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Operation Rescue is an extremist right-wing anti-abortion group with a history of advocating, encouraging, and in particular cases even employing aggressive and outright violent tactics to combat abortion. The group was once known as Operation Rescue West, it originated in California as part of the original Operation Rescue (formally Operation Rescue National, now named Operation Save America since 1999), but moved to Kansas in 2002 to focus attention on one of two prominent doctors who performed late-term abortions, Dr. George Tiller.[note 1]
Formally, the organization believes in legal tactics that are designed to embarrass women who go into clinics, frighten them, and provide an overall harassment to the business of the clinic. These are all legal actions, if done within certain parameters. Informally, however, the group and its members have been associated with violence; for example, their senior policy director, Cheryl Sullenger, was at one point convicted of conspiracy to bomb a California clinic.
Operation Save America, the original parent group, has branched out into other areas of far-right politics, although anti-abortion activities are still a high priority.
In 1998, the Supreme Court granted an injunction against Randall Terry and Operation Rescue under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Randall Terry, personally, and Operation Rescue were held liable for monetary damages done to clinics.
In April 2009, Operation Rescue moved into the headlines again when they protested the President's speech at Notre Dame.
Operation Rescue's founder, Randall Terry, is not one to mince words about his views on abortion, abortion doctors, God, and the nation at large:
According to a February 12, 2000, Washington Post report, Terry was censured by his church, the Landmark Church of Binghamton, New York, for a "pattern of repeated and sinful relationships and conversations with both single and married women." Terry denied the accusation.
Murder of Dr. George Tiller
Several connections have been made between Operation Rescue leadership and violent anti-abortion activities such as bombings and assassinations. In June of 2009, Operation Rescue was linked to the May 31 assassination of Dr. George Tiller, when the killer, Scott Roeder, was found to have contact information for Cheryl Sullenger, an Operation Rescue senior policy adviser, in his possession. Sullenger, who was convicted of planning to bomb an abortion clinic in California in 1988, admitted that she had spoken with Roeder on several occasions, helping him track Tiller's court hearings with dates, times and locations. Operation Rescue had long been a vocal critic of Tiller, running several large scale public relations campaigns to attempt the termination of his medical career, and even to have charges brought against him.
Terry held a press conference after the shooting in which he stated that Tiller "got what was coming to him":
A person posting on Operation Rescue's website using the name Scott Roeder, had expressed interest in becoming involved with Operation Rescue and had posted comments about bringing Tiller to justice. The person also posted information about gaining access to Tiller's church, which was the eventual location of the assassination:
“”Bleass [sic] everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp. Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn't seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.
- A study of the rhetoric of Operation Rescue, explaining their biblical assumptions, how they use the Bible to their benefit, and how they use non-specific rhetoric to warrant violent ends.
- The other doctor is Dr. Warren Hern, from Boulder, Colorado. Due to his location in a fairly liberal area, Dr. Hern rarely sees protests, though he does have bulletproof windows in his offices.
- OperationRescue — Montana Human Rights Network
- Phone number found inside car of man suspected of killing George Tiller belongs to woman who plotted 1988 clinic bombing
- Operation Rescue adviser helped Tiller suspect track doctor's court dates
- Archive of an Operation Rescue website that was taken down after Tiller was murdered
- Randall Terry: George Tiller Reaped What He Sowed… Now Let's Go Have Some Hot Wings And Beer
- Cache of Operation Rescue' forum
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