Rescue Missions: Saving Lives Through Direct Action

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

I really respect your [pro-lifer's] right to try to stop me if you think I am committing murder. Maybe you even have an obligation, as you say. But why aren't you using the most effective means possible? Why are you playing the power politics game at all? Shouldn't you be focusing your efforts on the women who are actually having abortions? Is it the fetus or the law you really care about?

Vicki Z. Kaplan of the National Abortion Rights Action League.[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

So-called anti-choice 'rescue missions' are a reprehensible tactic aimed solely at terrorizing and endangering women in crisis situations. These fanatics are breaking the law, disrupting the legal system, and agitating for total anarchy. Additionally, blockades at reproductive health facilities have been shown to physically endanger women's lives.

The tactic of blocking entrance to medical facilities must not be tolerated by society.


An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

Martin Luther King, Jr., who was arrested 22 times for civil disobedience.

No pro-life action has been so misunderstood by the public, the pro-aborts, and even Christians as rescue missions.

A rescue is not organized to make a statement; it is not a mere "sit-in;" it is an actual and earnest attempt to save lives!

As rescuer John Ryan says, "If I knew someone was going to kill you tomorrow, what would you want me to do? Write to my Congressman? Organize a Right-to-Life chapter? Or send a check to finance an educational effort?"[2]

A rescue mission is mounted to save unborn lives and mother's health by placing oneself between the victims and the killer the abortionist. The philosophy of rescue is as simple as that.

A Brief History of the Rescue Movement.

Do the right thing and let the law catch up with you.

Pro-abortion Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall.[3]

The First Rescuers.

As long ago as 1970, small and intermittent rescues were performed in New York, Colorado, and Oregon in response to the liberalization of those state's abortion laws. However, there was no national organization coordinating rescue efforts.

Many pro-life activists wish with great intensity that they could "do it all over again, and do it right;" if tens of thousands of rescuers had stood up en masse on January 23, 1973 and pledged that no abortion mill would open, we would probably not have legal abortion today.

However, such was not the case. Pro-lifers can sigh and dream, but, as the Neoliberals like to say, "That was then this is now."

A Massive Submovement.

Since Operation Rescue hit the pavement in mid-1987, more than 100,000 persons have risked arrest, and more than 70,000 have been arrested. It is estimated that at least 500 lives have been saved. These numbers mean that the Rescue movement is now ten times larger than the original civil rights movement ever was, in terms of arrests and those who are willing to risk arrest.

Some leading clergymen echo a common complaint by asserting that the results of Operation Rescue are "insignificant." In other words, they are implying that the 500 lives saved by rescue missions are worthless. Rescuers may respond by asking "So, how many human lives are significant?"

A thousand? One hundred? Fifty? Twenty? One?

Back to the Future.

In a chilling portent of the future, the first rescue mission to save a born human being from extermination occurred on Tuesday, December 18, 1990, in Mount Vernon, Missouri.

Nineteen persons were blocked and arrested by a phalanx of dozens of police officers as they tried to reach the hospital room of Nancy Cruzan, who had been disconnected from her feeding tube on December 13th at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center (how's that for an Orwellian name)!

The charges resulting from this action were identical to those levied for rescuers at abortion mills; criminal trespass and unlawful assembly.[4]

As the pro-euthanasia movement gathers steam, we will see more rescues carried out at hospitals and nursing homes around the country. The only difference between these future rescue missions and the ones being carried out now is that the victims have names. Future rescues may also take place at euthanasia mills ("obitoriums," as Jack Kevorkian calls them), which will certainly be staffed by the same people who run abortion clinics today.

Doing Right In Spite of Fright.

To stand up for truth is nothing! For truth you have to sit in jail.

                                                         Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.

Even Vietnam veterans have said that nothing can be quite as frightening as sitting down in front of an abortion clinic, placing yourself between the abortionist and his helpless and innocent victims, quite simply because rescuers are unarmed and will not fight back; they are identifying with the helplessness of the victims. Clinic escorts frequently turn violent, but they are tame compared to the antics of some of our police officers, who routinely beat rescuers with nightsticks and apply "pain compliance techniques" (i.e., legalized torture) in attempts to force rescuers to comply or move.

As Father Daniel Berrigan, longtime peace activist and Catholic priest who recently began doing rescues, says; "During every arrest, my stomach turns over. I feel sick. I feel afraid. I don't want to go through this again. But the push of conscience is a terrible thing. And at some point, your cowardly bones get moving, and you say "here it goes again," and you do it. And you have a certain peace because you did it."[5]

As some pro-life activists have said, anyone who says he is not afraid during a rescue is either crazy or a liar.

Brutality Against Rescuers.

Not only do people accept violence if it is perpetrated by legitimate authority, they also regard violence against certain kinds of people as inherently legitimate, no matter who commits it.

                                                             American sociologist Edgar Z. Friedenberg.[6]


Those who rescue at abortion clinics invariably sit and pray, and do not even react when they are assaulted by police and escorts. This lack of retaliation seems to enrage the rescue opposition and drive them to even greater acts of violence. This is no surprise. Pro-abortionists are violent by nature, and police dislike any challenge to their authority or to the 'peace.'

The Communist Viewpoint.

The American Communists, in particular, are outraged by Operation Rescue's non-violent tactics.

The October 30, 1989 issue of the Revolutionary Worker features a piece on how to deal with rescuers;

In 1925 Lu Hsun, a great revolutionary writer in China, wrote an essay about what the people's attitude should be toward the enemy. When they are in retreat, he said, we should show no mercy. He said, "Dogs should be pushed into the water, then soundly beaten. If they fall into the water themselves, there is no harm in beating them either ... The nature of a dog cannot be changed."

In other words, no discussion, no compromise, just physical assault.

Remember that these are the people who accuse pro-lifers of being violent!

Police Cowardice.

This attitude is often reflected by the police whose sworn duty is allegedly "to protect and serve." This inexcusable and cowardly behavior by police reflects the lengths to which society will go to protect child-killing. Literally hundreds of rescuers have been assaulted and seriously injured by the very people who are supposed to protect against such behavior.

And, when the rescuers come to trial, they can expect to be given exceptionally severe sentences, often greater than those meted out to people who have been convicted of repeated felonies: Drug dealing, assault, child abuse, and so on.

This should be no surprise to pro-lifers; our legal system has elevated abortion to a level above any other right. Abortion is considered to be a dirty but necessary service, on the level of corpse removal in India. And, like the untouchables who remove those bodies, abortionists in this country are also 'untouchables.'

And the courts do protect the baby-killers often with vicious glee. As Martin Luther said in his 1552 work On Secular Authority, "Judges must be harsh, power implacable, repression pushed beyond false sentimentality, indeed to the point of cruelty: Because God's mercy has nothing to do with temporal order."[7]

A description of a few of the more extreme examples of brutality towards peaceful rescuers follows.

The Pittsburgh Nightmare.

On March 11, 1989, rescuers were piled onto buses with tinted windows so police could beat them without being witnessed. Police removed their badges. 120 rescuers were refused food for 33 hours under the pretense that they might "start a riot," even though the Salvation Army offered repeatedly to feed them. Several diabetic and hypoglycemic rescuers had to be hospitalized.

While female rescuers were being processed, they were kicked, beaten, and dragged around by their hair and breasts, and some male officers stripped their upper bodies and fondled their breasts in full view of cheering male prisoners. All religious items belonging to rescuers were taken, destroyed in front of them, and thrown in the trash.

Police punched women in the breasts and threatened to rape and sodomize them. Doctor's reports issued after their release state that the women were "obviously and violently beaten."

One female officer, Gwen Elliott, a police commander, a former board member of the Women's Health Services abortion mill, and a member of the National Abortion Rights Action League, insisted that she had been assaulted, even when confronted with solid evidence showing no such assault ever happened.

Elliott alleged that her mother died of an illegal abortion, and has started a fund for poor women to get abortions.[8]

West Hartford.

In March 1989, police removed their badges to preclude individual identification, and proceeded dragged rescuers on their faces and by their hair for distances of 100 to 150 feet, breaking at least five bones. Police also hoisted rescuer's full body weight on crossed nightsticks, purposely inflicting extreme pain. When rescuers could not control themselves and screamed in agony, the police laughed uproariously. When rescuers called on the name of Jesus, the police shouted "Call out for Satan instead!"[9]

All injured persons, including those with broken bones, were denied medical treatment for 32 hours. Many rescuers were thrown into cold cells, and the air conditioning was turned on full blast to chill them. They were not given blankets for two days. After the rescue, authorities hounded rescuers and onlookers, and threatened several persons with lawsuits.

Father Norman Weslin was severely beaten and then thrown into a section of the Hartford Correctional Community Center which was dominated by homosexuals who threatened to sodomize him as soon as he fell asleep.

At the June 17, 1989 rescue in West Hartford, police arrested three clearly-identified journalists, destroyed all notes and videotapes, and exposed all the film they could seize (police had been embarrassed by videotapes taken during the March rescue). They stripped and beat up rescuers once they were safely out of sight of the public.[10]

Many rescuers were carried by nightsticks crisscrossed under their arms so that their shoulders dislocated. Chief of Police Robert McCue supervised the methodical beating of a Catholic priest in the station.

After this savagery, the West Hartford Town Council on June 27 unanimously passed a resolution praising the police force for "... its professional and sensitive handling of these difficult situations."[11] The local paper, the pro-abortion Hartford Courant, whined that Jews who have suffered at the hands of Nazis are "devalued" by the complaints of injured pro-lifers.

On July 5, the town of West Hartford filed a racketeering (RICO) suit against the publisher of the Orange County Post for the heinous offense of publishing an opinion column entitled "Redneck Justice," which highlighted police brutality. It seems that, although the town commended its officers for being "professional and sensitive," it would simply not tolerate the airing of other opinions.

An angry judge threw out the suit.

Sacramento. In July 1989, rescuers at the Feminist Women's Health Center were maced by police, despite the fact that they remained totally passive and nonthreatening. Two newborn babies in the arms of bystanders also were maced.


After police reacted to the Operation Rescue "Siege of Atlanta" in 1988 with extreme violence, several prominent members of the civil rights movement expressed outrage and revulsion at the police brutality shown towards OR, and compared rescuing to the tactics used in their movement.

Atlanta City Councilman Hosea Williams said that;

I think what is happening in Atlanta right now is just terribly anti-American. It hurts me so bad that we who were the leaders of the [civil rights] movement in the '50s, '60s, and '70s are now the political leaders, and we are doing the same thing to [Operation Rescue] demonstrators that George Wallace and Bull Connor and those did to us.[12]

Earl Shinhoster, Southeastern Regional Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said that

As a tactic and strategy, I see a great many similarities between the abortion protestors and the tactics of the '60s. I think they tore a page straight out of the book of the '60s. The officials in Atlanta are responding, quite frankly, the same way officials in Southern cities did 20 years ago. They're using whatever forms by way of law enforcement or the courts to make it uncomfortable for the protestors.[12]

Finally, state representative Tyrone Brooks said that "It's a national disgrace in my opinion. I think the city of Atlanta should back off. Those people feel that the law is unjust. They are challenging that law. Dr. King said if you see a law that you feel in your heart is unjust, you have a moral obligation to stand up and challenge that law."[12]


This kind of brutality does not end on the streets. If rescuers come to trial, they are usually confronted with judges who let their pro-abortion sentiment interfere with the performance of their duties. Additionally, many pro-lifers must endure blatantly biased city ordinances passed specifically to target them.

Milwaukee passed a typical "pro-life special" in 1988. A 20-member committee was appointed by the Wisconsin State legislature to study the regulation of abortion. This committee was dominated by hard-core pro-aborts, including "Reverend" Elinor Yeo of the United Church of Christ, who was, not coincidentally, the director of an abortion mill named the Milwaukee Women's Health Organization.

The committee passed the so-called "Criminal Trespass Upon a Medical Facility" ordinance, part of a state law called the Pregnancy Prevention Act, which carried a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, thereby giving pro-lifers special punishments that were not applicable to any other kind of trespass.[13]

On the same day nine pro-lifers were convicted under this new statute (the judge having prohibited the use of the necessity defense), Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman were exonerated for their illegal protest of CIA recruitment at the University of Massachusetts. They received the necessity defense, because the judge found that human life was in imminent danger thousands of miles away in Central America!

Our anti-life society seems perfectly willing to pay a high price to prosecute and jail rescuers, even if it means putting its other citizens in danger. Figure 81-1 is an analysis of the high cost of jailing each rescuer a bill that comes to more than $3,000 per person!


(1) The cost of arresting and initially
processing each of 70,000 rescuers
at 1,500 rescues at about $275 per
person (for manpower and paperwork
costs) is                                                                                     $19,255,000

(2) The average cost to the taxpayer of
1,500 court and jury trials (ranging
from quick appearances of one person
pleading guilty to month-long trials
involving scores of rescuers) is about
$3,750                                                                                        $5,625,000

(3) The average stay in jail of the
approximately 42,000 convicted rescuers
is about 4 days (most first-time rescuers
do not receive any jail time, but more
than 1,000 have served sentences ranging
from 30 days to 2-1/2 years), resulting
in a total of about 460 years in jail for
rescuers. The average cost of housing and
feeding one prisoner for one year is about
$35,000, for a total cost of                                                        $16,100,000

(4) Assuming that these rescuers replaced
garden-variety criminals who were set
free to commit a typical range of crimes,
about 17,000 excess crimes would be
committed for the 460 'criminal-years'
that they were replaced by rescuers in
jail. These crimes are listed below.
        15 murders                      60 arsons
      130 rapes                        400 robberies
      600 aggravated assaults   900 auto thefts
   2,300 burglaries               5,400 larcenies and thefts
   7,000 illegal drug sales
The direct cost to the victims of these
crimes is about                                                                           $15,000,000.

(5) The cost of arresting, processing, trying
and housing the criminals mentioned
in (4), based upon average arrest and
conviction rates and average prison
sentences actually served;                                                          $81,000,000

GRAND TOTAL:                                                                 $130,100,000
Cost to society per convicted rescuer:                                            $3,100

Reference: United States Bureau of the Census, 1989 National Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. Table 277, "Crime and Crime Rates," Table 284, "Average Cost of Crimes," Table 294, "Arson Statistics," Table 301, "Costs of Correctional Facilities," and Table 318, "Prison Population."

Protests from the United Nations.

While local and Federal authorities blithely ignored the scandal of the torture of passive protestors, other nations were taking notice. It is important to note that American efforts to secure human rights abroad were significantly hampered by the obvious (and well-publicized) hypocrisy of American police torturing their own political prisoners.

In an April 1990 statement, Armando Valladares, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said that "It is not the American way to inflict pain upon peaceful people who are merely exercising their right to civil disobedience as a means to send a message to government and/or society, or to effect changes in the law. When state actions such as these occur abroad, we have no difficulty in condemning them. News of this persecution and discrimination has spread throughout Central and South America, Europe and Africa, and it does not present a favorable image of the United States. These attacks are reminiscent of those made against an earlier generation, another non-violent civil rights movement, under similar circumstances during the 60s. At that time, 6,000 citizens were arrested and the President and Attorney General brought police brutality and the official complicity therein to a halt. Similar action is needed today."[14]

The Los Angeles Experience.

To announce truths, to propose something useful to mankind, is an infallible recipe for being persecuted.


The LAPD at Work: Introduction.

It is interesting to observe and compare the reactions of various Neoliberal groups to the violent abuse of two separate groups, one of which is "Politically Correct," and one which is not.

A comparison of the wide range of reactions of the Los Angeles power structure to police brutality directed towards two different entities is particularly fascinating and revealing.

First: The Rescuers.

On March 25, 1989, hundreds of pro-lifers staged a series of massive rescue missions at Los Angeles area abortuaries.

The Los Angeles Police Department was exceptionally brutal when arresting these non-violent, non-resisting protestors. One wave of police (who had removed their nametags and badges to hinder positive identification) would move in and savagely beat rescuers, and then a second wave would go in and make arrests.

The pro-lifers were tightly bound and lifted by police who jammed their fingers up the rescuer's nostrils and into their eye sockets. Rescuers were dragged by their hair and ears, and mounted police horses "accidentally" and repeatedly stepped on them. Police stood on rescuer's backs and repeatedly slammed their faces into the concrete pavement.[15]

A total of six hundred injuries including seven broken bones were reported out of a total of 1,100 arrests in two days.

When the Los Angeles police removed the rescuers to the booking areas, they sexually molested pro-life women and strip-searched them in a mocking, exaggerated, and sexually explicit manner.

The reaction of the city power structure to this massive brutality and abuse was deafening silence. The Mayor's office did not say a word. The American Civil Liberties Union was utterly silent. Congress turned its collective back.

When the Civil Rights Commission considered investigating police and pro-abortion violence against pro-lifers, Congressman Don Edwards (D.-Ca.) threatened to defund the Commission entirely.[16]

Next: The Black Man.

On March 3, 1991, several Los Angeles police stopped Rodney King, a Black man, for speeding. They then beat him with nightsticks. Unfortunately for the police, a man with a camcorder taped the entire incident.

The reaction by the Los Angeles power structure to this incident was immediate and forceful, because the Black man was a member of a "victim class," whereas the pro-lifers were not.

Ten United States Congressmen denounced the police violence and demanded an in-depth investigation, citing a long list of violent incidents involving LA police but significantly not mentioning the brutality inflicted on the pro-life rescuers just two years before. These congressmen labeled it "... the most heinous, vicious, brutal police brutality case that has been recorded for all time."[17]

FBI Director William S. Sessions promised an "in-depth investigation." Congressman Don Edwards, head of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, scheduled extensive hearings within one week of the incident.

Remember that Edwards was the same man who had threatened to defund the Civil Rights Commission for scheduling hearings on the same kind of violence directed against pro-lifers.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had been utterly silent when pro-lifers asked them for help two years previously, paid $35,000 for a full-page ad in the March 12 Los Angeles Times showing a cop wielding a baton with the headline, "WHO DO YOU CALL WHEN THE GANG WEARS BLUE UNIFORMS?" The ad demanded the immediate resignation of Police Chief Daryl Gates, and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley echoed this demand.

For three months after Rodney King was beat up, the incident received enduring attention in the national media. However, of more than 500 major articles written on brutality committed by the Los Angeles Police, more than 99 percent mentioned the King incident and less than one-half of one percent mentioned the brutality directed against pro-lifers.

On Heeding the Law.

We always obeyed the law. Isn't that what you do in America? Even if you don't agree with a law personally, you still obey it. Otherwise, life would be chaos.

Gertrude Scholtz-Klink, Chief of the Women's Bureau under Reichsfuhrer Adolf Hitler.[18]

Pro-Abortion Hypocrisy.

In the earlier days of the rescue movement, pro-abortionists would taunt pro-lifers about their tactics. The National Abortion Rights Action League even went so far as to instruct its debaters to challenge pro-lifers to break the law (see the introductory quote for this chapter).

Then, when pro-lifers took this challenge and began to rescue, the very same pro-aborts sniveled loudly about the "total lawlessness of Operation Rescue." And they simultaneously stated that they would use the same tactics to preserve abortion 'rights.'

In a January 1989 televised debate, Pat Mahoney, director of Rescue South Florida, asked Joyce Tarnauer, administrator of the All Women's Clinic, an abortuary in Oakland Park, Florida, if she would advocate the use of civil disobedience by pro-abortion groups. She replied with a resounding "YES!"[19]

In fact, the pro-aborts are aping OR tactics by blocking churches where rescue rallies take place, in attempts to bottle up the pro-lifers. In one frightening incident that occurred in March of 1989, three pro-aborts detonated an incendiary device in the back of one Los Angeles church that was packed with pro-life activists.

Following a Lower Law ...

It is amusing to watch the outraged squawking of pro-abortionists as they condemn rescuers for 'following a higher moral law,' when, incredibly, anti-life "clergymen" have used the same argument to justify baby-killing!

In the early days of the abortion movement, radical pro-abort 'clergy' set up an blatantly illegal 'underground' system for getting abortions. Howard Moody, one of the leaders of this so-called "Clergy Consultation Service," stated that "We never assume or admit that we were breaking the law. At all times, we were to behave as though we were acting within the laws of New York State and that, as clergy, we were bound to follow a higher moral law."[20]

It truly stretches the imagination to the breaking point that some so-called 'clergy' could justify slaughter and genocide with 'a higher moral law,' but not the rescue of babies slated to die!

Perhaps we could call these alleged 'clergymen' "Children of a Looser God."

For more information on the extensive illegal and violent activities that pro-abortionists have committed in the past and are committing presently, see Chapters 18 and 19 of Volume I, "Pro-Abortion Illegal Activities" and "Pro-Abortion Violence."

Scripture on Civil Disobedience.

We all have a common humanity and you all would do that [violate the Fugitive Slave Act]; your manhood would require it; and no matter what the laws might be, you would honor yourself for doing it, while your friends and your children to all generations would honor you for doing it, and every good and honest man would say that you have done right!

Charles H. Langston, while on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act.[21]

Although no such thing as a "rescue mission" was imagined by the authors of the books of the Bible (nor, presumably, were abortion mills), our generally-stated duty as Christians is crystal-clear. We are commanded to aid those in need. We are commanded to rescue those being dragged to their deaths. And we will be held accountable, not only for every idle word uttered, but for every idle silence or inaction:

Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless.

                                                                                                           Proverbs 31:8.

He who shuts his ears to the cry of the helpless will himself cry for help and not be heard.

                                                               Proverbs 21:13.

To him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin.

                                                                                                           James 4:17.

Inasmuch as ye have not done it even to the least of these ye have not done it to Me.

                                                                                                     Matthew 25:40,45.

Rescue those being dragged to the slaughter, Hold back those staggering to their execution.

                                                                                                           Proverbs 24:11.

Obey God's laws rather than man's laws.

                                                                                                                 Acts 5:29.

Our literal responsibility is even more clearly outlined in Shabbat 546 of The Talmud; "He who has the power to protest a wrong and does not do so is guilty of the wrong committed."

There are numerous instances in the Bible of believers choosing God's law over man's law (Acts 5:29), and being blessed for it;

• In Exodus 1:17, the King of Egypt ordered the Hebrew midwives, including Shiprah, to kill all of the kingdom's newborn boys. Shiprah and the midwives refused, and God blessed them.

• In Joshua 2:1-11, the King of Jericho ordered the harlot Rahab to yield up two spies to his soldiers. She refused, and God blessed her. This incident has become known as "Rahab's Lie."

• In 1 Samuel 19:1-2, Saul told his son Jonathan and his servants to kill David. Jonathan disobeyed and warned David instead, and God blessed him.

• In Daniel 3:1-18, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded three young men to bow down to a golden statue of him. The men refused and were thrown into a fiery furnace. God blessed them, and they emerged unscathed.

• In Daniel 6:1-23, King Darius signed an edict commanding that all of his subjects should worship no god or man except for him. Daniel continued to pray to the one true God. God blessed him, and all of his accusers were thrown into the pit.

• In Acts 5:40-42, the Pharisee Gamaliel induced the Sanhedrin to command the Apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus. They continued to preach in His name, and Christianity flourished.

• In Acts 12:1-19, after Herod imprisoned him during the days of Unleavened Bread, the Apostle Peter illegally broke out of jail.

Church Positions on Civil Disobedience.

To think contrary to one's era is heroism. But to speak against it is madness.

                                                           Romanian-born playwright Eugene Ionesco.[6]

Protestant Churches.

The Protestant churches have varying positions regarding civil disobedience.

On the one hand, there are the Bible-believing churches and preachers, such as Dr. D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others, who believe that Christians are not really citizens of this world, but are instead going about the business of preparing for the next world.

Many of these fundamentalist and evangelical leaders, including those mentioned above, have endorsed rescuing as an appropriate response to child killing.

Many other churches condemn rescues in very strong terms. These are typically pro-abortion churches that have turned away from the Bible, and preach instead a kind of 'feel-good gospel,' whose primary purpose is to keep people mollified and comfortable. These churches are usually pro-homosexual and pro-civil disobedience, as long as such disobedience is aimed towards socially-acceptable targets such as homophobes, 'environmental rapists,' misogynists, or U.S. interventionists in Central America.

For a fuller explanation of church positions on abortion, see Chapter 42, "Church Positions on Abortion." The churches that are openly pro-life usually support rescues, or, at the very least, refuse to condemn them. The churches that have proclaimed themselves to be anti-life generally condemn rescues vigorously.

The Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church has long recognized the place of non-violent resistance in society and the positive changes that it can bring about. When asked to bless the first clinic rescue in Great Britain in March 1986, Pope John Paul II replied, "In these matters, I take Mahatma Gandhi as my mentor."[22]

Figure 81-2 includes passages from some of the statements of the Vatican and United States Bishops of the last century regarding civil disobedience. These might be useful for convincing a fence-sitting Catholic priest that such actions are not in contravention to a good Catholic conscience.


The one only reason which men have for not obeying is when anything is demanded of them (by the state) which is openly repugnant to the natural or divine law, for it is equally unlawful to command anyone to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, therefore, it should happen to any one to be compelled to prefer one or the other, viz., to disregard either the commands of God or those of rulers, he must obey Jesus Christ, who commands us to 'give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Matt. 22:21), and must reply courageously after the example of Apostles: 'We ought to obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29). And yet there is no reason why those who so behave themselves should be accused od refusing obedience; for, if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null.

                                                  Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Diuturnum (June 29, 1881).

... The Council wishes to remind men that the natural law of peoples and its universal principles still retain their binding force. The conscience of mankind firmly and ever more emphatically proclaims these principles. Any action which deliberately violates these principles and any order which commands such actions (genocide, attacks on the innocent, or terrorism) is criminal, and blind obedience cannot excuse those who carry them out.

                                       Vatican Council II, Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 79 (1965).

As the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.

                                                           Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum Progressio.

It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law that is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity [lawfulness] of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application.

                                             Pope Paul VI, Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974).

Consistent with our nation's legal tradition, we hold that all human laws must ultimately be measured against the natural law engraved in our hearts by the Creator. A human law or policy contrary to this higher law, especially one which ignores or violates fundamental rights, surrenders its claim to the respect and obedience of citizens, while in no way lessening their obligation to uphold the moral law.

United States bishops, in their 1985 Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities.

Some sins constitute a direct attack on one's neighbor, and more exactly, in the language of the Gospel, against one's brother or sister. These sins are usually called social sins. The term social applies to every sin against justice in interpersonal relationships, committed either by the individual against the community or by the community against the individual. Also social is every sin against the rights of the human person, beginning with the right to life and including the life of the unborn ... It is not just those who cause or support evil or who exploit it, but also those who are in a position to avoid, eliminate, or at least limit certain social evil but who fail to do so out of laziness, fear, or the conspiracy of silence, through secret complicity or indifference; of those who take refuge in the supposed impossibility of changing the world, and also of those who sidestep the efforts and sacrifices required, producing specious [false] reasons of a higher order.

Pope John Paul II, Pastoral Letter on Reconciliation and Penance.

A movement of passive resistance to the legitimation of practices contrary to human life and dignity is beginning to make an ever sharper impression upon the moral conscience of many. Conscientious objection to laws destructive to human life should be recognized and supported.

                                                   Vatican's 1986 statement The Dignity of Procreation.

In these matters, I take Mahatma Gandhi as my mentor.

Pope John Paul II replying to a request to bless the first clinic rescue in Great Britain in March of 1986. Quoted in Vincent Fitzpatrick's letter entitled "Cops and Conscience," Fidelity Magazine, October 1987, page 3.

'Defenses' Against Rescues.

Don't try to understand 'em, just round 'em up and brand 'em.

                                                            San Diego police, while torturing rescuers.[23]

Futile Efforts.

The pro-abortionists are really up in arms about Operation Rescue, and it shows! They waste countless hours plotting and planning about how they are going to defend against rescues, but they seem to be totally ignorant of the paramount consideration: They are, by their very nature, on the defensive. Their clinics are stationary 'targets.' There is no way they can adequately defend against a large rescue, even if they know all of the details ahead of time.

The frustrated pro-abort's best efforts seem to lie, as usual, in their comical slogans and the names they call rescues, such as "Operation Oppress-You" and "Operation Reschedule."

Obviously, there is nothing that the pro-aborts can physically do on a regular basis to keep clinics open. If escorts crowd the doors, they are merely 'cemented' into the rescue, and aid in keeping the clinic shut down.

Lying About Closed Clinics.

Therefore, the major pro-abort 'defense' has to come through propaganda and the media, both conventional and indigenous. For example, two 1988 memorandums sent to abortion mills by the National Abortion Federation Public Affairs Director, Alice L. Kirkman, instructed the clinics to lie to the press in order to give the impression that Operation Rescue was not affecting their baby-killing. The memos were masterpieces of Newspeak;

Our media strategy is to project ourselves and our patients in the most positive way. Hence, we named our coalition of abortion providers the "Coalition to Protect Health Care" ... We salute the courage and bravery of women patients who endure this type of harassment and invasion of privacy ... Actually the experience has brought us more support than ever. These [rescuers] are bullies, who try to terrorize women patients. They seek coercion: they force others to bear children ... clinics should stay open for deterrence reasons ... to promulgate the appearance of being open during such anti-abortion campaigns.[24]

Of course, veterans of pro-life rescues are familiar with the standard lies spouted by clinic personnel. The primary lie is that no women were turned away during the rescue, and that all appointments for abortions were kept. In many cases, female OR members have made appointments to insure that the clinic is open, or to gain access for rescue, 'truth team,' or 'inside counseling' purposes. Obviously, these women do not get abortions, and so, just as obviously, the pro-aborts are lying.

Pro-lifers should emphasize this fact to the local media.

The 'Defense' Turns Violent.

Since pro-abortionists are by their nature violent, they will tolerate absolutely no interference with their precious 'right' to kill others. Therefore, lesser violence in the form of physical and verbal abuse comes naturally to them.

It is very interesting to read a typical pro-abortion clinic tactics manual (obtained during depositions for a lawsuit) to see how escorts are encouraged to physically assault rescuers and "bully" picketers off the public sidewalks.

The following passage is an excerpt from the clinic defense manual prepared by the Bay Area Coalition Against Operation Rescue (BACAOR, pronounced bay-con-heds).


Our best work is done before police arrive, or when there are not enough police there to prevent us from doing what we have to do. Get in place before cops can mess with it [our defense]; establish balance of power early, do key acts requiring physical contact with OR as much as possible before cops have enough people to intervene ... Make cops realize that they must figure into their plans the independent power of the clinic defense presence; clinic defenders can act in ways police are not fully ready to deal with.

As OR has shifted to picketing more than blockading, we've learned that we can't relax and let them "just" picket. It's critical to keep pushing, to not lend any legitimacy to their harassment of women on any level. As much as we can, we are drawing lines, saying no, you can not picket on the sidewalk in front of the clinic; this is our territory. Go across the street, go away, go wherever but as far away from the clients as is possible to assert. Even if the sidewalk is "public," we've had success at putting enough of us out, early enough, to basically bully the OR's into staying across the street.

Isolate and humiliate. It is critical to separate in some way the resident OR leader or troublemakers. We assign them a particular escort and do our best to isolate them from the others by getting them to lose their cool, look foolish, argue with us, etc. Although in general sexual jokes or extreme harassment are not useful with the OR picketers, if baiting an OR about his treatment of women, his sexuality, and how many times he masturbates will keep him from bothering clients and from being able to effectively direct the others, do it. Remember, we are under no obligation to be polite to these people ... They have already broken Miss Manners code by being at the clinic at all ... Confining our behavior toward OR to the legal realm has distinct limitations.[25]

Notice that BACAOR refuses to even allow pro-lifers to peacefully picket their abortion mills.

BACAOR certainly does try to humiliate pro-lifers, but they and other pro-abort groups only succeed in making themselves look like the gross anti-religious bigots they really are. Their picket signs and chants spew hatred and vitriol, especially against Catholics;[26]


This type of violent pro-abort activity is spreading as copycat organizations spring up, including BACAOR South, SACAOR (Sacramento), and YACAOR (the Youth Action Committee).

Remember that these are the same people who decry alleged pro-life violence and say that they are only "trying to balance the rights of the clinics and the protestors."

Rescue Organizations.

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.


Operation Rescue.

There are now numerous local Operation Rescue chapters. If you want information on rescues, call any pro-life group and ask if there is an active OR chapter in your area.

Rachel's Rescues.

Rachel's Rescues is a rescue organization staffed by women who have suffered abortions. A quarterly newsletter is available. The name of the organization is taken from Scriptural references to Herod's attacks on infant children; "A voice is heard in Ramah lamenting and weeping bitterly, it is Rachel weeping for her children, for they are no more (Jeremiah 31:15-17).

For information on Rachel's Rescues, contact

Human Life International 
7845-E Airpark Road 
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879
Telephone: (301) 670-7884.

Victim Souls for the Unborn Christ Child.

The Victim Souls, commonly known as the "Lambs," was founded by Father Norman Weslin, who was beaten and kicked by police while in confinement and put in solitary for celebrating Mass after a 1988 Atlanta rescue. The purpose of the group is to provide a 'quick reaction force' of rescuers to do "John and Jane Doe" rescues in areas where the legal system has tried to crush resistance by being brutal to previous rescuers. There are three tiers of "Lambs," those who perform rescue work full-time, those who go on short-term missions, and those who support the Lambs through prayer and contributions.

For information on the Lambs, contact

Post Office Box 757
Bowie, Maryland 20715.

Rescue Outreach.

Rescue Outreach was founded by Joan Andrews in 1989, and is the first international rescue organization, whose purpose is to instruct and organize rescue cadres in other countries, including France, England, Spain, Portugal, and Latin American countries.

For more information on Rescue Outreach, contact

Post Office Box 171
Asbury, New Jersey 08802-0171
Telephone: (201) 479-6194.

Life Civil Liberties Union Defense Fund.

The Life Civil Liberties Union Defense Fund is a legal fund for pro-lifers jailed or fined for rescues. Contact

Post Office Box 1423
Novato, California 94948
Telephone: (415) 898-1051.

Rescue Newsletters.

The Life Advocate.

Published by Advocates for Life Ministries, this is perhaps the best overall rescue newsletter being produced today. The glossy 16-page format covers pertinent rescue news all over the country.

For subscriptions to The Life Advocate, contact

Advocates for Life Ministries
Post Office Box 13656
Portland, Oregon 97213
Telephone: (503) 257-7023.

The Rescuer.

Contact Defenders of Life,

Post Office Box 320
Drexel, Pennsylvania 19026.

Defenders of Life publishes six issues per year.

Rescue Newsbrief.

Contact Operation Rescue,

Post Office Box 1180
Binghampton, New York 13902.

Pro-Life Action News.

Contact Pro-Life Action Ministries, Inc. (formerly PEACE of Minnesota),

1163 Payne Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
Telephone: (612) 771-1500.

References: Rescue Missions.

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think is right.

Henry David Thoreau, Essay On Civil Disobedience (1866).

[1] Vicki Z. Kaplan. Organizing for Action. National Abortion Rights Action League, 1974, page 32.

[2] Letter from Mary Ann Kuharshi entitled "Delicate Coercion." Fidelity Magazine, October 1987, pages 6 and 7.

[3] Retired Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, in speech while accepting an award from the Individual Rights Section of the American Bar Association. Quoted in Julianne Malveaux. "'Big Tent' Appearances Within GOP Deceiving." The Oregonian, August 26, 1992, page B5.

[4] "19 Protestors Halted." The Oregonian. Wednesday, December 19, page A17.

[5] National Catholic Register, June 4, 1989, page 7.

[6] Quotes are from Jonathon Green. The Cynic's Lexicon. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1984, 220 pages.

[7] Martin Luther, in his 1552 work On Secular Authority, quoted in footnote 12 to Thomas Molnar. "A New Trial for Luther?" Fidelity Magazine, October 1985, page 27.

[8] Gary Potter. "Intra Urbem Extraque: Brutality in Pittsburgh." The Wanderer, April 6, 1989, page 10.

[9] The Wanderer, August 3, 1987, page 8. For more information on the sadistic West Hartford police department, see Nat Hentoff. "The Torture Police." The Village Voice, September 19, 1989, page 24. Also: John Leo. "The Abortion Protestors and the Police." U.S. News and World Report, August 6, 1990, page 13.

[10] Gary Potter. "At West Hartford Rescue, Police Outdo Own Vicious Record." The Wanderer, July 6, 1989, page 1.

[11] Henry V. King. "Mayor, Town Council Defend West Hartford Police." The Wanderer, July 27, 1989, page 1.

[12] Larry Copeland. "Mayor Keeps Silent as '60s Activists Compare Protests." The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 6, 1988, page 5B.

[13] Monica M. Migliorino. "Report From Rat's Alley: Down and Out With the Unborn in Chicago and Milwaukee." Fidelity Magazine, July/August 1987, page 43.

[14] Armando Valladares, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, quoted in Voices for the Unborn (Feasterville, Pennsylvania), December 1990.

[15] Stanley Interrante. "In Southern California, Operation Rescue Marked By Massive Arrests and Police Brutality." The Wanderer, April 13, 1989, pages 1 and 8.

[16] Free Congress Foundation, Family, Law and Democracy Report, November 1989, page 11.

[17] Patricia Edmonds, Knight-Ridder News Service. "Members of Congress Want Federal Probe of LA Police Brutality." The Oregonian, March 13, 1991, page A13.

[18] Gertrude Scholtz-Klink, Chief of the Women's Bureau under Reichsfuhrer Adolf Hitler. Quoted in Claudia Koonz. Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987, page xxviii.

[19] "Florida Rescue Group Refuses to Pay Police Costs After Rescue in Which 100 Are Arrested." ALL News, February 10, 1989, pages 1 to 3.

[20] Colin Francome. Abortion Freedom: A Worldwide Movement. London: George Allen & Unwin. 1984, 241 pages. Quote on page 110. Although written from the pro-abortion viewpoint, this book contains much valuable information regarding the basic philosophy and strategy of the worldwide pro-abortion movement. Additionally, the Appendix of Robin Morgan's Neofeminist anthology Sisterhood is Powerful describes and recommends the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion.

[21] Charles H. Langston, while on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. He was convicted in 1859 in a United States District Court in Ohio for harboring escaped slave John Price. His pre-sentencing speech is in the trial record and is also recorded in George Finkelman (editor), Slavery, Race, and the American Legal System 1700-1872. 1988, Volume 4, pages 11, 17 and 18.

[22] Letter from Vincent Fitzpatrick entitled "Cops and Conscience." Fidelity Magazine, October 1987, page 3.

[23] Nat Hentoff. "The Dread Nunchakus." The Village Voice, November 7, 1989, page 34.

[24] "Abortionists Choose Media Words Carefully." American Family Association Journal, April 1989, page 19.

[25] Bay Area Coalition Against Operation Rescue (BACAOR). "Clinic Defense: A Model." March 1989, pages 13, 17, 18, 19, and 30.

[26] Rick Szykowny. "Life During Wartime." The Humanist, July/August 1992, pages 9 to 34 and 44. A very lengthy and detailed article about Operation Rescue's siege of Buffalo in April and May of 1992, seen from the Humanist, pro-abortion standpoint. This article, written by that extreme rarity a pro-abort with a vestigal sense of humor makes fascinating reading.

Further Reading: Rescue Missions.

ALL About Issues. 
This is a glossy, 60-page monthly pro-life newspaper published by Judie Brown's American Life Lobby. It is an excellent compendium of news briefs on pro-life activities (mainly pickets and rescues) all over the country, and includes brief commentaries on various subjects, including ALL's favorite target, Planned Parenthood. For information, write to James F. Kappus, Editor, Post Office Box 1350, Stafford, Virginia, 22554. Telephone: (703) 659-4171.

American Civil Liberties Union. Defending the Right to Choose
This 65-page booklet, published by the fanatically pro-abortion ACLU, is essential for any pro-life organizer's library. It describes in detail the tactics that pro-aborts and clinics may use to defend against picketing and rescue missions, and also describes the limits of the rights of protesters. It is, in fact, a blueprint for pro-abortion defensive strategy. If you obtain only one book on street activism, this must be the one, because by knowing your enemy's tactics and strategy, you can avoid being taken by surprise, and you can better plan your own activities. You can pick up a copy from your local ACLU office.

Joan Andrews. You Reject Them, You Reject Me
223 pages. Order from Our Lady's Book Service, Nazareth Homestead, R.D. 1, Box 258, Constable, New York 12926, telephone: 1-800-263-8160. Joan Andrews, one of the leaders of the Rescue movement, spent nearly three years in prison (mostly in solitary confinement) for the 'crime' of damaging an abortion suction machine. This book is an autobiography and a chronicle of the Rescue movement and its motivations, written in the form of letters from prison.

John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe. No Cheap Solutions
Paperback. Order from: Life Issues Bookshelf, Sun Life, Thaxton, Virginia 24174, telephone: (703) 586-4898. Shows how non-violent direct action (rescues, picketing, and sidewalk counseling) fulfills the command given us by God in Proverbs 24:11-12 ("Rescue those being dragged to the slaughter").

John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe. "Non-Violence is an Adverb." 
Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project, Post Office Box 2193, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20879. This pamphlet explains in detail why it is insufficient for concerned pro-lifers to just write letters and sit home and pray.

Lester Cooper. Where Are Today's Daniels?
True Books, Post Office Box 2172, Carlsbad, California 92008. 1987, 115 pages. This book addresses the differences between Christian and secular governments, Christian's rights and responsibilities in today's governments, especially with regard to God's authority vs. civil authority, and as it pertains to civil disobedience. Must Christians always obey civil government? The author says that we must not obey a civil law if it is in conflict with God's law.

Philip F. Lawler. Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience
Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, Indiana 46750. 1992, 153 pages. A general description of the origins of the rescue movement, profiles of national rescues and leaders, and the blind spots that the national media and the justice movement have towards pro-life rescuers.

Gary North. Trespassing for Dear Life: What is Operation Rescue Up To?
Dominion Press, Post Office Box 8204, Fort Worth, Texas 76124. 40 pages.

Anne Packer. A Matter of Conscience
177 pages. Order from Our Lady's Book Service, Nazareth Homestead, R.D. 1, Box 258, Constable, New York 12926, telephone: 1-800-263-8160. The story of David Packer, a Toronto police officer who refused orders to guard Henry Morgentaler's illegal abortion clinic, and was fired for his courageous stand for life and the law.

Project Life. 
"Higher Laws" is a film that examines the Biblical basis for non-violent direct action, including rescue missions and picketing. It is available from Project Life, Post Office Box 1180, Binghampton, New York, 13902. This film, which features Randy Terry and other leaders of the Operation Rescue movement, is available in Beta or VHS format. A donation is suggested.

The Rescuer. 
This excellent bimonthly newsletter follows the strategy and philosophy of the American rescue movement. Subscribe by writing to Defenders of Life, Post Office Box 320, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, 19026.

Randall A. Terry. Accessory to Murder
Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers 1749 Mallory Lane, Suite 110, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027. 1990, 281 pages. Reviewed by Cathy Ramey on page 44 of the August-September 1991 issue of ALL About Issues. Randy Terry describes the mission of the pro-life movement and condemns complicity by the churches. The book describes the role of Planned Parenthood, NOW, NARAL, the ACLU, NAF, the AMA, and other organizations in the abortion holocaust. Then it details the roles that the media, the courts, and the 'justice' system play. Finally, it covers the ways in which the church is an accomplice in the killing and details how Christians can get involved in an effective manner.

Randall A. Terry. Accessory to Murder
Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, 1990, 281 pages. Reviewed by Cathy Ramey on page 44 of the August-September 1991 issue of ALL About Issues. Randy Terry describes the mission of the pro-life movement and condemns complicity by the churches.

Randall Terry. Operation Rescue
Whitaker House, 1988. 277 pages. This book, written by the founder of Operation Rescue, describes the history and philosophy of the organization that essentially restarted and revitalized the Rescue Movement in the United States today.

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.