Last weekend when I grouped Operation Rescue with American extremist groups like the KKK to make the point that it is irresponsible to assume extremists in Afghanistan or Somalia speak for all Afghans or Somalis, I felt a little guilty. I am pro-choice, and I was concerned that my beliefs were clouding my ability to distinguish between the violent racists of the KKK and the folks at Operation Rescue.
I don’t feel guilty anymore. Perhaps preparing for the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade this weekend, Operation Rescue has rolled out a new website to help pro-life activists find abortion providers (both clinics and individual doctors and board members) to target. You’ll notice this is the first time I’ve used the term “pro-life” in this post. I do not consider Operation Rescue pro-life.
On their website, they list two staff members: the president, and a “Senior Policy Advisor” who was convicted of conspiring to bomb a clinic in San Diego. While Operation Rescue has now distanced itself, it was co-founded by a man who (according to Operation Rescue) said the assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller was “has the potential to propel us more quickly to our goal.” The man who shot Dr Tiller? He was neither a member nor a volunteer of Operation Rescue but he aspired to be. It’s that kind of organization: the violent fringes of the pro-life movement seem to look up to them.
Just as they have for their former co-founder and the murderer of Dr Tiller, Operation Rescue says it is not responsible for what people do with the information they provide.
But by providing the full legal names, phone numbers, addresses, medical schools, and an embedded Google Map to the locations of not only clinics but individual doctors, board members of clinics, and clinic support staff, they are providing operational support to individual attacks.
The protesters outside my clinic have a vital Constitutional right to speak out against abortion. Though they sometimes get physical, and then get the cops called on them, they are generally peaceful.
I wouldn’t be writing this post if the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had posted a map to local abortion clinics so that protesters from their churches could organize better. But then, as a responsible civic organization, they never would include a doctor’s address and alma mater. It’s the kind of information that encourages personal attacks rather than public protest.
By building and hosting this website, Operation Rescue is setting the stage for another Scott Roeder, or James Kopp, or Eric Robert Rudolph. I would hope that their better angels might prevail upon them to re-focus their efforts on improving birth control and access to it, instituting universal sex ed, or federally-funded maternity leave and day-care to more effectively reduce the number of women seeking abortion. But I doubt they could hear the voices of angel.
HT to unknowablewoman for posting on this first.
“A free press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad.”–Albert Camus