Casualties of War

When Angela Michael started fighting God's battle against abortion, truth took the first hit

Angela would be shocked by this assessment; she insists she's learned to be gentle and treat the people at the clinic the way she wishes she'd been treated all her life. She admits that when she first started coming, she'd "jump out of the van, and as soon as my feet hit the pavement, I was trying to save babies, screaming, 'Oh, don't kill your baby.'" Now, she studies her approach: "I have about three minutes to watch them and figure out what it is. Is it money? Is it not wanting to tell their parents?"

"She knows the people to prey upon," agrees Charlie. "She'll have her kids yell, 'Mommy, Mommy, please don't kill me!' A lot of times she thinks she's 'saving' someone and really they just reschedule for the next day."

Anti-abortion activist Angela Michael
Jennifer Silverberg
Anti-abortion activist Angela Michael

Angela says she and Dan were both 19 when they met, and they married a year later, which would have been 1976. She says they've had 11 kids and loved every minute and would have had 21 without the miscarriages and stillbirths.

But in 1976, Angela Michael was Angele Scott, newly married to a construction worker named Dan Scott. They had four children before filing for divorce in 1981, accusing each other of mental cruelty and unendurable misery. Dan Scott said she'd thrown boiling water at him and hurled a fire log through his truck window. He also told the court she'd lied about being pregnant to get him to marry her, then faked a miscarriage. He admitted their third baby was conceived "with hopes of increasing our family, which we blindly thought would patch things." He said they had the fourth child because she lied again in order to get pregnant.

She says the time was so painful she can't talk about it. But their separate truths clashed and jousted for more than a decade, as they battled over child support and custody. At one point Angele actually served two weeks for contempt, until a lawyer warned the court that she'd become "unstrung worrying about her children" and the matrons had had to sedate her.

When she married fresh-faced, worshipful Dan Michael, Angela tried desperately to erase her false start, even enrolling the four oldest kids in school and camp with the last name "Michael" until a judge ordered her to change all records back to their legal names.

All she'd ever wanted was a family.

She says her first involvement with babies came as a registered nurse, but there's no proof of that, either. The nursing school where she claims to have graduated is closed. She is not currently licensed in either Missouri or Illinois and has not been for at least 20 years. Asked to clarify, she stammers a bit and says the last time she was "active" was "back in '78 or '79, maybe. I'm not real sure." Yet when asked about her qualifications to perform ultrasounds, she notes that she was "a licensed nurse" and says a young radiology technologist, also licensed, was helping her. (The technologist says apologetically that she hasn't actually had time to work with Angela on her ultrasounds.)

Although in Missouri anyone performing ultrasounds is expected to be associated with a radiologist who interprets the results, Illinois has no specific rules regulating the procedure.

The recent lawsuit stunned the Michaels, who can't imagine themselves guilty in any way. Angela says that "somehow the medical records got released" and claims she and Dan simply "sent a picture to this guy who has a Web site -- you could not tell her face."

But other photos taken outside Hope Clinic have appeared on Web sites in recent months; one shows a young woman arriving, her license plate clearly visible. The Christian Gallery -- an offshoot of the infamous Nuremberg Files Web site, where doctors' names get crossed through as they're murdered -- shows several Hope escorts and clients, and one escort remembers the Michaels' taking her picture. In its introduction, the Christian Gallery insists that infanticides (women who have abortions) should be exposed and punished, and pleads for more photographs from "butchertoriums."

The Michaels say they bring their camera to the clinic as self-protection because they've been assaulted.

And the yellow RV keeps coming, early every Friday morning and again on Saturday. "God has a plan for that baby," Angela calls, then turns toward an older woman: "Mom, could we please talk to you and your daughter? Please, Mom, think about it -- that's your grandchild!"

The couple next to her holds the Blessed Virgin painting tighter and keeps praying.

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