Monday, June 1, 2009

"Our Most Effective Rhetoric And Actions"

That's what Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, is looking to preserve in the wake of the Tiller murder: the ability to "peacefully protest" abortion providers. Terry fears that, following Dr. Tiller's shooting in his Church yesterday that the authorities will seek to curtail anti-abortion protest efforts.

Hilzoy looks into those so-called peaceful protests. She found a chilling example in a Rolling Stone review of (also from Operation Rescue) Troy Newman's campaign against Dr. Tiller - which targeted not only the MD but his entire staff and any service enterprise even loosely associated with the clinic. This includes mass protests at homes, shopping and entertainment venues, mass mailings to entire neighborhoods, mailings and protests at spouses' places of employment, harassment of businesses that clinic staff frequented, and other reprehensible tactics.

From Rolling Stone:
Operation Rescue's smear campaign against [clinic administrative assistant Sara] Phares is part of a new strategy to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting. Banned by law from blockading clinics as it did in its early days, Operation Rescue has taken its offensive to the front lawns and mailboxes of clinic workers. In Wichita, members of the group rummage through employees' garbage in search of incriminating information. They tail them around town as they run errands. They picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they're inside having dinner and castigate them while they're standing in line at Starbucks. Operation Rescue is also visiting companies that do business with the clinic and threatening them with a boycott if they don't sever their ties with the facility. This is America's new abortion war, and the objective, in military terms, is to cut off the supply lines to abortion clinics and demoralize their troops.

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, calls it the Year of Rebuke -- and if it works in Wichita, he plans to unleash the campaign of intimidation on abortion clinics all across the country. "I want these employees to realize that their lives have changed," he says. "As long as they're embedded in the abortion industry receiving blood money, they can't live a normal life. They just can't."

If you read the whole story, you can find out how Newman threatened the Tillers' dry cleaner and a cab company that sometimes took patients to and from the clinic:
Newman then tells him, in the most courteous tone imaginable, that he might see a few people outside the company holding signs. Just to let everybody know what he's participating in. "It's not personal," Newman says gently.

They also go through employees' trash, and offer rewards for incriminating information. They stop children on sidewalks and tell them their neighbors kill little babies.

The point made is very clear: organisations like Operation Rescue employ the sort of aggressive, intimidating tactics that their opponents are (to put it mildly) reluctant to use against them. Those methods are met with charges "religious discrimination," "harassment," "assault" and other inflammatory descriptors by the anti-choice league when used against them. Yet somehow they are "legitimate, peaceful protest" methods when used by the anti-choice groups to intimidate and harass anyone working for, or doing business with, an abortion provider.

If anyone thinks this is acceptable, imagine taking these tactics and applying them to the treatment of, say, a religious minority or ethnic group. Suddenly the offensiveness of these activities becomes more apparent. And once the offensiveness of the methods is made apparent, it becomes clear that there is no justification for them. The claims of the anti-choice groups that they are saving lives ring hollow when it becomes clear how many lives they are destroying in the process.

H/T Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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