An anti-abortion siege is under way in Albuquerque, and activists there are using tactics and rhetoric we’ve heard before — tactics and rhetoric that have a marked history of getting abortion providers killed. I’m detailing the pro-life strategy of violence in Salon:
That is the anti-abortion ecosystem. It gives the more mainstream players plausible deniability when violence occurs, while allowing the radical actors to keep pro-choice activists and clinic workers in a state of fear. It’s a multi-pronged onslaught that dismantles abortion rights and terrorizes providers out of working. It’s not a handful of crazies shooting doctors, bombing clinics and blocking health care access. Shooting doctors, bombing clinics and blocking health care access are all necessary parts of the bigger picture.
Wichita is a good example. The Summer of Mercy brought out pro-lifers en masse, and a lot of them never left. Doctors were genocidal Nazis guilty of crimes against humanity. Wichita was “Auschwichita.” In 2003, Operation Rescue moved their headquarters there to continue the assault. Today, Operation Rescue operates out of a building owned by the group “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.”
Dr. George Tiller’s clinic was the primary target of the Summer of Mercy; two years later, he was shot. His clinic was picketed by anti-abortion protesters for the next decade and a half. He was listed on anti-abortion groups’ “most wanted” lists. In 2005, Kansas’s anti-abortion attorney general Phill Kline began investigating Dr. Tiller, eventually charging him with 30 misdemeanors; they were all thrown out by a judge. Kline’s successor filed 19 more charges, of which Dr. Tiller was universally acquitted. Operation Rescue and its policy director (and convicted felon) Cheryl Sullenger followed the case closely, giving information about it to anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. Kline’s investigation of Dr. Tiller was so overly-zealous and politically-motivated that Kline was tried before a Kansas Supreme Court ethics panel, and a disciplinary panel recommended he lose his license to practice law because of his “dishonest and selfish” actions. Dr. Tiller was also the subject of 28 segments on the right-wing television show The O’Reilly Factor, with Phill Kline as an occasional guest, where Dr. Tiller was repeatedly referred to as “Tiller the Baby Killer.” U.S. Representative Robert Dornan also used the phrase “Tiller the Baby Killer” on the floor of Congress.
In 2009, Scott Roeder gunned down Dr. Tiller in church. Cheryl Sullenger’s phone number was found on the dashboard of his car. The same anti-abortion groups that compared Tiller to a mass murderer and complained that the U.S. legal system wouldn’t prosecute him quickly wrote his murder off as “vigilantism.” Bill O’Reilly said that Dr. Tiller’s murder should be condemned, but added that “Every single thing we said about Tiller was true, and my analysis was based on those facts.” Robert Dornan, having lost re-election, went on to work at the American Life League, one of the largest pro-life organizations in the United States. Sullenger and Operation Rescue went after Tiller’s successor, Dr. Ann Neuhaus, exploiting a loophole in Kansas law that allows anyone to file a complaint against a doctor; they nearly bankrupted her.
With lessons learned from Wichita, Sullenger, Operation Rescue, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust and a variety of other pro-life groups are now in Albuquerque. They’re picketing at Albuquerque’s Holocaust Museum, demanding that it add an exhibit dedicated to American genocide (no, not the real one). They’re calling Albuquerque “America’s Auschwitz.”
Just as they did with Tiller and other assassinated abortion providers in advance of their murders, activists are passing out fliers with the faces of Albuquerque abortion providers on them, with the text “Killers Among Us.” Naturally, these activists deny they’re courting violence.
But here’s the thing: If anti-abortion groups actually believe what they say, then vigilante violence is a logical response. How many of us wish that someone would have taken Hitler out when they had the chance? Would many people argue that it would be wrong for private citizens to off Nazis, especially given that the German government supported them and they committed their crimes legally?
The full piece is here.
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