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Cincinnati Right to Life was founded by pro-life heroes Dr. John (Jack) Willke and his wife Barbara. Dr. Willke was a third-generation physician, engaging in family practice and obstetrics. Coincidentally, Mrs. Willke worked as a nursing instructor and later served her family as a full-time mother, caring for their six children. They were internationally renowned and are, to this day, considered the patriarch and matriarch of the pro-life movement.
With incredible foresight of the trajectory of culture and society, Dr. and Mrs. Willke initially founded Ohio Right to Life in 1967 in Cincinnati. A few years later, they moved it to Columbus and went on to establish Cincinnati Right to Life in 1971, beginning with the legislative arm. They quickly recognized that pro-life lawmaking and education must go hand-in-hand. Consequently, they founded the educational arm of Cincinnati Right to Life in 1973 to educate on a range of bioethical issues, including abortion, human experimentation, and euthanasia. Finally, Dr. and Mrs. Willke founded the Cincinnati Right to Life Political Action Committee also in the early 1970s to inform the public of pro-life candidates through campaign endorsements. The couple shared the chairmanship of Cincinnati Right to Life in the early years and maintained their involvement for the rest of their lives.
Furthermore, they stimulated the organization and founding of Birthright in Cincinnati, Ohio, serving on its original international board. Dr. Willke also served as president of Life Issues Institute which was founded in 1991, an educational foundation headquartered initially in Cincinnati. Mrs. Willke was instrumental in establishing pro-life women help centers in the metro area and served as the president of Cincinnati Right to Life until her retirement from pro-life work.
To this day, Cincinnati Right to Life carries on the mission entrusted to us by Dr. and Mrs. Willke. We have been at the forefront of every major pro-life victory, most recently seeing our state through the passage of the Heartbeat Bill. Over the years, we have adapted to new techniques and technologies, but we have never strayed from the course to abolish abortion and prevent euthanasia in Greater Cincinnati and beyond.
Dr. and Mrs. Willke's work extended far beyond Cincinnati and Ohio. Dr. Willke was a physician, author, lecturer, radio personality, and expert in human sexuality with international leadership in the pro-life movement. Furthermore, he was a founding life member of the National Alliance for Family Life. Dr. Willke served as president of the National Right to Life Committee for 14 years, and founded the International Right to Life Federation (IRLF) in 1983, serving as its president for years. As president of IRLF, Dr. Willke traveled with Mrs. Willke extensively overseas, lecturing in 83 different countries and meeting with world leaders, including members of Congress, Parliaments, Pope John Paul II and multiple presidents.
While the Willkes had several publications, they are best known for their book called Abortion: Questions and Answers. This book was a critical handbook for those working and advocating in early days of the pro-life movement.
Dr. and Mrs. Willke were married for 65 years. Mrs. Willke died in 2013, followed by Dr. Willke in 2015. The late Congressman Henry Hyde's quote is particularly fitting for these pro-life warriors.
"When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God -- and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there'll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world -- and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, 'Spare him, because he loved us!'"
More information about Dr. and Mrs. Willke
Pro-Life Pioneer Called to Heaven
Willke, A Catholic Doctor and Longtime Pro-Life Advocate, Dies at 89
National Right to Life Mourns the Death of Dr. John C. Willke
Pro-Life Pioneer John C. Willke Dies at Age 89
Dr. Willke's Legacy Marked by Commitment to True Reproductive Health
Articles authored by Dr. John Willke with Life Issues Institute
What you can do to protect LIFE?
40 Days for Life
- 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through: prayer and fasting, constant vigil, and community outreach. Help keep a constant vigil of prayer outside of Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati where they perform chemical and surgical abortions. 40 Days for Life campaigns run in the spring (Lent) and fall. Lead your church or group to adopt a vigil day from 7am-7pm or sign up on your own. Contact Mary Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.40daysforlife.com
Saturday Pro-Life Mass and Prayer Vigil
Hosted by: Helpers of God's Precious Infants & Mary's Mantle
- Every Saturday - Mass at Holy Name Church on Auburn Avenue at 8:00 a.m., followed by Planned Parenthood vigil. Contact John Wendeln at 513-218-1938.
Life's 5th Quarter Mass and Prayer Vigil
- Pro-life challenge to high school and college students on the 5th Saturday of the month. Mass at 8:00 a.m. at Holy Name Church on Auburn Avenue, followed by Rosary prayer walk to Planned Parenthood. Contact Richard Andolina at 513-703-7408 or at www.facebook.com/lifes5thquarter
First Saturday Pro-Life Rosary and Mass
- 9:00 a.m. Rosary and Mass at the Holy Spirit Center, followed by coffee and a speaker. Contact Jerry Schmidt at 513-509-9841 or email@example.com
Couples for Christ Rosary for Life
- 1st Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at All Saints Parish on Montgomery Road. Contact Leo DeVela at 513-791-1011.
Third Friday Pro-Life Mass
- Mass at noon at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood. Contact 513-421-3131.
Cenacles of Life
- Held every Sunday at the Church of the Resurrection (1750 1st Avenue in Price Hill). Includes Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary, and other prayers. Contact 513-922-4231 or www.cenaclesoflife.org.
Contact Cincinnati Right to Life Office 513-728-7870 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Help Elect Pro-Life Legislators
- Help to get out the pro-life vote by distributing Cincinnati Right to Life's pro-life ballots.
- Give expert or concerned citizen testimony at the Ohio Statehouse for current legislation.
- Submit your name and e-mail to receive calls to action regarding important legislative votes or support. Agree to make phone calls, write letters, or send e-mails to legislators.
Start or become involved with your church or community Respect Life / Pro-Life group.
Assist in planning and coordinating Cincinnati Right to Life engagement events:
- Annual Mother's Day Flower Sale (flowers sold in churches around the city) - assistance needed in coordination
- Annual 5K Run/Walk for Life - committee members needed
- Cross the Bridge for Life - steering committee members needed
Help at the Cincinnati Right to Life Office
- Stuff envelopes and fold/tab newsletters
- Deliver newsletters to local churches
- General handiwork
Volunteer at a local pregnancy center
- Find one here.
Engage your own church members, communities, schools, neighborhoods, etc.:
- Host baby showers at church or in your community to obtain materials for donation to local pregnancy centers.
- Host church or community-wide events with speakers about relevant life topics (i.e. end of life issues, abortion, infanticide, etc.)
- Host a showing of 'Unplanned ' or the Roe v. Wade movie this year.
- Set up a Cemetery of the Innocents (white crosses) display. More information here: https://cincinnatirighttolife.org/projects/cemetery-of-theinnocents/
- Share the Cincinnati Right to Life newsletter in your church (if permitted).
- Spread the word about OptionLine at 1-800-712-HELP (4357) and PregnancyCenters.org to help women in crisis. You can post this on your church website, buy a billboard ad, purchase a digital advertisement, etc.
- Minister to post-abortive women by engaging with groups like Rachel's Vineyard (rachelsvineyard.org) or Silent No More (silentnomoreawareness.org)
We are a proud member organization of the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio.
This coalition is an organization of pro-life groups in Ohio that stand united to advance a pro-life strategy in our state and beyond, with protections for all and exceptions for none.
Click here to learn more about the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio.
The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a trusted sources for medical information. According to their site, they are a national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children. ACPeds was founded by a group of concerned physicians who saw the need for a pediatric organization that would not be influenced by the politically driven pronouncements of the day. The ACPeds bases its policies and positions upon scientific truth within a framework of ethical absolutes. Of particular importance to the founders were (as it is today) the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and the importance of the fundamental mother-father family unit in the rearing of children.
Click here to learn more.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) is the largest professional medical organization representing prolife women's healthcare practitioners in the world. It exists to encourage and equip its members and other concerned medical practitioners to provide an evidence-based rationale for defending the lives of both the pregnant mother and her pre-born child.
AAPLOG's organizational vision is to be the pre-eminent medical voice that informs the medical community, policy makers and the public on the importance of declining to use death as a therapeutic option, which respects the dignity of all human life and prohibits the taking of a life by a medical practitioner, including the lives of pre-born children.
Click here to learn more.