Anti-Abortion Extremists Descend on Orlando, FL and Germantown, MD

Despite a conviction just days ago for criminally stalking a Charlotte, N.C. physician, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America leader Flip Benham and his followers have traveled to Orlando, Fla., this weekend to stage a week-long “siege” of seven Orlando-area abortion clinics. In the past, such events have included targeting abortion providers–and stalking them–at their homes, as well as larger demonstrations designed to harass and intimidate patients and staff at local clinics.

Organizers from the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), Ms.’s publisher, are working with the Orlando clinics, pro-choice supporters and local, state and federal law enforcement to protect the clinics during the siege. According to duVergne Gaines, legal coordinator of the FMF’s National Clinic Access Project,

Flip Benham and his associates are on notice –they can no longer stalk and terrorize women’s health care providers with impunity. We’ll continue to do everything we can to prevent their unlawful conduct, to protect women’s health care providers and to maintain access to safe, legal abortion in Orlando.

Similarly, another anti-abortion extremist group, Operation Rescue of Wichita, plans to lead actions later this month–dubbed “Summer of Mercy 2.0″–against the Germantown Reproductive Health Center in Maryland, where abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart recently expanded his practice. Carhart is a former colleague of murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and a specialist in later-term abortions, which are often due to fetal and maternal complications. The original Summer of Mercy events in 1991 were organized by Operation Rescue against Tiller in Wichita, Kan. Says Gaines,

We are outraged Operation Rescue is using the exact same slogan and the same tactics against Dr. Carhart as they did against Dr. Tiller. They should be ashamed.

Check back here to stay informed about the sieges in Florida and Maryland. You can support the FMF’s National Clinic Access Project here.

Photo of Flip Benham (in red shirt) from Flickr user marklyon under license from Creative Commons 2.0

Comments

  1. Mary Ellen Mayo says:

    just to keep you fully informed RE: Orlando: They also picketed and hollered and played loud music outside of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, at both entrances to campus during Sunday church hours; we got yelled at from the sidewalk when we got out of our cars…… I am a member and was at church. Some of them came in and sat real close to the front, but didn’t cause a disturbance. Orlando does have a city ordinance banning the disruption of church services. There was a plainclothes officer in the service, in case they tried to act up, and officers outside…the minister had to alter the service slightly – the children were taken directly to playground from religious ed so they wouldn’t have to see the protesters on the way over. I would estimate that I was sitting several rows back from 5-6 of the ones who came in. I realized that there were at least three more when they came out after coffee hour and one handed me what turned out to be a religious tract. We got through it okay. Just thought you’d like some more info about what they’re up to from someone in Orlando. Please don’t use my name, you may use my words. I am afraid of these people; they are terrorists. Personally, I have some emotional baggage from being pretty much forced into that type of religious environment growing up, combined with working for 9 years for a local megachurch, where I and other coworkers on the housekeeping staff were quite frankly, treated like shit; so I felt quite a bit of fear and terror and anger this morning when I arrived at my spiritual refuge to be greeted with that by those people. Thank you for covering it…

  2. Is there anything organized for supporting the Germantown Reproductive Health Center? Anything volunteers could do to help?

  3. Activist are planning to oppose “Summer of Mercy 2.0″ activities in Germantown, MD as well. We are organizing under the name Summer of Trust (http://www.summeroftrust.com/) and are working with Summer of Choice (http://summerofchoice.com/), the organizers from Dr. Carhart’s clinic, to build peaceful, prochoice visibility during the planned week of harassment. We hope any and all supporters of abortion right and doctors can make it to Germantown July 31st-August 6th.

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