Our History

As the first pro-life organization in Illinois back in 1968, we founded and helped shape this Illinois movement. Individuals like you have helped us for 46 years to lead a tradition of innovative pro-life work in Illinois. It was just a few years before the sweeping legalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade in 1973 when the founders of our organization – four doctors and a one attorney – saw the power of the abortion industry gaining control of our state. The doctors who founded us were shocked by the mis-education and mis-representation of basic scientific and medical facts the abortion industry was presenting. The attorneys who worked with our founding were bewildered by the bizarre legal claims that were being presented. Illinois Right to Life was founded to present the people of Illinois with the truth.

Over the past 45 years our mission has always remained constant throughout the years: to educate the public on the beauty and value of all human life from fertilization through natural death.

We’ve been a leader in innovative campaigns and outreach programs to educate the people of Illinois on the beauty of all human life. Over 200,000 people a day saw our pro-life highway billboards and CTA train posters. This type of education is impossible for the pro-abortion side to ignore. These signs stood radiant in public with our educational message and ensured the destruction of a child remained front-page news.

To counter the abortion industry’s targeting of the youth, our College Outreach Campaigns were so successful that we’d reach 40 colleges in Illinois with 40,000 college newspaper inserts per school.

A man the movement would soon know well was in our office when he heard a staff member, Laura, talking a woman out of having an abortion. Horrified but now deeply convicted, Tom Bressler left our offices determined to start a pregnancy crisis center. Aid for women now has 5 locations in Illinois and helps hundreds of women every year. Joe Scheidler started the Pro-life Action League after working at Illinois Right to Life because he saw a need for an organization that focused exclusively on activism.

As a leader in innovative ways to spread a culture of life we pioneered the way in using radio to reach out to women to let them know there were options other than abortion and that there people who were willing to be there for her. We’d record six different kinds of ads at once and rotate the radio ads all throughout the Illinois’ different stations.

Our pro-life Patient Self-Protection Document was labored and developed out of love. Our hearts couldn’t handle the heart-wrenching stories from our supporters who would call in an end of life situation, distressed, because their loved one was not dying a dignified death. After a lifetime of serving God, patients begged that their end of life reflect that of love, respect and dignity in life. Our Patient Self-Protection Document helps the elderly and other vulnerable members of society express their specific end of life desires that preserve their pro-life health care, organ donation or hospice decisions. This document helps us to protect the sanctity of life even until death. Right now the document is under review by our attorneys to make sure that it stays up to date with the changing Illinois laws.

Illinois Right to Life produced one of the first pro-life films to ever receive two Emmy Award. Our speaker’s bureau over the years was so popular that one speaker alone, gave 80-90 pro-life presentations in one year.

For decades, we were one of the only sources in Illinois that provided a free extensive library of books, audio tapes, and films that people regularly borrowed. Students would come to us to do research and would search – for themselves – for the truth. Outside of Illinois Right to Life, it was hard to find any place to learn about abortion or about the development in the womb.

On April 1, 2017, Illinois Right to Life and Illinois Citizens for Life, two of the state’s most established pro-life organizations, merged into one. The merger was intended to build an even larger organization to combat growing pro-abortion advances in Illinois.

Both Illinois Right to Life and Illinois Citizens for Life have educational and charitable programs dating back to the 1970s.  All educational and charitable programs previously conducted by both organizations have continued under the new merged organization.

Illinois Citizens for Life served as the state’s go-to organization for pro-life lobbying and information on defeating pro-abortion bills. With the only full-time pro-life lobbyist in the state, Illinois Citizens for Life was highly trusted by pro-life political leaders and citizens alike to be their life-affirming voice in the Illinois General Assembly. In recent years, the organization has been instrumental in defeating countless pro-abortion bills that would have increase the number of abortions by over 15,000 a year. The powerful and necessary work of Illinois Citizens for Life now continues under the new name of Illinois Right to Life.

While we could fill this page with all our campaigns and programs, the history that fills our hearts are those private stories we keep tucked away about of the lives that we have saved and the families we have helped create right here in the Land of Lincoln.