I’ve been thinking, and reading a lot about the assassination or Dr. Tiller in Kansas last week and activities of Operation Rescue and other anti-choice groups. As a collective, their rhetoric, strategy and tactics are nothing new. They’ve been doing this for a long time. The tenor of their rhetoric is, perhaps, the only real change, and when it changes is not only interesting, but telling.
This weekend, anti-choice groups made a tactical choice that, probably inadvertently, exposed what is, at least a side motivator, if not, the true call behind their movement. The Pill Kills protests that were planned across the nation, sought to motivate people to lash out against a universally accepted medical treatment. The protesters claim that the pill “kills unborn babies”. The pill may provide birth control, but it also normalizes women’s monthly cycles, among other things beyond just limiting the possibility of a fertilized egg becoming a fetus. It’s as if these people believe that any egg that gets by, fertilized or not, is a life that has been lost. By this standard, nearly every male in the WORLD is guilty of genocide on a scale that is unimaginable.
In taking this protest forward, on the day Dr. Tiller was laid to rest, the anti-choice crowd has exposed what their real agenda is. They’re not only against abortion, but just about any kind of access to reproductive healthcare for women, period. Abortion is just the hot button issue to get the foot soldiers activated. Abortion is the motivating factor, to pull on the faith and emotions of people who may genuinely disagree with abortion, but have not been fully radicalized.
The reality of the situation is that there is no such thing as an “abortion clinic”. There are doctors who perform abortions as one in a long list of procedures that include normal OB/GYN exams and family planning and counseling. The notion that everyone who walked into Dr. Tiller’s clinic was there to get an abortion is a flight of fancy that even the anti-choice crowd should scoff at. But still, members of anti-choice groups protest these clinics, in the hope that they can deter someone, anyone, from patronizing a doctor that performs a perfectly legal procedure, just because they don’t like it. Ultimately, this action results in women being denied access to critical healthcare services.
And that’s where this whole strategy gets turned upside down. If groups like “Operation Rescue” really gave a damn about unborn babies, they would be driving poor expectant mothers to clinics for pre-natal care, rather than standing in front of clinics trying to dissuade patients from taking care of their reproductive health, and ultimately, their unborn children. For that matter, they would continue to provide support to these mothers and their children after the child is born.
Nope, the anti-choice movement doesn’t really give a damn about the expectant mothers, their unborn children, or the children after they’re born. The movement’s only interest is building a religio-political organization wrapped in an opposition to abortion, but grounded in the idea that faith, specifically THEIR faith, should be the law of the land, Constitution be damned.
Perhaps this is why the organization formerly known as “Operation Rescue West”, which is now in control of the national organization based in Kansas, lost it’s non-profit status as a ministry in 2006 for organizing politically against the Kerry campaign in 2004. Despite this political activity, Operation Rescue is not found in the FEC Disclosure database, nor is their former organization “Youth Ministries Inc.”. Their funding sources are, to my knowledge, undisclosed anywhere despite their overt political activities.
After the 1993 assassination of Dr. David Gunn by Michael Griffin (whose family was shielded from the media pro bono by Joe Scarborough), the Clinton Administration passed and signed the “”FACE Law”. The “Freedom of access to clinic entrances” law was designed to protect clinics and their patients from the kind of intimidation, vandalism, and violence that had become the more frequent in the early 90’s.
In July of 1994, Operation Rescue and other organizations came to Little Rock, the home of President Clinton, to protest the new law. Only 60 anti-choice protesters showed up, despite former Operation Rescue head Randall Terry’s prediction of 300, and thirty were arrested in one day for violating the FACE law.
Since Clinton left office, violent actions against abortion providers seemed to decline. Christina Page at Huffington Post has an interesting theory that I tend to subscribe to about why this may have been the case. Still, as mentioned in the article, in the last year of the Bush Administration there were just 396 reported harassing calls to clinics. Since the inauguration there have been some 1400. This is not because of increased interest, but as Ms. Page suggests,
…like terrorist sleeper cells, these extremists have now been set in motion. Indeed the evidence is already there. The chatter, the threats, the hate-filled rhetoric are abundant.
Back in 1994, at the Little Rock action of Operation Rescue, I was among a large group of pro-choice Arkansans who stood to “defend the clinics” against the actions of Operation Rescue. I saw and heard the more radical elements of the movement first hand, and can attest that, at least at the time, the radicalization of rhetoric used by anti-choice protesters was not only not discouraged, it was encouraged with great fervor by the leaders of the action at the time.
Individuals in the anti-Choice movement has been committing acts of vandalism and violence for decades. As detailed on Rachel Maddow’s show Monday, there has been much open discussion over the years regarding what is, or is not, fair game in the tactics of the anti-choice movement. With that in mind, the following clip is a must see.
As they mention in the interview above, accused killer Scott Roeder says there is more violence to come. Roeder’s statement is chilling, but what’s stunning is the admission in the interview above that the anti-choice movement has actually discussed the potential impact of violence in such a detached manner as if violence were some kind of political maneuver, rather than the taking of a life….something they claim to oppose.
But the real key is what Mr. Shaeffer eluded to at the end of the interview. The anti-choice movement is duty bound to report those who cross the line between protest and aggressive acts if they are serious about their claims that They Abhor Vigilantism. Until this happens, they can claim that they hold life in the highest regard, but their inaction on these acts of violence and vandalism serve as tacit approval that not only makes them complicit, but accomplices.
So the question remains, “If Someone Did, Would it Help the Movement?”. Well, someone HAS DONE IT, and more than once. The anti-choice movement can disavow and disown the actions of individuals all they want, but until they do SOMETHING to prove that they are not only against such violence in spirit and word, but also in action, either by counseling these known individuals, or reporting them to the police, the blood of these victims is on their hands.