Revolutionary Worker #915, July 13, 1997
The enemies of women are launching a new offensive. The reactionary anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has announced it will invade Dayton, Ohio from July 13-19. They plan on bringing anti-choice activists from all over the United States to harass women going into abortion clinics, threaten doctors and staff, try to close clinics, and spread their poison in the media.
Operation Rescue is calling this a national "Return to Truth." But as Refuse & Resist! has pointed out, it should more accurately be called a campaign to "Continue the Lies."
A leaflet put out by R&R! and Anti-Racist Action said:
"They say they're going to be: holding evening 'prayer' rallies at local churches and `prayer vigils' at abortion clinics; recruiting youth; and holding workshops on `pro-life' actions.
"We call it: promoting hate; trying to make women feel shame, guilt and apology for choosing to terminate unwanted pregnancies; poisoning brains; and basic training in how to harass and intimidate women and abortion providers."
Operation Rescue has scheduled "street activities," a "funeral procession" and daily youth rallies and "training." All the top reactionary leaders of the anti-abortion movement are scheduled to speak, including Flip Benham, Keith Tucci, Randall Terry, Joe Scheidler, Pat Mahoney and Judy Brown.
This Operation Rescue campaign is focusing on late-term abortions and is targeting Dr. Martin Haskell, who has a clinic in Dayton. Haskell helped develop the D&X procedure used for some second and third trimester abortions and has testified in Congress against efforts to ban late-term abortions. The antis have used the issue of late-term abortions to spread more lies and confusion about abortion. They call the D&X procedure a "partial birth abortion"--a term they invented in order to play on people's emotions and falsely equate abortion with infanticide. By calling doctors "baby-killers" they have created a political climate where doctors and clinic workers have been murdered. And in just the last six months, 14 abortion clinics have been burned or bombed.
Several pro-choice groups are organizing opposition to Operation Rescue's invasion of Dayton. And Refuse & Resist! and Anti-Racist Action is calling on people around the country to come to Dayton to join this important counteroffensive. R&R!'s 10-point "Program to Defend Women's Rights" stresses the importance of taking on the antis in many different ways--including clinic defense, counter-demonstrations, protecting doctors, getting in the media, and educational forums.
The battle shaping up in Dayton is bigger than any one clinic or city.
What will it mean if Operation Rescue is allowed to invade a city, unopposed, and carry through with their plan to spread all kinds of poisonous anti-women lies, threaten doctors, get all kinds of media coverage, and close down clinics?
In 1991 when anti-abortion forces invaded Wichita with a big campaign, pro-choice forces did not organize in a major way to take them on. The antis were able to claim this "victory" in Wichita showed the righteousness of their cause. And the pro-choice movement suffered a demoralizing defeat.
Compare this to what happened in 1992 when anti-abortion forces launched another major campaign in Buffalo. This time the pro-choice movement mobilized people from all over the country to come to Buffalo and defend the clinics and counter the antis. This time, a strong message went out in defense of the right to choose. And people around the country saw the ugly lies of the antis being countered in both words and action. For the pro-choice movement as a whole, it was very important that people took a stand in Buffalo.
When Operation Rescue invades a city with a major campaign, the stakes in the battle around abortion get raised. Many eyes get focused on the situation. And what happens in one city can have ramifications for the struggle nationwide.
Now the line is being drawn in Dayton. The very lives of women are at stake. And it is up to the people to counter the lies, threats and attacks from those who want to deny women the right to choose.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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