Anti-Abortion Radicals Coming to Philly

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Mar. 9, 2011

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“Maybe they cleaned up real quick in the wake of Gosnell,” reasoned another pro-life activist after the meeting.

Introduced next were a couple of local women and an out-of-towner named Cheryl Sullenger. “If [Cheryl] was put in charge of finding Osama Bin Laden, he would have been found within a week!” cracked the host.

It was meant as a joke, but the reference is frightening. In 1987 Sullenger pleaded guilty to conspiring to blow up San Diego’s Alvarado Medical Center with a gasoline bomb. Sullenger, who’s Operation Rescue’s senior policy advisor, served two years in federal prison. Her name and phone number was found on Scott Roeder’s dashboard after Tiller’s murder.

James McElroy, a civil-rights attorney who won the judgment against Jeff White, says both Sullenger and Newman had restraining orders filed against them. “Suffice it to say they were in legal trouble most of the time they were in San Diego. They had very little respect for the law,” says McElroy. “Not laws protecting private property or against harassing people or disturbing the peace ... They are not the kind of people you want rolling into town.”

Operation Rescue has denied direct association with Roeder. In the Maddow documentary, footage shows Roeder sitting next to Troy Newman throughout the 2009 trial of Tiller, who was facing charges of performing illegal abortions assembled with the help of Operation Rescue. The jury quickly acquitted.

The women at the meeting discussed the importance of obtaining physicians’ names. They assured potential intelligence-gathering ops that they need not be nervous about lying during the phone calls.

“Once you start, the Holy Spirit will take over,” said a volunteer. “I just spew out words. I don’t even know where they come from!” There’s little logic in the idea that a movement rooted in religious conviction sees an alleged serial baby murderer and drug trafficker as a gift from God. There’s also little logic in attempting to kangaroo-court indict every abortion provider in the state based on one man’s crimes—especially in the face of contradictory empirical data.

But, like in the basement at St. Agnes, where a show of hands confirmed that not one attendee willing to play detective for the cause had begun their research by reading the public Grand Jury report on Gosnell, gross photographs trump information and rhetoric trumps reason.

Instead of remaining relatively quiet and trying to distance themselves from the Gosnell case, pro-choice advocates should be vocally refuting such rhetoric with reason, pictures with words, fear with information. Meanwhile, anti-choice is calling for bigger megaphones.

“[Young reporters] are not the old-school bra-burning feminists,” Newman assures. “The majority of them are pro-life. It’s just the old hardened producers now that we’ve got to just wait for them to fall off the apple cart.”

Aided by a convicted felon and the Holy Spirit, Operation Rescue’s foot soldiers are setting up shop in Philadelphia, methodologically targeting every local abortion clinic and practitioner and even offering financial awards: $25,000 for tips leading to an arrest.

“The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” Newman says. “Make a few phone calls! Smile and dial!”

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Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. pete hoge said... on Mar 9, 2011 at 03:36PM

“Christ calls us to pray for sinners, not harass them
with cheap methods which show that the Holy Spirit
is not with a person.

May the Blessed Mother of God pray for all of us

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2. SpeechScrolls said... on Mar 9, 2011 at 05:05PM

“- It's important to note that Scott Roeder, who shot and killed Dr. George Tiller, was not a member of or have any association with Operation Rescue. He did post on their website (as anyone could) that Dr. Tiller should be stopped.

- Also important is that Tiller was one of the few Dr. who performed late term abortions, something that is not supported by many on the pro-choice side either.

- @Pete Hoge. So if you saw a person being beat up, you simply pray for the offender and walk on. Remember that OR believes a human being is murdered with every abortion.

- I'm always confused when a woman carrying a child is murdered, why it becomes 2 counts of murder, but aborting a child isn't murder at all.

It will be interesting to see what tactics OR uses in Philadelphia, being in a larger city than they've protested in before.

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3. Richard Nelson said... on Mar 10, 2011 at 02:08AM


1: Roeder was not a member, but he was much more involved than just a few random posts. A senior member of Operation Rescue even helped Roeder keep tabs on Tiller and his whereabouts.

2: Yes, I have my concerns about how late is TOO late, as well[it's a tough call to make] but it's been made by the courts, and as for now even late-term abortion has been legally determined not to be 'too late'.

3: You are absolutely right, action must be taken to defend the innocent, like the doctors and pregnant teens who are being targeted by Operation Rescue and various other fanatics.

4: People of faith, particularly Christians, often seem unable to tell the difference between "opinions" and "facts". "Red is my favorite color" is an opinion, "Red is a color" is a fact, but "Chair is a color" is NOT a fact, and therefore "Chair is my favorite color" is NOT a valid opinion. Do you see where I'm going with this? An aborted cluster of cells is not a person.”

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4. Richard Nelson said... on Mar 10, 2011 at 02:15AM

“Anyways, if you can't tell, I'm very concerned about Operation Rescue coming to my city, and have been looking into what to do about it. Although I'd love to give them a taste of their own medicinde- such as tormenting them by spreading slander, falsified allegations and their home addresses- that's not what I'm talking about. What I am suggesting is contacting and working with organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to make sure the doctors and patients have proper protection[legally as well as physically]. If anyone else in the city is as concerned about this as I am, please contact me. My e-mail is”

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5. Anonymous said... on Mar 10, 2011 at 12:42PM

“I enjoyed Tara Murtha’s article on Gosnell some weeks back, it was a surprise to read it in PW. This piece is a return to form and even though I should know better, I am disappointed.
There are many smart, worldly, non-radical people that believe that abortion is a crime against human dignity. Check out former abortionist and NARAL co-founder Bernard Nathanson. He died as an ardent “Anti-Abortion” radical.
Is it really fair to paint anyone that is not “Pro-Choice” as an idiot? Have any of us really taken a fresh look at abortion and our opinions about it?

For years, every Saturday, a small group of Mom-mom and Pop-pop type "anti-abortion" protestors stood at the corner of 38th and Lancaster for a bit, and then processed down the street. At the time I was confused as to why a rinky-dink center in Powelton would draw such a regular focused protest.
The onus was on those that defend abortion as necessary to respond to complaints and abuses. No one from the “Pro-Choice” community did anything visibly to intervene. If this rag-tag group of old folks prevented one teen-ager from being killed, or prevented one woman from unwittingly delivering and paying for the murder of a nearly full-term infant then I am glad they were there.
Biologically, a fetus is a complete, discrete human organism (that is a fact). A fetus is not a tumor. What importance we attach to any human organism and any stage of life is a matter of values or “ethics” (very old people, embryos, convicted murderers etc.). Is it really so strange that many people believe that it should not be an arbitrary decision that determines if a human organism has value?

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6. Nizcole said... on Mar 10, 2011 at 02:24PM

“I shared this article with Planned Parenthood. Hopefully they can organize something to stop these people.”

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7. melissa said... on Mar 12, 2011 at 11:51PM

“A lot of good points are being made here. And chair is my favorite color.”

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8. Any Woman said... on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:38AM

“Womens Rights First...guess we will just go back to allowing women to die having illegal and unsafe procedures...NOT WHILE I LIVE AND BREATHE. Come to Philly. Come to NJ. Either way WE will stop you from speaking badly and brainwashing people out of our rights. I dont care what you think or what you say. It is my body, my life, my CHOICE. No ONE, especially no MAN should dictate our lives. Most siuations do not involve late term abortions but they are highlighted by 'ProLife' activists to be provacative...too bad they aren't worried about the womans life at all. We are secondary and unimportant to them.

It is time for ProChoice people to step up and step out. I for one will be right there the whole way.

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9. Anonymous said... on Mar 14, 2011 at 04:25PM

“This article inspired me to give money to Planned Parenthood. Those people are gross, I'll probably start volunteering there now too. Thanks women's rights haters!”

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10. Josh said... on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:41AM

“Despicable. These folks need to re-read their Bibles (and also our Constitution).”

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11. Anonymous said... on Mar 16, 2011 at 01:13PM

“These people are suppposed to be pro-life and yet they kill. I am disgusted by these people and if someone is hurt in anyway, then they should be held accountable.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Mar 18, 2011 at 03:33PM

“Have planned parenthood move it's offices to North Philadephia. Problem solved.”

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13. Multipass said... on Mar 21, 2011 at 05:55AM

“The only radical I see is the author.”

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14. PRO-CHOICE ALL THE WAY said... on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:42AM


Every last one of these people are retarded. Find a real job. Get a life. And leave this decision up to the women. It is hard enough that we have to even make decisions like this. You think you can shut down all clinics in Pennsylvania?

But trust and believe, Philadelphians are unlike any other. So be smart!”

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15. Anonymous said... on Apr 21, 2011 at 02:02PM

“Women will have abortions whether you anti-abortion activists like it or not so don't waste your time trying to make it illegal. If you really care about human life like you say you do you would allow people to get safe operations and not harm themselves by performing their own surgeries. Also many teens would commit suicide if there were no abortion option. What do you care more about a bible, an unborn child, or a human who already exists and has a working mind?”

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16. Tera Powers said... on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:12AM

“To whoever wrote: "There are many smart, worldly, non-radical people that believe that abortion is a crime against human dignity."

And there are millions of conservative, so-called "pro-life" women who get abortions in a crisis.”


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