Yesterday, my friend Taylor and I trekked up to Bellevue, NE (outside of Omaha) to join almost 200 pro-choicers from around the country (17 states!) to defend Dr. LeRoy Carhart's clinic, the Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska (ACCON).
It was an amazing experience, and I do want to write more about everything that happened, from the insane to the inspiring, but that'll have to wait.
Because Operation Rescue posted a story on their website today, detailing yesterday's events. I'm not entirely sure where they were yesterday, but the events they're reporting on is certainly not the same Operation Rescue-protest / clinic defense that I witnessed/participated in on Saturday the 29th.
Now, it's not that it surprises me that Operation Rescue would lie in their account of what happened; they're notoriously good at stretching the truth and falsifying things and filing false charges. I expected them to try to spin this weekend's events into an OR-sympathetic story.
But the lies in the story are just too egregious to not address.
So, point by point, as thoroughly as I can while maintaining my composure, here's how it really went down.
I don't want to link to them, because I don't want to drive any traffic their way, so instead, I'll do an old-fashioned copy & paste.
Successful Event Exposes Illegal Activity at Cahart’s [sic] Abortion Mill, Saves A Life
* Written by Operation Rescue * Posted August 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm
“Keep it Closed” campaign continues to bear fruit
Bellevue, NE – Amid pro-abortion hysteria and media over-hype, Operation Rescue, Nebraskans United for Life, and Rescue the Heartland conducted two days of peaceful activities in the Omaha Metro area, which successfully drew attention to accusations of illegal activities at LeRoy Carhart’s Bellevue abortion clinic that have been alleged by four of his former employees.
The event was bolstered by an investigative report printed in the Omaha World-Herald on Friday morning that broke the story that the former abortion workers had voluntarily come forward to blow the whistle on Carhart’s illegal practices, which they said included allowing unlicensed staff to perform medical duties, and the existence of filthy conditions, such as dried blood on surgical instruments laid out to be used during abortions.
Those women also contacted Operation Rescue and Rescue the Heartland and are working with the groups to get their information to the appropriate authorities. (Read previous story.)
I don't doubt that these are also fabricated allegations, which is annoying, but the burden of proof is on Newman & his so-called "whistleblowers" to prove these allegations aren't the pile of b.s. I suspect they are.
I can say, however, that Dr. Carhart's clinic is one of the cleanest clinics I've been inside. (Yes, it could use some paint on the outside and some parking lot grooming, but that's not really a top priority for the clinic when they're concerned about their doc getting shot. The inside is very clean and well-kept and welcoming.) You don't have to take it from me; he offered a clinic tour to a local news station, reported (in print) here: Exclusive: Controversial Abortion Clinic Gives Us Tour.
Press conference and a “staggering” list of allegations
The three pro-life groups held a press conference on Friday afternoon and released a list of allegations that one news station called “staggering,” detailing the allegations and the applicable Nebraska Criminal Statutes and Regulations. Because media attendance at the press conference exceeded expectations, the conference had to be moved to a larger space. (“Must see” news report and video.)
Representatives from Operation Rescue and Rescue the Heartland then met with the Bellevue Police Department, which was very cooperative. At Operation Rescue’s request, the police agreed to keep pro-abortion counter-protesters separated from the pro-life groups, because of security concerns on the part of the pro-lifers. Operation Rescue staff members have received dozens of death threats, a concern that was raised with the police.
The orange fence at Dr. Carhart's property line was not erected because of OR's so-called "security concerns." The orange fence was there to delineate the property line in order to better enforce the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) and easily identify violations. Needless to say, the Bellevue PD wasn't so concerned about pro-choice activists violating FACE.
The police agreed to keep an eye on the protests because, well, maybe you forgot, but AN ABORTION PROVIDER WAS KILLED BY A "PRO-LIFER" THREE MONTHS AGO. Not because they were concerned about what we pro-choicers might do.
It drives me crazy that I have to continue to belabor this point, but only one side of this debate has a history of killing people for their beliefs. That's not us. Those are your people, Operation Rescue.
It is true that at first, none of us were to be allowed on clinic property; the clinic had concerns about liability if we were escorting patients or standing at the edge of the property to hold the line. The clinic changed their mind, though, when the date came closer. They didn't want us standing shoulder to shoulder with the antis, people like Jennifer McCoy, a convicted clinic arsonist who has been visiting Scott Roeder in jail.
THAT's why we were separated by the orange fence.
Not because the cops were really on their side and afraid of what we'd do while trying to protect patients and the clinic.
A Vision for Victory
Friday evening about 100 supporters attended a rally at St. Cecelia’s Cathedral where Opertion Rescue President Troy Newman encouraged the Omaha area pro-life community to press on with their already fruitful efforts to save the lives of innocent children from abortion and to make their community abortion free through the use of peaceful, legal means. Newman imparted a well-received vision for victory to the group.
Because making the Wichita community abortion-free, a fact that Troy rejoices quite openly in, happened so peacefully and legally.
Direct quote from Troy as we chanted "Welcome! Welcome! This clinic will stay open!":
"I do love the 'this clinic stays open' signs and chants. Because you know, the last time I heard that was at Dr Tiller's mill. Hahahaha."
The laugh at the end was a full, legit laugh. Not entirely forced, with a hint of joy in it. There may have been malice there, but I was a little too distracted by my disgust in Troy Newman as a person to try to analyze all the components of that creepy laugh.
Much anticipated “protest”
Saturday morning two Truth Trucks joined about fifty pro-lifers outside Carhart’s dilapidated abortion clinic in Bellevue where pro-abortion counter-protesters had been bussed in by national abortion groups. While pro-lifers prayed and sang hymns, abortion supporters chanted “Welcome, welcome. This clinic stays open!” and cheered each time a women entered the clinic to kill her pre-born child.
Nobody was bussed in. There were carpools that came from around the midwest and a few people who flew from far away, but we didn't just grab people off the street and throw them on a bus headed for Nebraska.
Oh, and by the way, Troy? Did you forget that you're not from Nebraska either?
“It’s pretty sick when someone cheers the fact that an innocent child is about to die,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “These people desperately need Jesus to help them rediscover their moral compasses.”
Not that it really needs to be said, but: our cheers were for clinic workers, who we are very thankful for. My moral compass is just fine. Moral compasses that point to harassing abortion providers, their staff, and clinic escorts and defenders? That's one that I'd say needs a little tweaking.
The outreach was never promoted as a large protest by the participating pro-life groups. It was instead an outreach to offer abortion-bound women help, compassion, and practical help, and to be a witness to the community to the devastating effects of abortion.
“Misguided abortion folks seemed to process our peaceful intentions through their hysteria filter and the result was overreaction and amped up rhetoric that completely missed the mark of what was really going on. Even at that, their predicted hundreds of counter-protesters never materialized, while we drew over twice as many people as we predicted on our side,” said Newman.
So the pro-choice movement is taking seriously any well-publicized call for donations and clinic siege / "outreach" from a group that has clear ties to the man who killed Dr. Tiller. That's hysteria?
Well, give me a diagnosis and an old-school electromechanical vibrator and call me hysterical.
At this point, I don't think that any pro-choice reaction to Operation Rescue tactics can be considered an "overreaction."
Your side is killing us, and has been threatening us daily for 36 years.
We're going to take that seriously.
“The news about the clinic workers blowing the whistle on Carhart’s dangerous and illegal abortion business really took the wind out of their sails.”
A baby saved and privacy violated
Carhart did not inform his patients that there would be protesters at his clinic. One woman who had scheduled an abortion was frightened by the pro-abortion protesters who repeatedly screamed and called her name over a bullhorn. A pro-life sidewalk counselor was able to ask the woman and her friend to pull into the crisis pregnancy center across the street from Carhart’s clinic, which they did.
So many blatant lies.
1st, Yes, of course Dr. Carhart informed his patients that Operation Rescue was planning on staging a very visual protest (i.e. Truth Trucks et al) this weekend. He also informed them that there would be clinic defenders.
2nd, We did not call anyone's name over a bullhorn. We didn't even have a bullhorn. One woman did go into the CPC while we were at Dr Carhart's clinic, but I'm willing to bet that this woman was a plant by the antis so they could enhance their media circus with a fake little story and resulting sonogram.
We chanted "Welcome, Welcome, This clinic will stay open." That's it. Other than clinic escorts helping patients from their cars to the door and trying to block their faces from the antis, nobody spoke directly to the patients.
Big fat lie.
The woman received support and counseling from the staff of the pro-life help center and made the decision not to abort her baby. She signed a written release authorizing the distribution of a sonographic image of her pre-born baby to protesters and indicated she was interested in filing a complaint against Carhart’s clinic for violating her right to privacy by making her name available to pro-abortion protesters and others.
“So much for a woman’s right to privacy,” said Newman. “This woman felt violated by the lack of consideration for her privacy on the part of the abortion clinic supporters. In the end, they drove her to us where we were able to get her the help and support she needed to make the decision to keep her child.”
As far as privacy goes, there was one side that was violating privacy. It wasn't us.
The photo on the left is from the Omaha World-Herald story and is of our friend Troy, and I took the photo on the right of another anti-choice videographer that morning.
The OW-H's caption: Counter protesters block the view of Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, as he attempts to take pictures of a vehicle arriving at the clinic, during the protest in front of the Abortion and Contraception Clinic of Nebraska in Bellevue. KENT SIEVERS/THE WORLD-HERALD
Mr Potatohead on the right was also pointing his camera at cars in the parking lot and at the patients as they entered the clinic.
We filmed and photographed the antis. We did not film or photograph patients or their license plates. That's what these guys do.
Blind to the truth
Newman attempted to distribute the sonogram images of the saved baby to abortion supporters, but each time his words seemed to strike a nerve, the pro-aborts began to chant.
“They couldn’t even look at the picture of that precious baby. They simply are blind to the truth. The fact that they can stand in front of that dump of an abortion clinic, which has been accused of committing illegal and unsafe acts that have endangered the lives and safety of women, shows that they are not willing to face reality. The look of the place alone should have scared them away,” said Newman.
“It shows that this blind support for Carhart amongst radical abortion groups is not about what is best for women. It is about perpetuating abortion at any cost, even if it means breaking the law and hurting the women whose so-called rights they pretend to support. If they really cared about women, they would be joining us in calling for the closure of Carhart’s shoddy abortion business.”
Blah blah blah, pro-choicers really hate women (which is why a lot of us also identify as feminists, right?). Blah blah, Troy is the only one who really cares, blah blah blah.
Closed-door training session
After a morning of peaceful outreach at the abortion clinic, Operation Rescue met with local activists at an undisclosed location for a closed-door training session on how to employ the legal tools that are available to close abortion clinics. The session was well attended and received with energy and enthusiasm.
During the training session, police wrongly detained two of Operation Rescue’s Truth Truck drivers in the parking lot of a public school that was closed for the day, where they had parked due to lack of street parking. The pair was threatened with arrest for trespassing on the public property. Several people watching a local air show were also parked in the lot, but they were not detained or threatened with arrest. However, cooler heads soon prevailed, and the drivers were released without being charged and without further incident.
Aww. Cry me a frickin' river.
For one, I don't care what day it is, parking a truck with bloody fake fetuses on it in a SCHOOL parking lot is never ok. It might not be illegal, I'm not sure, but it's certainly inappropriate.
For another, maybe the police just hadn't been able to identify whose car was whose. Fetus trucks & their drivers are pretty easily identifiable and therefore pretty easy to give warnings to.
Success exceeded expectations
“This event was all about two things. First we wanted to expose the criminal and unsafe conditions at Carhart’s abortion clinic, which was done successful beyond expectations,” said Newman. “Secondly, we wanted to identify and train a core group of leaders who could continue to work within the legal system in Nebraska to bring Carhart to justice and see his clinic closed through peaceful, legal means. That goal was accomplished. The pro-life community in Nebraska are amazingly dedicated people who we are proud to work with.
“Then to have a baby saved at our morning outreach in spite of ranting pro-abortions, police SWAT teams, cordoned off streets, and every other impediment, we can confidently say that this was an amazing event that exceeded expectations. God was with us at every turn. We look forward to going back at some future time to continue our efforts.”
Wait. I thought the police were on your side, because they were protecting you from us. Were you afraid of the police in riot gear?
Were you afraid of the bomb-sniffing dogs of SWAT (if they were even officially SWAT)?
There's no reason to fear a bomb-sniffing dog unless you've got something to hide.
Care to share, Operation Rescue?
We were not ranting. We chanted. Know who did rant? The woman who asked Taylor if she had kids, and then when there was no response, if she had an STD. The ex-priest who told us just how badly we were going to burn in hell, called us babykillers and murderers and "the women who kill the babies." The ex-priest who violated FACE by kicking through the fence to knock down one of our signs, kicking me in the process, yelling about how I was "asking for trouble" and "going to rot in hell." (Do you rot if you're burning? If I'm already burning in hell, wouldn't that hold off the rot?) The woman who yelled "mommy, mommy, don't kill me!"
Those people "ranted."
We chanted and did not engage.
We did not harass the anti-choicers.
And as far as "successes" go? Pretty sure we won this round. We outnumbered them at least 3:1. Not an impressive showing on their part, even when they did advertise on the Army of God website.
Thanks for the promise to return to Bellevue, Troy.
Just let us know. We'll be back then, too.