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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It remains to be seen if the website will be up long enough to be filled with photos and addresses. It might not even be legal.

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act was signed in 1994 in the wake of the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Fla., and the first attempt on Tiller’s life, when he was shot in both arms.

The FACE Act “makes it a federal crime to injure, intimidate, or interfere with those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health care services. That includes not just murder, assault, arson, and property damage, but also death threats, burglaries, harassing phone calls, hate mail, and blockades.”

So is posting personal addresses and photos free speech—or a threat? It depends.

“It doesn’t have to be a very specific threat in the sense of ‘I will kill you,’ given the context of everything’s that happened to people in the past and the goal of the movement to try to annihilate [abortion providers] from this country,” says David Cohen, an associate professor of law at Drexel University who has worked with Frietsche and represented Boulanger and the AWC. He is currently researching abortion provider harassment nationwide. “The definition of threat needs to be taken in that context.”

This is the context: Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue’s senior policy advisor, is convicted felon who pleaded guilty in 1988 to conspiring to blow up a San Diego abortion clinic with a gasoline bomb. After the murder of Tiller in 2009, her phone number was found scribbled onto a piece of paper sitting on the dashboard of Scott Roeder’s vehicle.

As reported by Rachel Maddow, Sullenger later admitted that she had multiple conversations with Roeder about Tiller’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, the Operation Rescue website posted the address of Tiller’s home and church, where he was killed by Roeder.

The practice of targeting individual clinic workers and posting their personal information has been ruled criminal activity by local juries, too.

Last July, Philip “Flip” Benham, former director of Operation Rescue and current leader of a group he calls “Operation Rescue/Operation Save America” in Charlotte, N.C., was found guilty of stalking after posting Western-style “Wanted” posters in the neighborhoods of doctors who perform abortions.

NPR reported that like Operation Rescue’s claims about the database, “Benham denies the posters are a threat and says they’re a tool to inform the community about doctors who are performing abortions.”

Eleanor Smeal, president of DC-based Feminist Majority Foundation, says her legal team is looking into challenging the legality of the database.

“There’s an implied threat,” says Smeal. “There’s no other way of saying it.” Smeal calls it thuggery.

“Are we going to have a lawless country where small minorities can drive anyone out of business?” asks Smeal. “Today it’s this issue. Tomorrow it could be another.”

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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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