Anti-Abortion Group Operation Rescue Takes Its Terror Tactics to the Web

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Jan. 25, 2012

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Last year, in the wake of the arrest of Kermit Gosnell, Operation Rescue came to town. They met in the basement of St. Agnes Church in West Chester. As PW reported in March, the militant anti-abortion organization was there recruiting volunteers to gather doctors’ names and schedules by pretending to be mothers of daughters who were seeking abortions. Volunteers were told they’d find it surprisingly easy to lie, and that the Holy Spirit would tell them what to say. It was described as playing a fun detective game.

Last week, Operation Rescue debuted the result of its labor: The tagline for is “the largest collection of documents on America’s abortion cartel.” The online database “endeavors to list every surgical abortion clinic, every ‘abortion pill-only’ clinic, and every abortionist in the United States.”

“Secrecy and darkness are only good for rats, cockroaches and the abortion industry,” declared Operation Rescue President Troy Newman to a basement full of the faithful.

“Unfortunately, it’s become an act of courage for a physician to be willing to perform a legal medical procedure,” says Dayle Steinberg, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “They’re intimidated, threatened, and as everybody knows, worse. They’ve been murdered.”

Since 1977, the National Abortion Federation has documented eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 instances of arson, 391 invasions, 100 butyric acid attacks, 662 anthrax threats, 523 instances of stalking and 418 death threats against clinic workers.

“It’s just another form of terrorism against abortion providers,” says Jen Boulanger, executive director of the Allentown Women’s Center, a health-care facility that also provides abortion care. “It’s a form of harassment and intimidation of abortion providers, to discourage them from continuing to provide services.”

Boulanger knows a thing or two about harassment. Last month, the AWC relocated from Allentown to Bethlehem. The new facility is only a few miles away, but clinic workers hope the new location in an industrial park surrounded by private property will help shake the aggressive, menacing anti-abortion protesters who regularly swarmed the old place. “There’s more private property around the entrance,” says Boulanger. “Protesters cannot get up to the door.”

Without a “buffer zone” like the one in Pittsburgh that mandates protesters stay a certain number of feet from the front door of a clinic, and as long as it’s public property, protesters can get close—shoving-fliers-into-pockets-while-screaming close, or creating-a-gauntlet-of-arms close—to patients trying to enter or exit the building.

A few years ago, it got so bad in Allentown that AWC staff used blue plastic tarps as mobile tunnels, shielding and guiding patients to the door.

“It enraged the protesters because they weren’t allowed to do what they wanted to do, which was really get at the women,” says Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney of the Women’s Law Project, which has represented the AWC. “So [the protesters] filed a lawsuit. They claimed the AWC was engaged in a conspiracy with the city of Allentown to deprive the protesters of their First Amendment right to protest.”

They lost, and then filed an appeal, which is still pending.

Boulanger says that she’s noticed that facilities with layouts that enable protesters to get very close to patients tend to attract more militant activists. “Proximity brings out bullying personalities,” she says. “The closer that they were to us, the more aggressive they became.”

It gets way worse than just chanting outside the waiting room window and throwing plastic fetus dolls.

“[Protesters] papered my neighborhood with these bright orange fliers that stated who I was and what car I drove and where I lived, and asked my neighbors to call me … and tell me to stop killing babies,” recalls Boulanger. Her mother, who lives in another state, received a letter telling her she should be ashamed of herself for raising a bad Catholic.

“We’re cautious when we open our mail,” says Boulanger. “It’s just how we live. We live in a culture of terror.”

Still, despite these threats, Boulanger is outspoken about her work. In 2009, she wrote a Huffington Post essay, “Come Together to Prevent My Murder,” about “the upswing in aggression and violent rhetoric by protesters” in the weeks following the murder of abortion provider and pro-choice champion Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder.

“What scares me more is the service not being available for people,” Boulanger says. “If you think about it all the time, you’ll drive yourself crazy.”

The number of abortion doctors has been declining since the ’80s.

With a quick search around the database, it’s apparent it is in its infancy; names of clinics and individual doctors are listed and the addresses are Google-mapped, but most still need personal addresses and photos—except Gosnell, who is filed under Pennsylvania despite the fact that he is not a practicing doctor.

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Joseph Woods said... on Jan 25, 2012 at 09:35AM

“What is sick, are the people who wish to tell people how to live their lives. If these anti-abortion people want to take away the rights and freedoms of individuals, perhaps they should live in an archaic country where oppression reigns and dominates the people.

This makes me sick reading that these people who are against abortion threaten and endanger the lives of others, yet still believe they are free of "sin".

Glad I don't live in America where religious fanatics run rabid and have the ability to endanger the lives of innocent people. These people should be ashamed.

Pro-Choice all the way. Take away our choice, take away our freedom.”

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2. Problem is said... on Jan 25, 2012 at 03:37PM

“'s really a choice of whether to end a life. Anyone who has seen an ultrasound knows that and it's disingenuous to say otherwise. Doesn't mean it's ever going to be outlawed, but it also shouldn't be a fallback for birth control.

This has gotten so polarized that it's moved beyond the point where it might actually do some good. The roughly 1.2 million abortions that take place in this country every year are in large part due to the absence of advance planning. The right to pursue it isn't going anywhere, but the woman loses when she gets to the point when it's the only option left.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jan 25, 2012 at 06:09PM


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4. inthefight said... on Jan 26, 2012 at 08:29AM

“We need to treat these protesters for what and who they are. They are terrorist. They use means of scare tactics, harassment, hateful speeches and at times ultra violent acts to get their personal religious views across. It is terrifying for women who have to endure the mistreatment when they are going in to a "Womens Clinic" for something as simple as a Pap test or birth control not to mention abortions. I have seen the faces of the victims who are affected by this abuse. And in my life time I will continue to do all I can to stop it.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jan 26, 2012 at 09:41AM

“who are the real terrorists? I would say those that are murdering the innocent pre born. Think of the terror that these little ones feel when their little limbs are being torn off and sucked threw a vacuum to be thrown out as with the garbage. and @ithefight...just think of the little faces, of the victims of this holocaust, as what you will see as you face your judgment day. I shudder to think of it!

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6. Anonymous said... on Jan 26, 2012 at 09:56AM

“Does the National Abortion Federation keep track of the number of innocent babies who have been executed? I bet not. But for the record, there have been 54 MILLION babies murdered in the name of "choice'" Their little lives mattered, if not by their own mothers, but by every pro life person who fights for against this holocaust. One day America will be rid of this heinous crime of abortion and every single abortionist and clinic worker, who participated in the murder of the innocent little ones will be held personally responsible and charged with first degree murder. As Slavery was outlawed so will go the way of Abortion. The good American people will not put up with it anymore. Roe V. Wade was all based on lies and those lies are coming back to bite them in the a**.”

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7. Love Babies said... on Jan 26, 2012 at 10:18AM

“Oh please, I am so sick of hearing Jennifer Boulanger exaggerate the supposed violence she thinks is happening. She's lied about the situation at the Allentown Women's Center and the pro-lifers there, and she's still lying!. Many of us, pro-lifers, have been doing sidewalk counseling at the doors of abortion mills for years, and we are not, in the least, interested in hurting anyone. On the contrary, the violence that occurs is inside the abortion mill, as the babies are sucked out of their monthers' wombs. This is violence toward women: "Women deserve the right to their own bodies, even in the womb." So please, if you are going to make this a news story, then please start wtih getting your facts together and interviewing both sides of the issue.”

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8. Born baby #46 said... on Jan 26, 2012 at 01:20PM

“It's the preborn child who is targeted for death.
Repent and stop the killing and live your life with peace.
Join a group with positive options for both the pregnant woman
and her child.”

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9. Pro-Life Activist said... on Jan 27, 2012 at 10:10PM

“Don't forget, abortion is a business--a big, million dollar business. We do not judge the patients. We try to correct the lies told to them about the Fetus (Latin, meaning BABY), by the abortion providers, to spare them the trauma, pain and sadness of realizing they've killed their child, created by God. We speak for the voiceless and pray to change hearts to choose LIFE.”

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10. Old-fashioned Christian said... on Jan 28, 2012 at 02:01PM

“Funny, how the same people who swoon over the fate of the pre-born are also so very vehement about not funding the same services that make abortion less likely -- or against feeding and educating the children already here. I think that makes them what my Jesus called "blind Pharisees."”

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11. Voice of Choice said... on Jan 29, 2012 at 09:52AM

“Help stop harassment of law abiding providers and patients. Join Voice of Choice at to help defuse the intimidation and violence.”

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12. Abortion is Murder! said... on Feb 7, 2012 at 12:07PM

“The way I see it, if someone is for abortion, they think killing a baby is okay. The way I see it, why not killing toddlers, teenagers, adults? There are plenty of people who can not take care of themselves, much like a preemie, why not kill them too? Al disabled people who are not self sufficient should go to, along with the elderly. I figure that if we accept murder in any form, we should be okay with it in all forms. I'm glad that my parents didn't abort me, maybe the pro-choicers should remember that the next time they say abortion is okay.”

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13. Baron Davis said... on Feb 12, 2012 at 08:05AM

“Wow, Murtha, way to go in your task to write the most one-sided article ever! You spoke with nobody who does not side with your abortion-loving lifestyle. Hooray for impartiality.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Feb 25, 2012 at 11:05PM

“Killing and threatening are not Christian traits, no matter how you spin it. If you kill or threaten to, you are exactly as bad as the people you are trying to stop.
This is the United States. We were NOT founded on Judeo-Christian values, as the silly myth says. Our country came about as a result of the Enlightenment. Franklin,Washington and many others were Freemasons. It is an all-inclusive organization whose whole point was not to discriminate on the basis of religion or morality. Jefferson was not even a Christian.
So, you anti-abortioners, tough nougies. It's not YOUR body, and it's not your place to play God and try to intercede. If you have so much faith in Him, then why do you think you, a trifling stupid mortal, has to do it for Him?

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15. Anonymous said... on Mar 15, 2012 at 06:36AM

“When the 'pro-lifers' spend as much energy on banning the death penalty, banning guns, banning landmines, cluster bombs and nuclear warheads and calling for the disbanding of the military-industrial complex then I might take their arguments about the sanctity of life seriously. Until that day they are simply a bunch of misogynists who are parading under a false flag..”

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16. Anonymous said... on Apr 21, 2012 at 01:23PM

“To Pro-Life Activist: Abortion is big business? REALLY? You want to talk numbers, look at adoption. That is a billion dollar business! So is giving birth.
To all "pro-lifers": Making abortion illegal will not stop it. Remember? Mitt Romney's aunt died of an illegal abortion: om/2011/08/08/mitt_romney_abortion_ann_keenan/
Many women do not regret their abortions:

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17. Nonya said... on May 3, 2012 at 06:49PM

“You guys are whack. The synapses that enable the fetus to feel pain don't develop until the third trimester. 99% of all abortions are done before that time. Jeez, take a course in biology.

You talk about taking away the choice to abort, but then deny women the right to affordable birth control. You talk about caring about the baby's life, but will refuse to pay into welfare if it is born to a poor family.

Well, here's some good news for you. If you don't support abortion, you don't have to get one. I personally don't think I would ever get an abortion, but I haven't stepped into the shoes of someone who has had one.

So please stop pushing your beliefs onto everyone. Carrying a fetus to full term and giving birth is a big deal. A BIG DEAL. And you're just gonna go on and force somebody to go through with it?

And for goodness' sake don't go on about saving human lives if you support misinformed wars and civilian deaths. Just sayin.”

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18. Anonymous said... on Feb 22, 2013 at 01:55PM

“Please remember 2 things - MANY abortions are performed for a myriad of other reasons than "bith control" - and making it illegal will not make it go away - sometime you should watch "If These Walls Could Talk" - if you are pro-ife at all, you must care that women died from abortions before they were legal and this will happen again if they are illegal. Besides, it is none of your business what a woman and her medical professional decide is in her best interest....”


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