Who is Maison DesChamps, the recently arrested ‘Pro-life Spider-man’?

Maison DesChamps Maison DesChamps has assumed the brand of "pro-life spiderman" as he has scaled seven city skyscrapers to bring attention to the pro-life cause. In this photo, he is climbing the Accenture Tower in Chicago Oct. 10, 2023. | Credit: Pro-Life Spiderman/YouTube Oct. 13, 2023

On Oct. 10, 24-year-old Maison DesChamps was free-climbing the exterior of Chicago’s historic 40-story Accenture Tower with one thought in mind: saving the life of an unborn child.

The stunt, which he has pulled off several times before on different skyscrapers across the country, ended in his arrest by the Chicago Police Department and the relief of many nervous bystanders watching him complete the task.

But it also ended in — as of Tuesday — more than $20,000 being raised for a woman named Sierra, who felt pressured to get an abortion because of lack of financial resources and material support.

DesChamps’ climb was in an effort to garner funds for Sierra on behalf of the pro-life organization Let Them Live. The goal was to raise $27,000, but donations were still flowing in on Tuesday.

Free climbing is the term used for a style of climbing that doesn’t involve using any aid devices. 

A public pro-life activist for almost two years now, DesChamps has assumed the nickname “Pro-life Spider-man” for his many feats. 

But who is this risky free-climber? And where did he get the idea to scale skyscrapers for the unborn?

‘I do get a little scared’

DesChamps has now completed seven fundraising climbs on city skyscrapers for the pro-life cause, which has often landed him both on the local evening news — and in jail.

“We’re going to speak out and stand up for these babies that don’t have a voice,” DesChamps told FOX 2 Detroit after scaling one of the almost-40-story buildings that are part of the city’s famous Renaissance Center.

After being arrested in May 2022 for climbing the 61-story Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, DesChamps told ABC7 that “these doctors are literally killing these babies on the table and leaving them out to die.” 

“We’re not trying to yell at women who want to have an abortion, we don’t want to blame them... we just want to let them know there are other options,” he said.

Each time DesChamps climbs a tower, thousands of dollars are raised for a woman considering abortion in order to support her pregnancy to term and after.

But he puts his own life at substantial risk during these stunts. And he is well aware of the risk while he’s making these hazardous ascensions without ropes or harnesses.

“The truth is I do get a little scared. I get a little nervous, but I work past it and I do a lot of things scared because I think about what’s at stake,” DesChamps, of Las Vegas, Nevada, told CNA on Oct. 12. 

In 2022, DesChamps, a skilled rock climber, was offered a job by Let Them Live, a pro-life organization with a mission to financially and emotionally support pregnant mothers considering abortion so that they can feel confident choosing life.

His responsibilities as an “ambassador” consist of promoting the organization in any way he can.

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When he was offered the job, DesChamps immediately dropped out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas — where he had already dedicated three years of study to be a financial planner — and started doing pro-life work full time.

Originally from Michigan, he told CNA that he thought about being a financial planner because he could make a good salary and donate to the pro-life cause but added that he felt his calling was elsewhere.

“I think what I’m doing is more important because I get to inspire others to make sacrifices, and that’s what needs to happen,” he said.

Training to climb skyscrapers

When training for his latest climb, DesChamps scaled a rock wall at a local gym until he traveled about 1,000 feet. At 5-foot-7, 135 pounds, DesChamps made the trek two to three times a day until he felt like he was prepared. 

During his training however, he tore a tendon in his hand and considered postponing the climb. 

“But I decided that rather than delay the climb, I would just push extra hard and do it anyway because I know that we can save a life by risking my own,” he said. 

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DesChamps’ training schedule is continuous throughout the year so he doesn’t have a ramp-up season before his climb. 

Additionally, he doesn’t even visit the buildings in person before he scales them. Sometimes, he only studies them through Google Maps. 

“I just look at them and say, ‘OK, well, this one looks climbable’ and you show up and you climb it,” he said. 

A ‘punk rock radical protest’

DesChamps originally got the idea to climb buildings for the pro-life cause by a Frenchman named Alain Robert, who grappled his way to the top of the New York Times building in Times Square in 2008, hanging a banner from the top that said “Global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week.”

DesChamps saw Robert, who goes by the nickname “The French Spider-Man,” and said to himself, “I can do that.”

“And how cool would it be to have this sort of punk rock radical protest for the pro-life movement?”

At that moment, “Pro-life Spider-man” was born. 

DesChamps climbed the New York Times building himself in 2022 and offered a twist on Robert’s message with a sign of his own: “ABORTION KILLS MORE THAN 9/11 EVERY WEEK!”

The New York Times never covered the story of DesChamps’ climb, despite several national outlets running the story. The paper did, however, cover Robert’s climb back in 2008.

A Christian speaker

DesChamps, a former Catholic turned reformed Baptist, said he is speaking on the pro-life cause across the country every weekend of the year, hitting approximately 40 churches a year for Let Them Live.

In August, he was a guest speaker at a rally in Ohio ahead of a November state vote proposing to enshrine abortion rights into law.

“This is an important battle and our children’s lives are at stake,” DesChamps said at that rally, which also headlined “The Passion of the Christ” star Jim Caviezel, pro-life activist Abby Johnson, and leader of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland. 

The rally was put on by the advocacy group Catholics for Catholics. 

Although DesChamps no longer identifies as Catholic, he said, “Bishop Strickland, dude. I tell people I’m not Catholic, but Bishop Strickland is my bishop.”

Unphased by arrests 

When DesChamps was arrested atop of the Accenture Tower earlier this month, Chicago Police charged him with reckless conduct and criminal trespass to land, both misdemeanors. 

DesChamps has been arrested on six of his seven pro-life climbs, but it’s never fazed him. 

“I don’t mind going to jail if it’s going to save a life,” he told CNA. 

“I don’t encourage people going out and breaking the law. But the truth is, we can only follow the law until the law of our government gets in the way of the law of our God,” he said.

“One of the commandments that God’s given us is to rescue those who are being led into death. So if we have to do a sit-in, I don’t see a problem with that. If we climb a building, it’s not a big deal. I don’t think we should go around and vandalize and be nefarious. I don’t encourage that whatsoever. But we have to make a statement to save these children.”

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