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STOKING FIRE: Extremist Anti-Choice Groups Plan Five-State Assault

9:37 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Eleanor J. Bader for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The fanatical fundamentalists are at it again. Not to be outdone by Catholic bishops clamoring for ever-increasing fetal protections, Flip Benham’s Operation Save America has teamed up with Go Stand Speak, LifeLink, Jeremiah Cry Ministries, Personhood USA, and Repent America to  make five states—Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming—abortion “refuges.”

The five were chosen because each has just one reproductive health clinic. What’s more, the campaign to make these states abortion-free will link grassroots activism—raucous picketing, complete with billboard-sized pictures of bloody body parts–with a media crusade geared to maligning those who support freedom of choice.

According to OSA’s website, the groups will return to Jackson Hole, Wyoming from May 16th to 20th and will visit Little Rock, Arkansas from September 12th to 16th and Jackson, Mississippi from November 7the to 11th. They’ll also be in Charlotte, North Carolina during the Democratic National Convention, July 21st to 28th. As of this writing, both North and South Dakota appear to have been spared a direct appearance from OSA activists.

But lest you write off these protests as same-old/same-old, please know that they’re not. OSA’s latest effort comes with a newsworthy difference–scope. The group has not only done outreach to legislators in each targeted state, they’ve also contacted 950 evangelical churches to solicit financial and on-the-ground support.

Their appeal to largely African-American congregations included a copy of Maafa 21, a 137-minute documentary produced by Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics Inc. in 2009. The film presents abortion and birth control as central components of a Caucasian plot to annihilate people of color; it further lambasts Planned Parenthood as a purveyor of racism and hatred of the poor. Predominantly white churches received The Abortion Matrix, a 10-part, 195-minute film, released in 2011, that posits the reproductive justice movement as a satanic cult comprised of witches and goddess worshippers.

While I have no idea who bankrolled this undertaking, the missive that accompanied the DVDs—signed by Benham and OSA Assistant Director Rusty Thomas—is clearly meant to rev up the fire-and-brimstone set. The Civil War took 630,000 lives, it begins, as payback for slavery. Read the rest of this entry →

STOKING FIRE: Anti-Choicers Bring Harassment to Wyoming and Get Frosty Reception

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Eleanor J. Bader for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

It’s a tried-and-true tactic: Any time anti-abortion activists are told that they can’t disrupt worship services, harass people entering or leaving reproductive healthcare facilities, or stand in front of schools with graphic placards and signs, they scream that their First Amendment rights have been violated. This claim has oft-times proved winning, simultaneously filling the anti’s coffers and boosting their morale.

Take the city of Wichita, Kansas as an example. Yes, the very same city in which Dr. George Tiller worked–and where he was assassinated–awarded Operation Save America’s Rev. Mark Holick $11,700 in 2009 after conceding that his right to free speech had been thwarted when he was arrested at a Gay Pride parade and festival two years earlier. To hear Holick tell it, he was simply trying to “communicate the gospel” to festival-goers, not badger them by predicting that they’d burn in hell for the sin of sodomy.

Now, Holick, OSA head Flip Benham, and longtime co-conspirators Chet Gallagher and Rusty Thomas are at it again, this time in Jackson, Wyoming. The foursome filed a petition in Wyoming Supreme Court in November, alleging that their rights had been infringed upon by a restraining order meant to keep them and their signs at least two blocks away from last May’s 44th annual Elkfest, an antler auction and community party organized by local Boy Scouts to raise money for habitat enrichment and winter feeding programs for the area’s large elk population.

The OSA posse landed in Jackson several days before Elkfest and shortly after declaring that they intend to make the “Equality State”—so named because it was the first in the U.S. to grant women the right to vote—wholly “abortion free.” Their primary target is Dr. Brent Blue of Emerg-A-Care, a physician who has worked in Jackson since 1984.

“We’re a family practice that does terminations,” Blue begins. “Although less than one percent of our patients come in for them, I believe that as a family physician, abortion should be part of our practice, along with flu shots, STD screenings, dispensing birth control, and general examinations.”

Blue says that he got on the anti-abortion group’s radar a little more than a year ago when he ran for County Coroner. “I’m a Democrat,” he continues. “The guy I was up against ran as a Right-to-Life candidate. That’s when the antis began to target me and when they first started claiming that that they were going to make Wyoming abortion-free.” Read the rest of this entry →