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The history of Operation Rescue involves a split between the original American anti-abortion group and a branch of the original group. The original Operation Rescue group is now known as Operation Save America, while the branch, once known as Operation Rescue West is now known as Operation Rescue. The branch has become more prominent than the original group, and many supporters of the original group now support the branch (which now bears the original group's name).

Contents

1980s

Operation Rescue was founded by Randall Terry in 1986.[1] The slogan of Operation Rescue was "If you believe abortion is murder, act like it's murder."[2] Randall Terry stepped down as director of Operation Rescue in 1989, appointing Keith Tucci to lead the national organization, now Operation Rescue National (ORN), as his successor.

Operation Rescue National's initial tactics involved peaceful sit-in demonstrations at abortion clinics, inspired by the civil rights demonstrations led by Dr. King in the 1960s. Operation Rescue National sprang to prominence during the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where hundreds of demonstrators were arrested, capturing national attention. Independent Operation Rescue organizations cropped up around the country during these early years, the most successful of which was the California organization, Operation Rescue West (ORW), founded by ORN’s national tactical director, Jeff White. More than 40,000 people were arrested during ORN's anti-abortion demonstrations over the first four years.

The National Organization for Women and several abortion clinics filed a lawsuit, NOW v. Scheidler against ORN in 1988. The suit alleged violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which were rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States.

1990s

ORN continued to grow into the early 1990s, targeting abortion clinics across the country. However, after President Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act into law in 1994, blockading clinics became prohibitively expensive, and the organization turned to different tactics.

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Summer of Mercy

ORN's activities gained attention again in 1991 during the “Summer of Mercy” in Wichita, Kansas, led by Keith Tucci. Thousands of anti-abortion protesters flocked to Wichita and were arrested at sit-in protests, known as "rescues". The protests were held at George Tiller's abortion clinic, and at what was then known as Wichita Family Planning, where a large “rescue” involving members of the clergy took place. Over 1,600 arrests took place during the first three weeks, with thousands of locals gathering and dozens of clergypeople becoming involved.[1] The event lasted six weeks, with 2,600 arrests[3] and culminated in a rally that filled Cessna Stadium, featuring Dr. James Dobson. The New York Times ran an article on August 4, 1991, quoting John Snow, a retired accountant who sat on the sidewalk across from Tiller's clinic in Wichita, dispensing Kool-Aid and saying the rosary. "'They're in there killing babies, nothing else, ma'am,' Mr. Snow said."[1] Keith Tucci departed as director after the Summer of Mercy.

Later activities

ORN made an attempt at a similar success in 1992 when Buffalo mayor Jimmy Griffin invited ORN for the so-called “Spring of Life.” The event became ORN's biggest public relations coup, when thousands of out-of-area protesters on both sides of the argument descended on Buffalo and Amherst, and massive riots took place. The crisis and financial hardship that the city endured because of the incidents was believed to have brought down the Griffin administration later that year. In 1994, Flip Benham became the director of ORN.

On August 10, 1995, Norma McCorvey, who was "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, announced that she was a member of ORN, and had converted to Christianity as a result of having repeated contact with Flip Benham and ORN since she worked near its headquarters office.

Name dispute

In 1999, Operation Rescue West changed hands when Jeff White stepped down from his position as director and transferred the leadership to Troy Newman. Newman moved ORW from California to Kansas, and dropped the word West from the group's name, simply calling the organization Operation Rescue. After a dispute between Flip Benham and Troy Newman over the use of the Operation Rescue name, and after Benham was named in a lawsuit, Flip Benham changed the name of his group, Operation Rescue National to Operation Save America. The former Operation Rescue West retained the name of Operation Rescue.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Drive Against Abortion Finds a Symbol: Wichita
  2. ^ Abortion, by Janet Hadley
  3. ^ Operation Rescue, Montana Human Rights Network

Sources

  • Live From the Gates of Hell: An Insider's Look at the Antiabortion Underground by Jerry Reiter (2000) ISBN 1-57392-840-2
  • Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience by Philip F. Lawler (1992) ISBN 0-87973-506-6
  • "METRO DATELINES; Anti-Abortion Group Will Close Its Offices", The New York Times, December 17, 1990
  • Jim Risen & Judy L. Thomas, Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (1998)
  • New York Times Sept 15, 2006 "Anti-Abortion Group Loses Tax Exemption" by Stephanie Strom
  • Man's views change radically 2001 Jerry Reiter interview
  • Clinics Prepare for Operation Rescue 1993
  • CourtTV

External links


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