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Fuck Operation Rescue.
I’m supposed to duck now, or something. I choose “or something.” I choose to trend hashtags on twitter that make them as famous as they ought to be. Today’s hashtag: #FuckOperationRescue.
I have only spoken about Operation Rescue (OR) in passing, mainly in the same sentence as the Pro Life Action League (PLAL). The latter targeted me and two others during Lent, so the former came up here and there as the two groups have been close for decades. Their ties go back to their participation in 1985’s “year of pain and fear” campaign spurred on by the PLAL’s founder, Joseph Scheidler. Then, last year, as Alana Massey wrote at Religion Dispatches, Troy Newman of OR outed Dr. Cheryl Chastine as the new provider in Wichita in order to pass her information on to Eric Scheidler of the PLAL for further targeting in her city of residence — despite her requests to remain a private citizen and ignoring direct contact at her home.
Though each group has managed to publicly distance themselves from violence — cashing in on our cultural amnesia when it comes to domestic terrorism, their continual need to disavow their members and the fringe behavior of those in their movement cannot be called willful ignorance at this point. It’s outright lying for their own benefit.
As Massey stated in her piece:
Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue frequently employ convicted felons like Cheryl Sullenger, and several land themselves on domestic terror lists. It would be unfair and inaccurate to claim that opposing abortion automatically makes a group violent, but to deny the ongoing history of that violence—and the role of publishing opponents’ identifying information in it—seems to be a shirking of responsibility and a lack of appreciation for one’s own context.
Indeed. Especially when you were brought up in the anti-choice movement as the son of the PLAL founder.
Scheidler attempted to split an unsplittable hair in an interview with Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog this Spring. With me on the line as well, he said he and his group are not responsible for any violent action taken by those who hear and read his words, subscribe to his newsletter and blog or tacked the poster of my face up next to their beds during Lent.
Yes. Next to their beds. From Scheidler’s PLAL blog:
Groups like PLAL cannot call me an “enemy…”
…and say I’m hard to pray for (as my face is on a poster calling for people to pray for me)…
…while claiming to care about anybody.
OR says they’re rescuing “life” by targeting patients and providers. They even have a $25,000 reward for “abortion whistle-blowers” on their website:
This clear encouragement to out abortion clinic staff occurs as a sidebar on a post which acknowledges that the environment under which doctors and staff — HUMAN BEINGS — labor to provide basic healthcare to their patients causes severe stress:
In Newman’s world, the reverse is true. Mental health issues BRING people into the “abortion industry.”
And this is just one ordinary day at Operation Rescue. They have paid staff and volunteers “investigating” clinics and owners, training groups all over the country how to target providers, staff and families at their homes, and perpetuating lies and stigma in an effort to make abortion as unsafe and inaccessible as possible.
Operation Rescue and the Pro Life Action League are not the only anti-choice groups in our country. They are not even the most fringe of the extremist activists (Google “Abolish Human Abortion” if you have a strong stomach and high resistance to triggering content); however, they are the most organized and well-funded groups with long histories and large memberships. That people don’t know who they are should terrify you.
Searching the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website for anti-abortion violence results in pages upon pages of results. Whether assassins like Scott Roeder were card-carrying members of a specific group like Operation Rescue is irrelevant. He had their literature, posted on their sites, spouted their rhetoric and fed off of their hate. Domestic terror groups can NO LONGER pretend publicly that they aren’t aware of the way their rhetoric affects the fringes of their movement. WE MUST NOT LET THEM FORGET.
So, every day, — every single day that providers are targeted and patients are shamed — I will call them out. I cannot change that I haven’t been more vocal before now. Rather than regretting my inaction, I invite you to join me in making Operation Rescue, the Pro Life Action League and the others too famous to hide behind their false disclaimers of non-violence. This from MyOwnPetard shall be my anthem henceforth:
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