Are pro-lifers violent? No. But there are those who accuse them of such.
Recently I had the privilege of meeting Troy Newman, the president of the controversial Operation Rescue since the 1990s. Troy is ordained as an elder in the conservative Presbyterian Church in America denomination.
His office in Wichita, Kansas is the national headquarters of the movement. Interestingly it was once an abortion clinic from 1983 until 2006, where 50,000 unborn babies were killed. In earlier times, Troy used to peacefully protest at that clinic.
Three years ago a 23-year old man showed up in Troy’s office. That man was David Daleiden. Troy and David spent about three days together mapping out David’s idea for a series of undercover videos on Planned Parenthood.
Newman and Daleiden are two of the three board members of the Center for Medical Progress, which has caused quite a sensation in exposing what Planned Parenthood has actually been doing in many of its clinics, harvesting baby body parts for profit.
Years ago, Operation Rescue volunteers would get arrested as they peacefully protested in front of abortion clinics. Troy told me that one time when he was in jail (of the two or three dozen times he was arrested), a light went on in his head.
He wondered, in effect, “Why should I be behind bars, when I’m just trying to save human lives? Instead those who are destroying human lives should be the ones behind bars.” This caused him to rethink Operation Rescue’s strategy for fighting abortion.
By filing complaints against abortion clinics for violating laws and by helping to get common sense safety regulations passed in various states, Newman and other pro-lifers have been able to shut down a number of abortion clinics.
All of these efforts have led to great results. In 1991, the height of abortion in America, there were roughly 2000 abortion clinics. Now at least 1400 of those have been shut down, legally, peacefully, and without a hint of violence—simply by applying the laws to them.
After our TV interview for D. James Kennedy Ministries, Troy and his wife flew out to Australia because he was invited to speak at a pro-life conference. But lies on the Internet bubbled up, and Troy ended up in a holding cell in Melbourne for three days.
The heart of the controversy is simple: Has he or Operation Rescue engaged in or ever advocated for violence? And the answer is an unequivocal “No.” But there are false reports swirling around on the Internet to that effect.
When he was in that holding cell at the Melbourne airport with no cell phone, his assistant emailed me: “His wife is free and being cared for by Prolifers [sic] there. We have hope we will get positive news in the next few hours, but he could still be deported.” And, alas he was deported after three days in captivity.
This was unjust because of Newman’s track record of non-violence. Not only does his group eschew any form of violence, but these pro-life activists want to see those who are caught up in the abortion business saved. Newman’s predecessor, Flip Benham, led Norma McCorvey to faith in Christ. McCorvey was the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade; now Roe agrees with Wade.
In his apology for atheism, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins talks about “the American Taliban.” After a while, I realized he was referring to the crazy people who have killed abortionists. It is not a pro-life act to kill an abortionist. Of those six or so people who have committed violent attacks on abortion clinics or personnel, I know of two professing Christians. One of them repented of his wrongdoing in jail; the other has already received the death penalty.
Every Christian leader denounced that violence. Those few who have committed such violence are a very tiny minority on the fringes. One violent attack is one too many. No one is advocating violence, least of all Newman and Operation Rescue.
When a notorious late-term abortionist, George Tiller, was shot a few years ago, Troy told me how he and his family were disappointed. They had been praying for Tiller to repent and be saved for so long. But now it was too late.
Their website states: “Operation Rescue explicitly denounces violence in any form as a means of ending abortion.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. once told his followers: “We must meet hate with creative love….Let us hope there will be no more violence. But if the streets must flow with blood let it flow with our blood in the spirit of Jesus Christ on the cross.”
When it comes to abortion, the only real violence is usually that which is committed against the baby—and sometimes the mothers, who die from shoddy, botched abortions.