A determining focal point in the battle for abortion rights and the lives of women begins July 31 in Germantown MD. One of the most courageous and prominent abortion providers in the country is being targeted by one of the most hateful, fascistic, anti-woman groups in the country. Anyone who cares about the future for women needs to be there or find a way to support those who will be.
Dr. LeRoy Carhart is a hero. He provides abortions. As simple as that may sound – and as simple as that ought to be – this means that every day for more than two decades he has risked his life for the lives of women. He’s been threatened. He’s been stalked. His family has been harassed – even receiving calls “informing” them of his murder. Once, his farm was burned to the ground.
But that is not all.
Two years ago Dr. George Tiller, a fellow abortion provider, colleague and good friend of Dr. Carhart’s, was assassinated while attending church. In the face of this devastating loss, LeRoy Carhart stepped up even more. He expanded his practice. He opened new clinics. He spoke boldly to the national media. He not only performs, but has taken responsibility for training others in performing, some of the most complex and life-saving abortion procedures for women late into troubled pregnancies.
For all this, he has been targeted as “Enemy # 1″ by the very forces responsible for Dr. Tiller’s death. From July 31st through August 7th, Operation Rescue will be bringing anti-abortion fanatics from across the country to hound and endanger Dr. Carhart, his staff, and the women he serves.
Operation Rescue is an organization of woman-hating, evolution-denying, theocratic, Christian fascists. They oppose all abortions. As in: even in cases of rape, incest or the life of the woman. They oppose all birth control. As in: they not only oppose pre-marital sex, they also oppose marital sex that is not aimed at procreation. And for more than two decades they have systematically targeted, prosecuted, waged character assassination against, and whipped up an atmosphere that has led to the actual assassination of some of the most selfless and heroic abortion providers in the country.
That’s right. According to the Washington Post, just months before Dr. David Gunn was assassinated by an anti-abortion fanatic, “an old-fashioned ‘wanted’ poster of Gunn was distributed at a rally for Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry” complete with a home phone number and photo of Dr. Gunn. In 1992 Operation Rescue targeted the clinic of Dr. Barnett Slepian. Later, Dr. Slepian was assassinated in his own home by a fanatic who had traveled with Operation Rescue for years. In 1991, Operation Rescue declared a “Summer of Mercy” and brought thousands of anti-abortion fanatics to blockade Dr. Tiller’s clinic, demonize his person, and create an intimidating anti-woman spectacle in the national media for weeks. Just months after Dr. Tiller was assassinated, Operation Rescue began making efforts to purchase his clinic as the site of their new headquarters!
This is the shameful and murderous history that Operation Rescue is invoking as they gear up for their “Summer of Mercy 2.0″ at Dr. Carhart’s new clinic in Germantown, Maryland.
Why do they do all this? Not because they give a rat’s ass about the so-called “life of the fetus.” They do this because they are driven by the biblical mandate that women have babies – lots and lots of babies – and obediently submit to men.
According to the Bible, everything evil that has ever happened is because Eve tempted Adam into eating the “forbidden fruit.” Not only that, there was a “special curse” brought down on women. Here it is in 1 Timothy 2:11-15: “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”
It is this total submission of women to men that Operation Rescue is dead set on. As Dr. Carhart himself pointed out during an interview I conducted with him earlier this year, “Most women today don’t want to be a second class citizen. They want to enjoy all the rights and privileges that the world has to offer. I think the very thrust of the anti-[abortion movement] is to deny women those very rights. Abortion is a vehicle they are using to do much greater damage.”
The only “good” thing that can be said about Operation Rescue is that they clarify the issue. The movement against abortion has never been about anything but forcing women to submit to men and have babies against their will. This is true of the Christian fascists in – or seeking – political office, from Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin to Sam Brownback and Tom Coburn. This is true of those who have introduced the largest onslaught of legislative restrictions on the federal and state level in history over just the past few months – from mandatory ultra-sounds, to requiring women to undergo “counseling” at Christian fundamentalist “clinics,” to imprisoning women whose newborns do not survive! (Yes, you read that right: several states are currently prosecuting women for the natural deaths of their newborn babies.)
And this is a truth that is being lied about or covered over by all those – most significantly prominent Democrats like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but also much of the pro-choice movement leadership – who are refusing to call out this fascist woman-hating for what it is. As the World Can’t Wait so aptly put it several years ago, “This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into ‘leaders’ who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.”
If women are to be free they need the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have children. They need abortion on demand and without apology. They need fully scientific sex-education. They need birth control available without shame or stigma. These things are not “tragic” or “unfortunate.” They are tremendously liberating – and they are long overdue!
All of this is essential not only for women, but for humanity as a whole – for how can anyone be free when half of us are enslaved?
The future of abortion rights, the lives of women and of the safety of heroes like Dr. LeRoy Carhart cannot be left to politicians or law enforcement or “someone out there who isn’t me.” It is time – long past time – for all those to care about women to confront the fact that the future will hinge on what each of us will do.
From July 31st to August 6th World Can’t Wait and others are organizing a Summer of Trust to be a strong abortion rights presence countering Operation Rescue and standing up for the lives of women. I add my voice to theirs in calling on you to BE THERE in the streets to show your support. If you cannot be there, reach deep into your bank account and make a donation to this effort commensurate with your concern for the future.
More information on the Summer of Trust.
Send checks or money orders, payable to “World Can’t Wait” (Summer of Trust in the memo) to:
World Can’t Wait
305 West Broadway #185
New York, NY 10013
Listen to my interview with Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Carole Joffe (author of Dispatches From the Abortion Wars: The Cost of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us), Merle Hoffman (President and Founder of Choices Women’s Medical Center), and Debra Sweet (National Director, World Can’t Wait), here: http://www.equaltimeforfreethought.org/2011/01/22/show-375-the-morality-of-abortion/