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This morning, the New York Times reported that extremist anti-choice group Operation Rescue is targeting Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, NM. Operation Rescue is a militant group that has been linked to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. They are currently using misleading and manipulative tactics — as well as legislative avenues, including a pending 20-week abortion ban — in an attempt to shut down the clinic and bar women in Albuquerque from accessing needed abortion care. The group has even gone so far as to stage an offensive protest using the city’s Holocaust Museum, in an attempt to appropriate that tragedy as a means to their own political ends.
Previously, Katha Pollitt detailed Operation Rescue’s targeting of abortion provider Dr. Ann Neuhaus in The Nation. Dr. Neuhaus worked alongside Dr. Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, and lost her medical license as a result of Operation Rescue’s lawsuit, which accused her of keeping incomplete medical records. Pollitt writes:
Dr. Neuhaus was accused of not keeping detailed records for eleven patients ages 10 to 18, all from 2003, and of failing to prove that an abortion was necessary to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” or of the patient’s mental health. Dr. Neuhaus says she kept her records brief to protect the patients’ identities. This was a rational fear: for years, State Attorney General Phill Kline had been trying to seize abortion clinics’ patient records. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who waged a jihad against the man he frequently referred to as “Tiller the baby-killer,” mentioned during a 2006 interview with Kline that he himself had seen records from Dr. Tiller’s clinic.
Dr. Neuhaus is now being forced to pay for the legal proceedings, and NARAL National has been collecting funds to help Dr. Neuhaus her cover those expenses. You can contribute here.
Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, pro-choice residents and leaders of the Jewish community are fighting back. “The fact that they call themselves missionaries is really offensive,” Joan Lamunyon Sanford, director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and a leader of a coalition fighting the 20-week proposal, told the Times. “We don’t need outsiders bringing in this kind of disruption.”
The Times also quoted Randee B. Kaiser, chairwoman of the Holocaust museum’s board, who said, “This protest was misguided and offensive.”
We at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington are currently putting together a care package and collecting notes of support for the providers, staff, and patients at Southwestern Women’s Options, to show that we value the work that they do, and the work of women’s healthcare providers everywhere.
Notes of encouragement can be sent to MeganBurbank@ProChoiceWashington.org. We’ll collect them and send them Southwest Women’s Options as a gesture of support from their Northwest allies.
Together we can take a stand for the women of Albuquerque, and show that harassment and intimidation have no place in healthcare.
Want to do more? Signal boost this post, and sign the pledge to respect Albuquerque women. You can also donate directly to Southwestern Women’s Options.
Support independent clinics! Southwestern Women’s Options provides vital later-term abortion care in a state with very few clinics as it is.
Dan Holman, Missionaries to the Preborn, speaking to the Iowa Board of Medicine on a proposed rule to ban medication abortions provided via telemedicine.
Holman has written glowing screeds about Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion provider and the provider’s bodyguard in 1994. Warning: These articles are very disturbing and praise the use of deadly violence against abortion providers.
It doesn’t really matter if oh-snap-pro-lifers sent any harassing messages to prochoicetruth. It doesn’t matter that they say they don’t support harassment, or that they’ve deleted their post saying that finding prochoicetruth’s name and location was awesome.
(Mostly because screenshots are forever)
What does matter is that they are part of a movement that says it’s okay, even laudable, to threaten pro-choice people, physicians, and clinic employees and volunteers. By spreading lies about the effects of abortion and deeming people who get or perform abortions baby-killers, they foster an environment of violent vigilante justice, as seen in the campaign against prochoicetruth, in the dozens of arsons and bombings of clinics, in the harassment and murder of doctors and employees, and in the stalking of children.
We can counter the toxic environment the anti-choice movement has created. We can put pressure on our representatives to stop creating anti-choice bills, and start creating bills that protect pregnant people and physicians, that support reproductive choice, families and children. We can let others know that we are there to help them access safe, legal abortion. We can educate and inform, and never stop learning. We can donate to abortion funds to ensure that no person goes without care because of the cost. We can volunteer at abortion funds and pro-choice counseling hotlines. We can be everyday reproductive justice heroes.
There are so, so many ways to help create a healthy, loving, pro-choice environment. What are you going to do?
And the only reason Mississippi’s clinic is still open is because a federal judge has extended their temporary ban on the state’s new TRAP law (Targeted Regulations Against Abortion Providers)
There are actually three clinics in Arkansas, but two of them (both Planned Parenthoods) only offer the abortion pill, which is effective up to 9 weeks after your last period. Little Rock Family Planning Services provides abortions up to 21 weeks.
This is how anti-choicers prevent people from accessing abortion - not through legislation, but through stigma and threat of violence against providers. Two of three doctors at the Mississippi clinic fly in from out of state, because no local doctors/hospitals want to face the certain severe consequences from their colleagues, patients, family, and friends, as well as harassment and violence from anti-choice extremists.
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