Anti-abortion extremist group Operation Save America has organized back-to-back demonstrations in Wichita this week commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Summer of Mercy—a 1991 six-week mass protest led by Operation Rescue in which protestors blockaded a clinic run by Dr. George Tiller. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has launched a multi-platform campaign pushing back against the influx of anti-abortion groups coming to Wichita.
FMF is encouraging activists to sign on to a petition demanding that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback denounce the groups and protect the clinic, which was opened in the same space as Tiller’s former clinic by his mentee Julie Burkhart and is one of the clinics targeted by this week’s demonstrations. They’ve also launched an interactive ad campaign in the Wichita Eagle to mobilize city residents and educate them about OSA’s extremist tactics.
Operation Rescue’s national headquarters moved to Wichita in 2002 and led a seven-year campaign to harass and target Tiller and his staff. In May 2009, Scott Roeder, who frequently participated in Operation Rescue protests, shot and killed him in church. The focal point of anti-abortion extremist groups’ tactics this year is the Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center, now one of only two abortion clinics in Wichita.
“Wichita residents deserve the facts about who is coming in to their town this summer,” said FMF President Eleanor Smeal. “Some of these extremists embrace the use of force, advocate the killing of clinic works and doctors who provide abortions and want abortion providers and women who have abortions penalized like murderers. We encourage residents of Wichita to take action by calling on Gov. Brownback to denounce the dangerous and inflammatory tactics of anti-abortion extremists.”
FMF’s National Clinic Access Project, which was launched in 1989, leads efforts nationwide to reduce anti-abortion violence, to keep women’s health personnel and patients safe, to keep clinics open and to bring violent anti-abortion extremists to justice. Its 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey shows that 51.9 percent of abortion clinics experienced threats and targeted intimidation and one in five women’s health clinics experienced severe anti-abortion violence.