t injured but the news release issued by prosecutors said they filed misdemeanor charges, “based upon the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim,” CNN said

The New York Times story, with Wilsey’s reflections on supposedly more “understanding” police officers, examines the speaker’s high-end California life after her husband’s arrest and “at a time when economic hardship is straining many people of lesser means.”

For Nancy Pelosi’s critics, Wilsey’s comments could be seen as tone deaf, elitist and another example of the sense of entitlement shared by people of the speaker’s social class.

According to the story, the Pelosis enjoy many of the privileges of wealthy San Franciscans. They have their mansion in the city, a three-story townhouse in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights neighborhood, but they also have their country home in Napa, a 16.55-acre gated estate in St. Helena.

In these enclaves, they socialize with other very wealthy people, including Alex Mehran, Wilsey and oil billionaire Gordon Getty and his late wife, Ann Getty, according to the Times. Paul Pelosi and Wilsey are both trustees for the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, and Paul and Nancy Pelosi are regulars at the city’s biggest social events, including the San Francisco Symphony’s opening gala.

Nancy Pelosi also officiated at the lavish City Hall wedding of Getty’s heiress granddaughter, Ivy Getty, who walked down the aisle in a haute couture John Galliano-for-Maison Margiela gown that sparkled with mirror shards.

Pelosi’s right-wing critics have long had their knives out for her. Her husband’s arrest, and any perception of favoritism, have given them more ammunition.

The Napa Valley Register reported that after Paul Pelosi’s arrest, the prosecutor’s office was flooded with angry calls after right-wing media figures spread false rumors that the DUI charges against Pelosi had been dropped and that he would not “face any consequence.” Those who fanned the flames of the false information on Twitter included Congresswoman Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump Jr.

Henry Wofford, public information officer for the Napa County Sheriff’s office, told the Register that his agency, which is working with prosecutors on the case, is used to dealing with inaccurate information and is happy to educate the public, but he said the the volume of calls this week has been significantly higher than usual.

“There’s been bad information pushed out and sometimes the rumors can, they travel quickly on social media,” he said. “If something doesn’t sound right we encourage them to check out our social media web pages or give us a call to check whether it’s accurate or not.”

Paul Pelosi first court appearance is Aug. 3.

Posted on

Airlines aim to shift blame for flight problems to FAA

DALLAS — Airlines under scrutiny for widespread flight disruptions are renewing their criticism of the government agency that manages the nation’s airspace, saying that understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration is “crippling” traffic along the East Coast.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, said Friday it wants to know FAA’s staffing plans for the July Fourth holiday weekend, “so we can plan accordingly.”

The comments from the industry group could serve as a pre-emptive defense in case airlines again suffer thousands of canceled and delayed flights over the holiday weekend, when travel is expected to set new pandemic-era highs.

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,” Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group, said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Calio said airlines have dropped 15% of the flights they originally planned for June through August to make the remaining flights more reliable, they are hiring and training more pilots and customer-service agents, and giving passengers more flexibility to change travel plans.

Calio said air traffic is often disrupted “for many hours” because bad weather causes the the FAA to issue delays.

“However, we have also observed that FAA (air traffic control) staffing challenges have led to traffic restrictions under blue sky conditions,” he added.

The FAA shot back, with a reference to taxpayer money that airlines received after the pandemic devastated air travel.

“People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably,” the FAA said in a statement. “After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.”

The FAA said it has added controllers in high-traffic areas and added alternate routes to keep planes moving.

The airline trade group chief’s comments came a week after Buttigieg called airline leaders to a virtual meeting and threatened to punish carriers that fail to meet consumer-protection standards set by his department, which includes the FAA.

Buttigieg said he called the meeting after being alarmed by the high number of canceled flights around Memorial Day — more than 2,700 in a five-day stretch, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Thunderstorms can quickly snarl air traffic during the summer, but airlines have also acknowledged staffing shortages — they are hiring at a rapid pace to replace tens of thousands of workers whom the airlines paid to quit when travel collapsed in 2020. Pilot union leaders say their groups are being stretched to the limit, and more pilots report being fatigued.

The FAA has admitted that it too is understaffed, particularly at a key air traffic control center in Florida.

Calio said that facility, near Jacksonville, Florida, has been understaffed for 27 of the last 30 days, “which is crippling to the entire East Coast traffic flows.”

More than 500 U.S. flights had been canceled and more than 2,300 delayed by early afternoon Friday, according to FlightAware. That was better than Thursday, however, when thunderstorms on the East Coast contributed to more than 800 cancellations and 6,600 delays.

———

David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter

Posted on

Critics direct anger over Roe decision at Sen. Susan Collins

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

File photo: Republican Sen. Susan Collins was considered a crucial vote on Brett Kavanaugh. She waited months before announcing her decision in a 45-minute floor speech. Shortly after her speech ended, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced he, too, was voting for Kavanaugh.

By David Sharp and Patrick Whittle | Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins was blasted Friday for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as opponents targeted her votes to confirm two justices to the Supreme Court who were in the majority opinion allowing states to ban abortion.

Critics of the Maine senator haven’t forgotten the key role she played in confirming Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and she was ripped anew on social media.

Some opponents took to name-calling and attacked Collins for being naive or complicit. Others called for her resignation. University of Maine professor Amy Fried said Collins “helped make this happen,” and the Maine Democratic Party said part of the blame lies at Collins’ feet.

Collins was considered a crucial vote on Kavanaugh. She waited months before announcing her decision in a 45-minute floor speech. Shortly after her speech ended, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced he, too, was voting for Kavanaugh.

The Senate vote was 50-48.

Mainers For Accountable Leadership, a liberal advocacy group, said Collins “must immediately apologize to these organizations who she dismissed and demeaned in her floor speech announcing her support of Kavanaugh.”

Rachel Irwin, who works for Building Back Together, which promotes President Joe Biden’s policy agenda, called Friday’s abortion news Collins’ “legacy.”

Collins, a Republican, has been a supporter of a woman’s right to an abortion. She has also crossed the aisle on key issues — including splitting with Republicans on former President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several Muslim countries, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and on whether to convict Trump after his impeachment following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

The senator said in a statement Friday that she had received assurances from Kavanaugh and Gorsuch that Roe v. Wade was an established legal precedent.

“Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative,” she said. “It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”

Collins’ statement came moments before Biden called the ruling “a tragic error.” She did not respond to a request for an interview Friday from The Associated Press.

The senator in her statement took aim at Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for their about-face from what they told her privately and said in their confirmation hearings.

“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” she said.

The vote to confirm Gorsuch wasn’t as narrow as for Kavanaugh, whose nomination was nearly derailed by accusations of sexual assault that he denied. Senators approved Gorsuch’s nomination with a 54-45 vote.

Collins voted against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, saying that it was too late in Trump’s presidency and that his successor should’ve made a nomination to fill the vacancy.

Despite the vitriol against Collins and coat hangers mailed to her office, she easily won a fifth term in 2020.

She said she supports a bipartisan bill to codify the right to an abortion. “Our goal with this legislation is to do what the court should have done — provide the consistency in our abortion laws that Americans have relied upon for 50 years,” she said.

Posted on

Dobbs decision reaction: Live updates to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

The future of a person’s right to have an abortion in the United States has been thrown into uncertainty Friday after the Supreme Court announced in the morning that it has overturned Roe v. Wade through its decision in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The decision means abortion bans will go into effect in almost half of the nation’s 50 states. The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting.

As public officials and residents of the Chicago area and beyond react to this monumental decision, this story will be updated.

Readers react: With Roe overturned, America is no longer ‘land of the free, home of the brave’

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, and could potentially be targeting contraception and gay rights next, it is time to remove “land of the free” from our national anthem. Might as well do away with “home of the brave” as well, given that Republicans do not seem to be able to stand up to the religious right.

Last time I checked, there was something in the Constitution about the separation of church and state. Seems our Supreme Court justices, and a lot of our elected officials, have forgotten that.

Regina Gomory, Crystal Lake

Read more reaction in our Letters to the Editor.

Lightfoot tells those worried about getting abortions after Supreme Court ruling: ‘Come to Chicago.’

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a simple message for those worried about their access to abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.

“Come to Chicago,” Lightfoot said during a news conference with Planned Parenthood and other groups that help provide abortions.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy puts her arms around state Sen. Melinda Bush and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a press conference in response to the Supreme Court rolling back Roe v. Wade in its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s case at Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ headquarters in the Loop, Friday afternoon, June 24, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“We will protect you, we will make sure that your rights are respected,” she continued, hours after the expected ruling was finally handed down. “We will make sure that you get access to the health care you deserve.”

Read the full story here.

In Harrison Park, residents urge more men to speak up

“It’s taking women back 50 years. This is what the Trump thing has come down to, because this is what they wanted. And I think gay rights are next. It’s a snowball effect.” – Rebecca Gutierrez, 46.

Image_from_iOS__2_.jpg

Rebecca Gutierrez (right) with her partner and partner’s daughter.

Michael Loria / Sun-Times

“They got a vaccine for COVID, they should be allowed to have something for me. Because abortion is a good thing.” — Celeste Reyez, 20s.

“It’s important that everybody comes together right now. We’re all going to have to be drug dealers now.” — Keila, 23

“People should be able to do what they want with their bodies. Whether it’s the right decision or not.” — Serenity, 36.

“I’m horrified by it and I’m speaking up because people who don’t have uteruses are remaining too silent on the issue.”— Kelan Smith, 24.

Image_from_iOS__2_.jpg

Kelan and Keila, from Harrison Park

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

On the West Side, residents urge personal autonomy

“Let people do what they want. It’s their body, it’s their life.” — Nicole Mack, 30s, pregnant woman in Garfield Park.

“My stance is that I’m glad that when I was in my mother’s womb it was illegal. I’m glad I wasn’t aborted. My thing is if someone was raped. That should be up to her.” — Ronald Ford, 60s, in Garfield Park.

“They should not be able to control no one, especially women. They don’t know anything about being a woman.” —Myya McGee, 20s. outside St. Anthony Children’s Hospital

“There’s a lot of other things going on right now. Why they worrying about women?” — Polly Colman, 50s, outside St. Anthony Children’s Hospital

Cardinal Cupich praises Court decision, should be “turning point” in dialogue

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, released a statement supporting the decision.

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns the court’s tragic 1973 decision that removed legal protection for unborn children. We welcome this important ruling and the opportunity it creates for a national conversation on protecting human life in the womb and promoting human dignity at all stages of life. This moment should serve as a turning point in our dialogue about the place an unborn child holds in our nation, about our responsibility to listen to women and support them through pregnancies and after the birth of their children, and about the need to refocus our national priorities to support families, particularly those in need.

“The Catholic Church brings to such a conversation the conviction that every human life is sacred, that every person is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserving of reverence and protection. That belief is the reason the Catholic Church is the country’s largest provider of social services, many aimed at eliminating the systemic poverty and health care insecurity that trap families in a cycle of hopelessness and limit authentic choice.”

Read the full statement here.

In Humboldt Park, residents fear for what’s next

Our Michael Loria spoke to several residents in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood about the decision. Here are some of their reactions:

“I’m just reeling. Even if you know it’s coming, it’s makes you shake. It makes me afraid for what else they can take away.” — Jamie Macpherson, 34

“Losing this makes me wonder what’s next. I’m a Black queer woman. Black people are already facing so much, queer people are already facing so much, trans people are facing so much. Am I not going to be able to marry a white woman next?” — Karissa Kosman, 24

“As someone who’s queer and in a queer relationship, I’m considering leaving. It’s not safe for us, it’s not safe for us to go out, we can’t get reliable healthcare. And that might involve leaving until things change and that’s a change I might not live to see.” — Becca Schwartz, 25

“What’s next, Loving v Virginia? Great we live in Illinois but it shouldn’t be this Wild West scenario between the states where people have to drive hundreds of miles to get what they need. It’s a step toward theocracy.” — Dave Gonzalez, 35

Image_from_iOS__3_.jpg

From left to right: Jamie Macpherson, Dave Gonzalez, Becca Schwartz and Karissa Kosman.

Michael Loria/Sun-Times

“The court shouldn’t do that. Everyone should have the the right to their own body and to make their own decision.” — Miriam Cerda, 57

“Well it shouldn’t be legal, there’s already so many ways you can prevent getting pregnant.” — Aurea Bonet

Trump calls decision ‘biggest win for life in a generation,’ says it never would’ve happened without him

Former President Donald Trump, who appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, offered a celebratory statement Friday calling the Hobbs decision “the biggest win for life in a generation.”

Trump’s full statement:

“Today’s decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. It was my great honor to do so!

I did not cave to the Radical Left Democrats, their partners in the Fake News Media, or the RINOs who are likewise the true, but silent, enemy of the people. These major Victories prove that even though the Radical Left is doing everything in their power to destroy our Country, your Rights are being protected, the Country is being defended, and there is still hope and time to Save America! I will never stop fighting for the Great People of our Nation!”

More statements condemning Dobbs decision from Illinois officials and primary election candidates

Attorney General Kwame Raoul and other Illinois Democrats also joined in the chorus of public officials who have condemned the Supreme Court’s decision, while also making clear they intend for Illinois to remain a place to get safe and legal abortions.

“As I assured Vice President Kamala Harris yesterday at a White House roundtable on reproductive health, Illinois has been and will continue to be a proud reproductive health care oasis where women have the right to make their own highly-personal reproductive health decisions with their families and medical professionals,” Raoul said in a statement.

From Anna Valencia, who’s running for Secretary of State: “At this frightening and dangerous time, we need elected leaders in Illinois and at all levels of government who have always protected and advanced reproductive freedom … The road ahead will no doubt be a difficult one, but I will continue to use my platform to speak out against these injustices and organize alongside movement leaders to defeat efforts to further erode our rights.”

From State Sen. Jacqui Collins, who’s running for Congress in the 1st District: “Knowing this vicious, politically-motivated decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade was coming doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. Especially because we know that the consequences of banning abortion will be shouldered by Black, Brown and low-income women who are already starved of resources, only to have their rights to bodily autonomy taken from them too.

“Not only am I disgusted that the highest court in the land has stripped women and gender nonconforming people of our reproductive healthcare rights despite the fact that the majority of Americans support access to abortions, I am deeply afraid of what comes next unless Democrats fight back with everything we’ve got. That’s why I am running for Congress.”

From Alexi Giannoulias, who’s also running for Secretary of State: “Women deserve the fundamental human right to control their own bodies, and not be dictated by a right-wing agenda. Women have maintained this right for nearly 50 years before this Court decided to interpret the Constitution through a MAGA lens of extremism. Abortion, thankfully, will continue to remain legal here in Illinois, but my thoughts are with the women across America today who are immediately impacted by this decision; however, lives are at risk and we must take action to fix this.”

Sen. Durbin says Senate will explore ‘grim reality of a post-Roe America’

Sen. Dick Durbin announced Friday morning that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on July 12 to explore what the Dobbs decision means for Americans. Here’s the Illinois Senator’s full statement:

“Today’s decision eliminates a federally protected constitutional right that has been the law for nearly half a century. As a result, millions of Americans are waking up in a country where they have fewer rights than their parents and grandparents.

“The bottom line: on critical, personal choices involving a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions about her own body, do you trust her or the government? The Supreme Court now says a woman’s right to privacy does not extend to the most personal, private choice she will ever face.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee will explore the grim reality of a post-Roe America in a hearing next month. The Court’s decision to erase the right to access an abortion will not only lead to the denial of critical health care services, but also criminal consequences for women and health care providers in states eager to embrace draconian restrictions. I will keep fighting to enshrine into law a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. We cannot let our children inherit a nation that is less free and more dangerous than the one their parents grew up in.”

Women’s March calls for ‘summer of rage,’ ACLU slams Supreme Court for pushing nation into a ‘historic crisis’

Advocacy group Women’s March, in a statement saying the group is angry and devastated, declared its “summer of rage has just begun. We’ll see you in the streets.” Here’s a full, separate statement from Women’s March Executive Director Rachel O’Leary Carmona:

“It’s no surprise that this illegitimate, far-right Supreme Court wants to take away our constitutionally protected rights. Instead of waiting around for a Court that abdicated its duties to protect the Constitution long ago, Democrats should have mobilized and fought for us.

“But they failed. Now, like always, the burden falls to women to lead this fight. And we will be ungovernable, unmanageable, and unrelenting until this government starts working for us. We will fight back like we always have. And we will win. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

The ACLU also slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to push “this country and itself into a historic crisis, one that will reverberate far beyond the ability to get an abortion.”

“Second-class status for women has once again become the law because of today’s decision,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Foxx ‘determined to help Illinois remain a safe haven’

In a video posted to her Twitter account not long after the decision, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said she’s “determined to help Illinois remain a safe haven for all people seeking reproductive freedom.”

Pritzker vows to ‘fight like hell to protect’ right to choose

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the Dobbs decision a “direct assault on the right to privacy and self determination” while reiterating that abortion remains safe and legal in the state.

Here’s his campaign’s full statement:

“Today, in a direct assault on the right to privacy and self determination, the United States Supreme Court confirmed our worst fears on Roe vs Wade. The Republican Party and the extremists they appointed to the Supreme Court have satisfied their goal.

However, to women everywhere: abortion is still safe and legal in Illinois.

Governor Pritzker enshrined the right to choose into state law in preparation for this very moment and we will not go backwards. Illinoisans overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to control her own future — and Governor Pritzker will fight like hell to protect those rights.

Radical Republicans, including every GOP candidate for governor, want to dismantle the freedom to choose and take our state back to the dark ages. Their extreme policies would undo decades of progress and pose a clear threat to our most fundamental rights.

The governor remains committed to defending against this dangerous backslide and refuses to accept a world where our children have fewer rights than we did. In Illinois, we trust women and we will always defend their right to choose.”

Tina Sfondles has more on Pritzker’s response here.

Obama calls decision an attack on ‘essential freedoms’

The former president also linked to a full Medium post of his thoughts on the Dobbs decision.

Supreme Court announces Dobbs decision

After weeks of speculation following the leak of an opinion draft, the Supreme Court on Friday officially ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Friday’s outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, the Associated Press reports. It puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favored preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

Justice Samuel Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.

Joining Alito were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the majority, but wrote a concurrence saying he would’ve limiting the decision to only upholding the Mississippi law at issue in the Dobbs v. Jackson case.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — the diminished liberal wing of the court — were in dissent.

Read the full AP story here.

Posted on

Pahrump woman accused of striking mom over missing heroin

A Pahrump woman is charged with battery after deputies said she struck her mom over the head with a frying pan over a heroin dispute.

Just after 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, Nye County sheriff’s office deputies were dispatched to an apartment on Grandlodge Street in Pahrump following reports of a domestic disturbance, according to an arrest report.

Tiffani Kellar was found hiding and barricaded in an outside closet at the back of the residence, the report said.

“Once I was able to open the door, I asked Ms. Kellar what happened,” the report said. “She stated that she believed her mom went through her belongings while she was in the shower.”

The mom told the deputy she was sleeping in her room when Kellar walked in and confronted her for “taking her heroin,” according to the arrest report. Kellar left briefly but came back later with the frying pan, she said.

The deputy noted that there had appeared to be a struggle; several items in the apartment had been “tossed around,” he wrote in his report.

A frying pan was found next to a door that had been dented, according to the deputy’s report, and the mom had a small bump on the left side of her head consistent with her claims.

Kellar was booked in the Nye County Detention Center on a $3,000 bond.

Posted on

Illinois to become a ‘national target’ for anti-abortion activists; Archdiocese praises abortion decision

Anti-abortion groups gathered in downtown Chicago to celebrate the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade decision.

The March for Life, Illinois Right to Life, and attorneys with the Chicago-based Thomas More Society — an anti-abortion law firm that also represented other clients in religious freedom issues including same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, and recent pandemic-related stay-at home orders — held a news conference to laud Friday’s ruling.

Advertisement

Amy Gehrke, executive director of the anti-abortion group Illinois Right to Life, commended the court “for taking the very, very bold step to allow states to restore protection to preborn babies. Just like in 1954 with Brown v. the Board of Education, we are on the right side of history.”

They predicted Illinois, a Midwestern refuge for abortion services, will become a target of anti-abortion groups as the debate moves to the states.

Advertisement

Anna Kinskey, associate director of March for Life Chicago, said while children in Missouri, Kentucky and South Dakota “are safe from abortion today” and that other Midwestern states are likely to follow, “in Illinois, Gov. Pritzker continues to lead in the wrong direction.”

“We do fully expect Illinois to be ground zero in the abortion debate,” Gherke said. “I think it is incumbent upon not just our neighboring states that have protective pro-life laws but in states throughout the Midwest and beyond. With Illinois here, there are women and babies still in danger. We’re going to be encouraging people to join us here, to help us win our state for life.”

The group’s immediate focus will be contacting women coming to Illinois to seek abortions from out of state and connecting them with alternatives, and stopping other pro-abortion rights legislation from advancing in the Illinois General Assembly.

That will be an uphill battle: the Illinois House and Senate both have Democratic supermajorities, and on Friday, Gov. Pritzker announced a special session would be held to strengthen the state’s already-stringent protections for reproductive rights.

Longer term, anti-abortion officials said they wanted to see a restoration of the state’s parental notice law that required parents of minors to be informed when their child sought an abortion and new laws requiring clinics providing abortions to be subject to more stringent health inspections.

Illinois Right to Life and its sister organization, Illinois Right to Life Action, will “be letting people know how radical our laws are,” Gehrke continued.

The group has already begun polling on abortion issues and plan to target “a handful of races” where anti-abortion sentiment is high. Gehrke said she would publicize those races after this Tuesday’s primary elections.

“Illinois Right to Life is going to be the tip of the spear, making sure that this happens in our state, that our state does protect the most innocent among us and their mothers,” Gehrke said.

Advertisement

Peter Breen, a former state representative and vice president of the Thomas More Society, said the Dobbs decision opens up significant legal questions.

“Our entire lives, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land. What is it like when you take what we’d all been told was a constitutional right and a medical procedure, and now in these states, it’s akin to murder. If you’re trying to prevent what you consider to be murder, you have a lot of leeway in terms of what you do to prevent the performance of that act,” he said. “Can Planned Parenthood of Illinois go and bring Iowa residents into Illinois to do something the state of Iowa thinks is murder? That’s going to be a very interesting question for the courts.”

In a statement, Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, welcomed the ruling and “the opportunity it creates for a national conversation on protecting human life in the womb and promoting human dignity at all stages of life. This moment should serve as a turning point in our dialogue about the place an unborn child holds in our nation, about our responsibility to listen to women and support them through pregnancies and after the birth of their children, and about the need to refocus our national priorities to support families, particularly those in need.”

As a group of anti-abortion advocates gathered to celebrate the historic court ruling in Federal Plaza, GOP candidate for governor, Jesse Sullivan, took the stand commending those who have advocated for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“This has been the work of decades and decades of people who have been fighting for life and we want to celebrate all of those people today,” Sullivan said. About a dozen more supporters stood behind him at a conference attended mainly by local media. “We also get to say: now this fight that was at a national level moves to the state level. The front lines of this battle will be played out here in Illinois.”

Sullivan vowed to be an anti-abortion governor “who will stand up for the unborn in the state of Illinois.”

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Emma, who is visiting from Kansas and declined to give her last name, was walking by the plaza, stood in the background, listening to the speakers, and couldn’t help but cry, she said. The 19-year-old said she has been a victim of sexual abuse and the court overruling “can dictate the lives of women like myself,” she said.

“This is extremely disappointing and it really hurts me inside,” Emma said.

Amid the yells and profanity from passersby and pro-abortion supporters that eventually gathered at the plaza, the Pro-Life Action League celebration continued Friday afternoon.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, called the overruling a victory thanks to a 50-year movement of anti-abortion advocates like himself and his family. The Pro-Life Action League was founded by his late father Joseph M. Scheidler in 1980 to seek to stop abortions in the country.

His father, Scheidler said, led the anti-abortion movement until he died in January 2021, but his mother, Ann Scheidler, and the rest of the family kept fighting.

“We thought it would only take a couple of years to bring America to its senses, we were a little bit wrong on that, it took almost 50 years but we never gave up,” said Ann Scheidler as she recalled how she and her husband protested and prayed at abortion clinics and protested pro-abortion fundraising events.

Advertisement

But the group said that their job to end abortion in the state of Illinois had just begun. The group said that they “expect to see devastating effects in Illinois as more and more women come here…from Missouri and Indiana and Wisconsin by their predators for quick and easy abortions at Planned Parenthood megacenters so that they can go back home to their limited abortion states.”

“My prayer is that as time unfolds and the people of Illinois see the devastation that this extreme abortion regime is enacting in our state will push back, restore parental notification, stop state tax funding of abortion,” Eric Scheidler said.

As more supporters arrived at the conference, more pro-abortion advocates also joined in the plaza. Many were already getting there for the protests and actions against the ruling scheduled for Friday evening.

Ana Marie Avila Farias is visiting from California with her family. She decided to leave the sightseeing for another day and instead partake in the protests against the ruling. The mother of two decided to speak up during the anti-abortion speeches because “it’s the wrong messaging.”

“It’s not a celebration, it’s decades back of regressing women’s progress in this country and no one should be celebrating this,” Avila Farias said. “I’m here for all the women, in particular for my daughter here, to fight for her civil liberties and her rights in this country.”

Tom Olp, a Chicago-based lawyer in the anti-abortion movement approached Avila Farias.

Advertisement

“I believe in free speech but it’s very impolite to not let other people speak; they can hold their own rally. But to interfere with free speech that’s not a good thing,” Olp said.

While the anti-abortion group celebrates the victory, Avila Farias assures that the battle between women and their allies to reverse the ruling is just beginning.

“Women are going to overturn this, watch! You’re a white male hurting people of color in this country,” she said.

aquig@chicagotribune.com

larodriguez@chicagotribune.com

Posted on

Remodeled Wisconsin farmhouse offers a 'gardener's dream' for $415,000

Growing up, Kate Schindler was used to planting her hands in the dirt. But she didn’t always embrace it.

“I grew up near Eau Claire [Wis.] on nearly 20 acres. Both my mom and dad were garden enthusiasts,” she said. “I got the green thumb early on, even though I didn’t love it as a kid.”

But as she got older, she began to appreciate gardening more. So much so that when she started cultivating plants again, she and her husband, Luke Breitenbach, wanted more space. They traded in their Minneapolis home on a small lot for a 3-acre farmhouse in River Falls, Wis., built in 1900.

Their new place had potential, but the house and the grounds needed some tending.

“The house probably hadn’t been updated since the ’70s,” Schindler said.

The couple gave the kitchen a makeover, installing new lower cabinets but keeping the upper ones for a vintage look. Schindler’s dad built a custom cabinet around the old chimney that became the perfect place to keep spices.

Schindler and Breitenbach removed outdated linoleum and carpet and restored the original hardwood floors whenever possible. They spruced up the bathrooms with new fixtures.

“We did what we could without gutting it,” Schindler said. “We kept anything that we could, like the neat old finishes, to do justice to the style of the farmhouse while updating it.”

They relocated the porch, previously facing the street, to the back of the house for more privacy and to better enjoy the view of the garden. They built a two-car detached garage designed to look like a barn.

Growing a garden

A big factor in moving to the country was that Schindler wanted more space to flex her green thumb, which she did in spades.

“There was nothing here but grass when we got here,” she said.

Now, Schindler estimates, at least an acre has walking paths and gardens filled with perennials, pollinator plants, fruit trees and vegetables — everything from asparagus (which they sometimes sell at a local farmers market) to tomatoes.

Among her favorites are the blueberries, currants and, especially, honeyberries.

“It’s the first fruit that we see [each season], so it’s pretty exciting to get our summer fruit started in June before the strawberries are ripe,” Schindler said of the honeyberries, which are a tart berry used in making jam and pies.

To extend the growing season, they installed a small greenhouse as well as a hoop house, allowing the family to enjoy the fruits of their labor almost year-round.

“It’s nice to still be harvesting tomatoes in October,” Schindler said. “I do a lot of dehydrating and canning. I make a lot of jams.”

Bigger pastures

Nine years and countless plants later, Schindler and Breitenbach have decided to move up and out.

“We purchased 44 acres in [Wisconsin’s] Pierce County,” Schindler said. “So we’re spreading out more to have more space for gardening and up our game.

They’ve listed their 1,724-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom farmhouse.

Listing agent Betty Most said that while the house has an away-from-it-all charm, it also has high-speed fiber-optic internet and is only a 15-minute drive to Hudson, Wis., and 30 minutes to the Twin Cities.

It’s also a “gardener’s dream,” she said.

“It’s a remodeled, charming, quaint farmhouse in great condition,” Most said. “And the gardens and related sheds make it very special for a buyer.”

Betty Most (715-821-6491; BettyMost@edinarealty.com) of Edina Realty has the $415,000 listing. *At the time of publication, an offer on this property was pending.

Posted on

15-year-old boy among 3 shot in Chatham

Three people were shot, including a 15-year-old boy, Friday afternoon in Chatham on the South Side.

The shooting happened about 3:45 p.m. in the 8100 block of South Vernon Avenue, according to Chicago fire officials.

A boy, 15, was shot in the leg and transported to Comers Children’s Hospital, fire officials said.

A woman, 30 was struck in the shoulder and a man, whose age was unknown, suffered a graze wound, fire officials said. Both were taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Chicago police have not released any details on the incident.