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Pro-lifers were saddened to learn that long time pro-life activist Michael Schwartz succumbed to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) this past weekend. Schwartz was a behind-the-scenes strategist for pro-life efforts on Capitol Hill. He is probably best known for serving as the Chief-of-Staff to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). However, Schwartz also served as the director of the Free Congress Foundation’s Center for Social Policy and as national director of public affairs for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He was also part of the group that met in 1973 to plan to first ever March for Life. He was exceptionally knowledgeable about the history of the pro-life movement and gave a great presentation on the subject at a Students for Life of America (SFLA) conference several years ago.

I remember my first meeting with Michael Schwartz. It was after the release of one of my Heritage Foundation studies on the impact of state-level pro-life legislation. I was announcing the release of a study at a gathering on Capitol Hill. Someone from Senator Coburn’s office indicated that Michael Schwartz wanted to meet with me afterwards. He took a real interest in my research and we had a long conversation about the current direction of the pro-life movement. Afterwards he would quickly respond to any question I had about old articles or papers which I thought could help me with my research.

Even in the months leading up to his death, Schwartz frequently met with pro-life leaders to think and strategize. Before his passing, Schwartz received the National Pro-Life Religious Council’s Pro-Life Recognition Award at the National Memorial for the Preborn and Their Mothers and Fathers. He was a great friend, a great activist, and a great leader. He will be missed. RIP.

Michael New is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn, a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @ Michael_J_New .

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