Storm Clouds Rising
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Tue May 16, 2006 at 04:02:28 AM EST
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Last fall, before the shock of South Dakota's no-quarter "Degüello" of an abortion ban distracted our eyes from ongoing threats to reproductive freedom in other states, PBS Frontline focused our attention upon Mississippi with The Last Abortion Clinic (viewable online)  a riveting account of how the Religious Right has come to exert such control over the legislative process there that only one clinic - the Jackson Women's Health Organization - remains open in the entire state. But for Christian nationalist organizations like Operation Rescue, Operation Save America and Oh Saratoga!, that one clinic is one too many, and this summer they intend to converge in a perfect storm of intolerance to "storm the gates of hell" and close its doors for good.
Even absent the biggest guns of the anti-choice forces, Mississippi's last abortion clinic can feel like a dangerous place to be.

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The Jackson Women's Health Organisation is an anonymous enough building in the heart of strip mall America. Anonymous save for the permanent protest outside.

Arriving here is an intimidating, even shocking, experience. Anti-abortion campaigners hold up enormous and gruesome pictures of aborted foetuses. They stop every car going into the car park and try to persuade those inside to wind down their windows and take their literature.

The women going into this clinic for an abortion are screamed at. One protester, a man, yells "Don't go to those demons, don't let them take your money, don't let them kill your baby". When I ask him why he is being so aggressive, he tells me it's because America needs to know the truth: "Abortion is murder," he says.

Susan Seale is a regular outside the clinic. She's been campaigning against terminations for 23 years. Her conversation is peppered with unrepeatable and vivid descriptions of what happens during a termination. "It's the only way to make people understand," she says.

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Staff and patients inside ... say they feel under siege. The clinics windows are tinted, the blinds firmly shut and a security guard hovers at the door. Despite the harrowing nature of their arrival, the waiting room is full of young women.

During last March's since-failed attempt to pass an abortion ban in Mississippi to rival the South Dakota statute, Operation Rescue sent front man and troubleshooter Keith Mason to Jackson, where he made his presence felt both outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization . . .

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. . . and inside the halls of power.

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Keith Mason was able to briefly meet Gov. Barbour and presented him with an Operation Rescue "Stop Abortion Now" lapel pin.

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Mason joined Terri Herring President of Pro Life Mississippi, as she spoke with different Senators about the abortion ban, asking them to strike the House exception amendment [for rape and incest].

While there still are some people who regard Operation Rescue / Operation Save America and their ilk as fringe groups without true political access or influence, of course nothing could be further from the truth. As I have written before, there are zero degrees of separation between hard-line activist Flip Benham, the Vatican's designated "Vicar for Life" Fr. Frank Pavone, and leading politicians such as God's Senator, Sam Brownback.

Flip Benham's version of Keith Mason is Rusty Thomas of Waco, Texas, who already has made his own journey to Mississippi to spy out the land and seek the blessing of the politically powerful upon the concerted attack planned for this summer.

Robby Wachsmann, my assistant, and I just returned from a fruitful and wonderful time in Jackson, MS.  Flip Benham, David Lackey, Jason Troyer, Robby and I converged on Jackson to spy out the land, meet with the local Pro-life brethren, and cast a vision for Mississippi becoming the first state set free from the sin and crime of abortion.  Clearly, the Lord is on this event.  His hand and favor was made manifest every where we went.

Upon our arrival, our host family took us to a Concerned Women of America meeting where I had the privilege to share with them the historical opportunity set before them.  They were gracious and responsive to the call.  They committed to prayer and becoming involved in some capacity.  The next day we picked up Flip at the airport and headed to Tupelo MS., the birth place of Elvis Presley, to meet with the head of American Family Association, Don Wildmon.


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Flip Benham's meeting with Don Wildmon

The Lord gave us great favor with Mr. Wildmon.  He granted his blessing and made a commitment to help in any way he could.  That evening we met with the local volunteers to review with them what it takes to pull off a national event in their city.  There are many areas of responsibility to successfully fulfill the vision and mission.  They, with eagerness, accepted the challenges and are currently busy working to start the tasks assigned.

The next morning, we all met at the last remaining abortion mill in the state of Mississippi .  It is a gruesome place.  Its foundations and pillars are cracking and crumbling.  The Lord provided a visual representation of the spiritual reality associated with this altar to Moloch and Baal.  It wasn't too long before the principalities and powers recognized there was a new sheriff in town.  
This is a strategic time and place in the history of America.  What greater crown could the Church in Mississippi cast before the Lord of glory?  What greater legacy could they leave their posterity?  What better time for the Lord to reclaim His Church to be His instrument of justice and mercy to vanquish this grave evil from their state?  I told them Mississippi may be last in a lot of areas in the United States, but they can become the first and claim the highest position when it comes to the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

The third known participant in this summer's siege will be Oh Saratoga!, which is set to enter Jackson upon the heels of OSA to begin its own action from July 30 to August 4.  Since its web site proclaims that "In the War of Independence the action shifted to the South after the Battle of Saratoga," the Siege of Jackson seems like a natural attraction for Oh Saratoga!  

This call to action from Oh Saratoga! is being passed around so freely that a copy of it even landed in my own inbox.

Jackson Mississippi July 30-Aug 4, 2006.
Information Phone: 315-790-3551  


Mississippi will be in the rescue sidewalk tradition of being the last hope for saving an infant from death at the flashpoint. Many infant lives were saved in these early rescues and more will be saved this summer in Jackson MS.

Pass this flyer along to prepare self and others with prayer and knowledge of the recent past when thousands were arrested and thousands of babies saved and many pagans and semi-pagans were converted to Jesus Christ. Come witness what  the Lord is going to do during Oh Saratoga! at the Big Mississippi Oh Six ['06]! -- July 30-Aug 4.
Oh Mississippi! July 30-Aug 4. Veteran Rescuer Skootch Murdox Von Schprringfelt of Ocala will again skootch- model the Mississippi shuffle.

Mother and Child warriors are planning on saving lives and souls BIGTIME at...


Oh Saratoga! is no stranger to joint campaigns with OSA. In 2004, the two groups joined forces in Albany, an event blessed by Judie Brown's American Life League that saw citizens terrorized in their homes - an egregious intrusion that the official Oh Saratoga! account fails to mention.  However, Dave of A Perfectly Cromulent Blog was less reticent about detailing the true nature of this particular "Christian" crusade.

August 24, 2004

Thou shalt not be an asshole

I'm pretty sure that's the 11th Commandment. I think I saw it in one of those hotel Bibles.
Parents of a newborn were erroneously targeted Wednesday by about 50 abortion protesters who raised posters of mutilated fetuses and called "Evil dwells here" through a bullhorn.

The problem is they had the wrong house, said Tricia Lehra, who was on the receiving end. The group apparently thought Lehra's Washington Road home belonged to a doctor who performs abortions. Lehra, who has a 2-month-old daughter, is a Shenendehowa Central Schools counselor; her husband, August, is an electrical engineer.

"I feel terrorized," said Lehra, who was not home when the group arrived.
Still, later that evening two teens bicycled past her house and screamed "No
abortion," she said. "They do not have their facts straight," she said of the protesters. "They took pictures. Is my house going to end up on their Web site? I feel victimized in my own home."
This marks the second year in an August campaign called "Oh Saratoga!" organized by The Rev. Francis McCloskey, a Roman Catholic priest from East Durham, Greene County, and Flip Benham, director or Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, a militant group of abortion opponents based in Dallas. Neither Benham nor McCloskey could be reached for comment Thursday.
Lehra said police told her she was overreacting. One officer "stated that we're not in any danger because this is a religious group. I told him I lived in Buffalo when Dr. Slepian was killed. I've got a baby in here. I'm afraid."

Wow. That's one stupid cop. Lehra's answer is a good one, but she could have just as easily countered that al-Qaeda, Aum Shinrikyo, the IRA, Hezbollah, the Sudanese Janjaweed, and the Branch Davidians are all "religious groups" (and that's without even bringing up the major churches).

Dave has a point. After OSA's 2005 assault on Colorado in general -- and upon him in particular -- Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder agrees with him.  And today, so do the vastly outnumbered members of NOW-Mississippi and the Southern Abortion Fund, a newly founded member of the National Network of Abortion Funds that has been established to help protect what access to abortion care still remains in Mississippi.

Hello Friends and Allies,

Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) has put out a call for a siege on the last abortion-providing clinic in Jackson, Mississippi this summer. (See for more information on their plans.) Their message is being spread far and wide and we are planning a massive clinic defense demonstration to keep the clinic open. July 15-22, 2006 is the proposed siege week. In order to sustain a week's worth of clinic defense we are in need of a variety of support and especially people to participate in the counter-action. Currently, members of abortion funds across the south are planning for a caravan to Jackson and we need your help!

If you are interested in participating in the caravan or would like to be a fiscal sponsor of the caravan and clinic defense, please contact us as soon as possible! Also, we are in desperate need of items like water bottles and food for the persons who will be convening in Jackson as well as housing opportunities for the activists. We are also raising money to raise awareness with buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and other items. Any letters to the editor that you send regarding this event would be helpful or any other publicity for that matter. We are hoping for a big turn out to let the rest of the south know that we are in this together.  For more information or to find out how to donate contact the Southern Abortion Fund at or the Jackson area NOW chapter at

The storm clouds are gathering on the horizon.  But now we know.

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[Raffaelo's "The Vision of Ezekiel" from the Web Gallery of Art]

what is coming, who will stand against this most un-Christian coalition, and for the women of Mississippi?

by moiv on Tue May 16, 2006 at 04:21:56 AM EST
I hope people will start to wake up and recognize what's going on.  I guess it's time to get in touch with the counter-protesters and figure on a vacation in Jackson, MS this summer...

by montpellier on Tue May 16, 2006 at 12:02:21 PM EST
I haven't studied the relevant stats in Mississippi but I'm wondering how rates of STD's and teen pregnancy in Miss. are doing ? I'm assuming this is an "Abstinence-Ed" state.

There might be a nice contrast - for publicizing this story - latent in those stats.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed May 17, 2006 at 07:56:50 AM EST

I can not understand why those who oppose abortion can't get their minds around a simple fact--Even without access to clinics and competent medical care, a woman who does not want a child, WILL NOT have that child.  Abortions occur because of the agency of the mother.....not some outside force.  So, the mindless minions of the zealots will close another clinic and many, many women will die painful deaths.  Abortions occur regardless of outside intervention.  In my humble opinion,

by Pauljaxon on Tue May 16, 2006 at 02:34:24 PM EST
Sadly, they really don't care, and frankly cannot conceive of an instance where a mother may have to make a heartbreaking choice.  (The most common reasons for 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions are because the fetus won't make it if born, and often the mothers are having an abortion for the express purpose of saving their children from an all-too-brief lifetime full of pain and suffering.)

Very often the pregnancies in question were very much wanted, hoped for, and the dreams of the parents dashed when they found out their child had severe birth defects that were in some cases incompatible with the child ever living outside the womb.  (The website A Heartbreaking Choice has many heart-wrenching stories of parents who chose abortion for this very reason.  The site, of particular note, has stories from parents who have had to travel hundreds of miles to Kansas because it is one of the few facilities in the US that will perform 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions.)

Of course, dominionists don't approve of euthanasia or even allowing people to die naturally if that is their will.  Just ask poor Michael Schiavo, who has had to literally go into hiding because of death threats against both him and the judge who ruled that he could follow his wife's wishes to not live as a vegetable--acts encouraged by rhetoric of dominionist groups who would, if they could, mandate the rest of us be hooked up to machines if in similar states despite what a living will or power-of-attorney agreement might say (and in fact, in many states, one of the big pushes after Schiavo's death was to specifically expand "moral refusal" laws to enable doctors and nurses to disregard living wills or POA agreements to withdraw hydration or nutrition if they thought it would "kill" a dying patient--in fact, such laws were very nearly passed in Wisconsin and  Oklahoma, and at least one dominionist lawyer's association has a model statute up; of particular note to the article Mississippi (which had the strictest abortion laws in the US before North Dakota's total ban) has the broadest "conscience clause" law in the nation--one that may well be broad enough to legally allow a doctor or nurse to disregard a living will or POA); of note, Michael Schiavo now runs a group, TerriPAC, dedicated to protecting living wills and POA agreements.

There are dominionist groups, too--including dominionist medical groups--that want to push it even further.

by dogemperor on Tue May 16, 2006 at 03:37:38 PM EST

As a death penalty defense attorney, it is a continual source of amazement to me how much time, energy, oratory, and money is devoted to, ostensibly, preserving "life" in all its forms -- including the "life" of stem cells and the lives of comatose patients who have specifically indicated that they do not wish to live as vegetables -- by people who consciously and deliberately ignore the fact that every month (it sometimes seems in Texas every day) the government is allowed to extinguish the lives of real, conscious, speaking human beings who are vociferously asserting their desire to live.

Abortion is, I believe, a difficult issue for those who believe in preserving human life.  If I truly believed that human life begins at conception, I would, with great reluctance, adopt an anti-abortion position.  As it is, I agree with President Clinton that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," both because of the psychological trauma to the prospective mother that often accompanies abortion and because of the slight posibility that I might be wrong about when human life begins.

What should not be a difficult issue for those who believe in preserving human life is the legality of capital punishment.  No matter what your definition of "human life" is, the people on Death Row have it.  These are real, live human beings, with names and birthdays.  They eat; they breathe; they brush their teeth and send me Christmas cards.  Most of them you can talk to (a few are so mentally impaired that they cannot or will not talk, even to their relatives or their attorneys), and their conversations can provide valuable insights.  (Has anyone ever talked to an embryo?)  Yet few on the Religious Right deem THEIR lives worthy of preservation.

(To its credit, the Roman Catholic Church is doctrinally consistent in this area; it opposes both abortion AND capital punishment, and there are Catholic anti-death-penalty activists who explicitly base their opposition to capital punishment on the dictates of their faith.  To its discredit, the Catholic Church has been immensely more active in opposing abortion; its opposition to capital punishment sometimes seems like an unimportant afterthought.)

At some point, some on the Religious Right apparently recognized this inconsistency and began claiming that their goal was to protect "worthy" or "innocent" human life.  I know better than most how horrible the consequences of murder can be, both for the direct victims and for their families and friends, but this attempt to sidestep the problem doesn't work.  Putting aside the question of how we, as unquestionably fallible human beings, can have the arrogance to assert that we have the right to determine which lives are "worthy," there is the fact that that our legal system, while one of the best in the world, is still imperfect.  We know that demonstrably innocent people have been sentenced to death, and as long as capital punishment remains in place, the possibility remains that some innocent people will be executed as well.  Most of those on the Religious Right do not care.

None of this proves that the anti-abortionists are wrong.  It might be that BOTH abortion and capital punishment should be opposed by those who seek to preserve human life and that those who seek to address only the abortion aspect of the problem are nevertheless doing a good thing.  However, the VASTLY DISPROPORTIONATE level of energy devoted to ending abortion has convinced me that that the MOTIVES of most of the anti-choice forces are far different from what the anti-choice people claim them to be.  They are not interested in the preservation of human life; they are interested in the subjugation of women.

by Theovanna on Tue May 16, 2006 at 05:42:26 PM EST

I can not understand how America considers itself a "christian" nation and allows the death penalty in ANY form.  It is my belief that any society that allows the death penalty to be carried out is only a short legislative leap from a holocaust.  If we allow one class of criminals to be put to death--we can (and will) allow any class of "criminals"--ie; undesirables, etc. to be put to death.  As one becomes inoculated to the horror of capital punishment, it seems logical that one will accept more and more uses of said punishment.  

Your final sentence says it quite nicely.  I believe as you--this is about control and the control of women and their repoductive freedom.  What's next on their agenda is even more  Of course, I am afraid my worst nightmare is not even close to what they have in mind.  Witness our current administration--what I feared was the worst was NOWHERE near where they have taken us.

In my humble opinion,


by Pauljaxon on Tue May 16, 2006 at 06:58:34 PM EST

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