The Non-Political (But Vote for Blackwell) Flying Fetus Squadron
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 03:02:05 AM EST
Just in case Ohio's "patriot pastors" aren't enough to push Ken Blackwell's polling numbers over the top before November, Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer announced that his gubernatorial campaign is receiving air support from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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As a shock tactic, a national group that opposes abortion plans to fly a billboard-size picture of an aborted fetus over Cleveland beginning Monday.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, which frequently employs such attention-grabbing advertising, hopes to jar people into reconsidering their support of abortion, director Gregg Cunningham said.
The group advocates nonviolence, but its displays often set off aggressive protests that result in vandalism and lead to arrests.

The group's nonprofit status prevents it from campaigning for candidates or ballot issues, but it is targeting Ohio because of its heated races for governor and other statewide offices. The group flew pictures above Cincinnati and Columbus in the weeks leading up to Ohio's May primary as part of its 2006 Key States Initiative.

Cunningham said the group is spending millions of dollars on the campaign, which he said is not political.

Given the legalities, Gregg Cunningham feels a frequent need to make that disclaimer in election years, but let's take a look at how he and his Center for Bio-Ethical Reform really operate.

Cunningham denies a political motivation in Ohio, but in the months before the 2004 general election, the CBR's efforts were specifically committed to tipping the balance in the presidential race.

An organization in the anti-abortion movement is attempting to influence the results of this year's presidential election by graphic displays of unborn children and abortion. Greg Cunningham, head of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) has developed a Key States Initiative that entails driving large rental-type trucks into cities and setting up displays on college and university campuses. Knowing that, while relatively small, the anti-abortion vote is committed, Cunningham calculates that in states where the race will be tight between Bush and Kerry, the aroused persons could make a difference.

And Cunningham doesn't even try to play coy about his intention to influence this year's senatorial race in Pennsylvania, where CBR's airplanes and trucks will be operating every day from now until November 7 because "Pennsylvania is a key battleground for control of the Senate."

Arousing people is what Gregg Cunningham does best, and he's giving Ohio his best shot.

He said the banner would be the most graphic picture ever displayed from the air.

"It will be categorically the most shocking we have ever done," he said. "The imagery is so horrifying that I can't almost stand to look at it."

Cunningham has honed his aggressive tactics through years of taking his Genocide Awareness Project to college campuses across the country - whether the schools want him there or not.

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[Cunningham is on the right in both photos: Genocide Awareness Project]

Along with perpetuating some standard antiabortion scare tactics ...

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... the GAP campaign displays fetus graphics alongside photographs of the corpses of victims of racially-motivated lynchings and the Nazi Holocaust.

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[Photos: Genocide Awareness Project]

And the reaction of one University of Kansas student is a typical response.

Simone Fischer, 20, a student from San Antonio, said her first impulse was to tear down the signs when she saw the swastika and a photo of Holocaust victims headlined "Religious Choice'' next to abortion photos headlined "Reproductive Choice.''

"Being the Jewish new year, one of the most sacred days, and I see abortion being compared to Jewish graves and the Holocaust, I did not feel welcome on my own campus,'' Fischer said. "My feeling was shock and then anger. I felt violated.''

As far as Cunningham is concerned, shock and anger make his displays a success. Gregg Cunningham likes to play rough: "This is like a chess game where we don't even let our opponent sit down at the table until we've pre-positioned the pieces to place him at checkmate. Then we invite him to sit down and tell him, 'It's your move.' Although we're not going to do anything unlawful or immoral, we're not going to play this game pursuant to rules written by pro-aborts and weak bishops."

Frank Pavone -- national director of Priests for Life and owner of America's most well-traveled and frequently memorialized fetal specimen -- feels the same way as Cunningham about the way "this game" is played by his superiors in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and he's got the mileage to prove it.

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Frank Pavone and Gregg Cunningham at a CBR Planning Meeting

I recently bought a truck. A big one, like the ones you see delivering supplies to the supermarkets. And the other day, I got to ride on it for the first time.

What's important about it is not what's on the inside, but what's on the outside. The truck is actually a traveling billboard, and anyone looking at it sees the images of children who were aborted within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy.
The Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR), on whose Board of Directors I serve, has launched the "Reproductive Choice Campaign", which utilizes the highway system, a key means of transportation, as a vehicle of education. I have worked with CBR and its director, Gregg Cunningham, for years, and this is one of the projects we are now launching around the nation. Four of these huge trucks have been traveling the highways of Los Angeles all summer and will soon appear in other states.
The truck project, moreover, makes full use of the First Amendment, a tool which we in the pro-life movement need to better understand and more fully utilize. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right of people to convey verbal and graphic messages despite the fact that they offend others, and despite the fact that children may be among the viewers.
The truck I recently rode in was the first I ever bought. I assure you, it won't be the last.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Despite his claim that everyone who approaches a Genocide Awareness Project  display is treated "with respect," Cunningham has earned his reputation as a litigious bully, pursuing his alleged "right" to violate Hawaii's state law against aerial advertising all the way to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and vowing to continue the fight until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.

And folks who lack the legal resources of a state government -- or even a megachurch -- fare no better when they object to CBR operations.

Consider how Cunningham responded only a month ago to a mother who objected when CBR trucks with graphic abortion pictures repeatedly circled her children's day camp last month in Kittanning, Pennsylvania - a borough with a population of less than 5,000.

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According to Kathy Knepshield, a staff member of the Armstrong County YMCA, several of the trucks rolled past the YMCA on North Water Street around noon and one of the drivers was allegedly taking photos of children in an outdoor day camp. Knepshield said the posters, bearing images of an aborted fetus, upset many of the children in the camp.
One parent, Brenda Sarambo of Kittanning, had her six-year-old twins attending the camp. Sarambo said the images upset her children and prompted her to contact the sponsoring organization, The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, based in Lake Forest, Calif., by e-mail.

"I was really irate," Sarambo said. "I gave them a good piece of my mind. I was so upset, I even threatened to assault a driver if those trucks should comeback again."
Center for Bio-Ethical Reform spokesperson, Gregg Cunningham, speaking from his home in California," said he intends to turn Sarambo's comments over to local law enforcement and to the FBI. He added that because of the reaction by Sarambo, Knepshield and others, including Kittanning police, his organization may now "target' Kittanning.
"Apparently the people of Kittanning aren't getting the message. If we get the impression that the people of Kittanning need to learn more about the First Amendment, then we will focus on Kittanning in a way that will make their heads spin. We will lavish unwanted attention on them with our fleet of trucks and aircraft."
"Let's say this," [Cunningham] said, "we have a fleet large enough to swamp Kittanning. Not one resident will be able to go out their door without seeing one of our trucks."
In an e-mail reply to Sarambo, Cunningham told her she was a "pagan' for sending her children to a "Christian' camp (the YMCA) then being upset by the Center's anti-abortion campaign.

"All we're trying to do is to educate people about what abortion really is," He said. "Perhaps we need to come back and drive our message home."

Mark Harrington is the Midwest director for the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. He also has his own radio show and his own web site.  Harrington's site promotes the Genocide Awareness Project and some of CBR's very special friends, such as Flip Benham of Operation Save America ...

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"Operation Rescue's Flip Benham challenges the group"

... and, of course, Ken Blackwell.

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"Ohio Secretary of State Ken Balckwell (sic) urges people to vote"

Now, like the villagers of Kittanning, PA, Ohio had better get ready to shut up and pay attention as Gregg Cunningham drives his in-your-face message home.  After all, it's not as though it was political or anything.

[Title photo from Center for Bio-Ethical reform]

Those people suck!

Sorry it's not a particularly elegant piece of input, but it's what they inspire in me. I was taking Daughter in Ohio Christmas shopping the year before last, and on our way home, while waiting at a stop light, we were treated to one of those g*dawful fetus trucks right in front of us.

My nine year old daughter was, as one might expect, horrified, and I had to try to explain it to her.

I wish abortion was a lot more rare than it is, but those people aren't helping. At all.
Independent Bloggers' Alliance
by Renee in Ohio on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 10:22:20 PM EST

I wonder where they are getting their pictures.

I worked at a hospital where abortions were being done routinely and was absolutely against abortion until I saw the "specimens" that came down to Pathology.   What came down in the little bottles were small, intact gobs of something about the size and appearance of small shrimps.  Not one of them ever looked like the dead bloody mutilated babies in the anti-abortionists pictures.

My feeling now is, if you don't believe in abortion, don't have one, but leave others alone to make their own choices.

by Concerned on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 10:40:58 PM EST

Cunningham claims that he paid an abortion provider in England to allow his photographer to film an abortion procedure in progress, and to photograph the fetus afterward.

At least one Catholic writer has condemned him for consenting to the death of the fetus in question when he paid for that privilege, and has strongly suggested that he humble himself to seek forgiveness.

If I can find the link again, I'll post it.

Of course you're right about first-trimester fetal pathology specimens. Even if you enlarged photos of those until they were large enough to cover the side of a moving van, no one could tell what they were supposed to be -- which is why Cunningham fudges the gestational ages a bit.

But that's show biz.

by moiv on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 11:39:19 PM EST


Not to play terrier shaking a rat, but today I printed off a picture from of the "10 week abortion banner". That picture does not look right.  It happens that the hand is placed on top of an American quarter and it seemed to be too big and too well developed to be the result of a 10 week pregnancy.

The hand from fingertips to wrist is about 3/11 of the diameter of an American quarter or 6.5 mm.  Now if a fetus is only 31 mm long (1.22 inches) at ten weeks of gestation and the head takes up half of that length,what kind of child was this?

In terms of a newborn at birth and the average of 20 inches in length, that child would have hands that measured 4 inches from finger tip to wrist.

Also, if one looks at the length of the leg from heel to knee, it takes up almost the diameter of the quarter which is 24 mm (7/8").  That fetus would have to have been at least 3 inches long
(three times the length of a ten week gestation)

This looks like at least a 14 week pregnancy to me which puts it into the second trimester and the chances of having an abortion at this stage are poor, at least in a hospital in Canada. I'm not up on the latest in the US or England.

This then leads me to question whether this abortion might not have been carried out by a "back street butcher" of the very type that legalized abortion was to help put out of business.  

And how did our pristine Mr. Cunningham just happen to know people of that ilk?

What do you think?

by Concerned on Thu Aug 03, 2006 at 09:52:24 PM EST

Cunningham claims to have taken his pictures in Europe, but I haven't seen any details as to which country.

You're right  about the path measurements; they just don't add up. But one very common trick used by anti propagandists is to present "facts" on fetal development by deliberately misrepresenting the gestational weeks.

As you know, gestational weeks are universally calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP), a date customarily understood to be approximately two weeks before fertilization -- which is why the average pregnancy is said to be 40 weeks long.

But propagandists like Cunningham routinely fudge their facts by subtracting those first two weeks, so that what they call a 10 week fetus is what anyone else would measure as -- allowing for some normal variation -- an 11-13 week pregnancy.

Cunningham's site admits as much, in a statement from physician and attorney Anthony P. Levatino, vouching for the accuracy of CBR's graphics:

It is my professional opinion that the photos depict aborted human embryos and fetuses and that the depicted aborted human embryos and fetuses are accurately captioned as to age, in weeks since fertilization.

That might account for some of the discrepancy, though perhaps not all. But Cunningham is so aggressively and notoriously litigious that most people would probably hesitate before challenging his "facts" in public, and he makes sure they think twice.

[W]e need your help in documenting examples of pro-abortion lies concerning CBR "photo fraud." As you become aware of statements designed to discredit our organization, carefully note them and please pass the information on to us. When the time is right, we will make an example of those who attack the integrity of pro-lifers they know they can't beat in honest debate.

by moiv on Thu Aug 03, 2006 at 11:47:03 PM EST
in referring to the secrecy surrounding his acquisition of photographs, he compares himself to heroes of the "Jewish underground" during World War II.

We are sometimes asked how and from what sources we have compiled our huge library (perhaps the largest in the world) of aborted baby photos and video. Understandably, the terms of our acquisition agreements prohibit the disclosure of that information. If we must divulge this information pursuant to the lawsuits we are preparing, we will do so "in camera," which means in a judge's chambers, off the record, so the information will be sealed and never made public.

A partial analogy may be useful in explaining the lengths to which we go to obtain and use these shocking pictures. The July 24/July 31, 2000 issue of U.S. News & World Report published the following account of World War II espionage:

Jan Karski never stormed a beach or flew an Allied airplane but he was one of World War II's great heroes. Disguised as a Nazi guard, the Polish courier [a member of the Jewish underground] sneaked into the Izbica death camp, then made a perilous journey to London to tell of the mass tortures and killing he had seen.

CBR doesn't "sneak" into abortion clinics but in a certain sense, the parallels between our work and that of Jan Karski are considerable.

Gregg Cunningham, hero of the American underground, also says that some people might not understand that "[a]bortion stretches, tears and otherwise distorts the soft tissue of these very small unborn babies."

So he cuts himself quite a bit of slack.

by moiv on Fri Aug 04, 2006 at 12:00:03 AM EST

From Children of the Rosary.

There has been much debate in the pro-life community over the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), created by Gregg Cunningham. The project consists of tri-fold pictures depicting three genocides: that of the Jewish people, Black lynchings and the genocide of the preborn. A fantastic idea, it's raising awareness quite well on the college campuses it has visited.

Mr. Cunningham called Collegiate Activists Liberating Life (CALL) in 1997-1998, asking us to promote among our network students a new video, "The Harder Truth," which came from the same source as the GAP project. Mr. Cunningham explained to Laura Carroll, then Network Director of CALL, that he had paid a European abortion clinic administrator to allow a photographer into the operating room to film and photograph an abortion on the mother of a child only 8-10 weeks old --- on the condition that the photographer would not interfere with the killing.

Mr. Cunningham supports his decision to bribe the administrator of a killing center in order to film the murder. In addition, he maintains that the photographer "couldn't" have stopped the killing;

  1. because he had agreed to stand by and watch,
  2. because he would have then been unable to continue filming the poor little baby being dismembered.

CALL would like to reiterate once again in this writing that it is unquestionably immoral and sinful to have taken those pictures in such a fashion. We would ask that no college pro-life organization let GAP's presence at their campus.

It is very important to send the firm message to Mr. Cunningham that it is NEVER licit to stand by and watch a baby being killed, let alone to PAY someone to watch them die.

Please pray that Mr. Cunningham, the Center for Bioethical Reform and GAP come to an understanding of the moral aspects of this problem, and repent of their actions.

More on the use and abuse of "The Harder Truth" and other hoked-up shock graphics here.

by moiv on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 12:00:43 AM EST

has tried to fly his planes in Hawai`i but lost, fairly big-time, on appeal to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ( We have had a long-standing law on the books against signs, billboards, etc., and an equally long-lived citizen's group (The Outdoor Circle) that are absolutely fierce in going after violators of all kinds.

He plans to take it to the Supreme Court but, if he loses there, has threatened to "swamp" the state with his trucks.

by wahineslc on Wed Aug 02, 2006 at 03:06:39 AM EST

seems to be boundless.

He routinely threatens preemptive legal action against targeted universities that might object to the presence of his GAP campaign on their campuses, and this was Cunningham's response to the Jewish student who said that she felt violated by his exploitation of the Holocaust:

"Frankly, I'm weary of genocide snobs who focus solely on their causes.''

by moiv on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 03:50:53 AM EST

"Frank Cunningham calls upset Jewish college student "genocide snob" "

That doesn't sound very nice.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 09:37:05 AM EST

What we need to do is buy some trucks of our own and call them "Reality Trucks" and drive them around the country.  The pictures on these trucks would be EASY to find:  Two unwanted children almost starved to death here in Wichita; the daily face of poverty brought on by lack of reproductive choice; child abuse, child neglect; the unplanned death of a beloved spouse brought on by the forced carry-to-conception of a dangerous pregnancy--those of us concerned with the remainder of the child's life would have no trouble filling up a "reality truck' with pictures!  Let's use their childish tactics agin 'em.


by Pauljaxon on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 03:56:28 PM EST

More mud slinging from the Ohio religious right on behalf of Ken Blackwell.

Standing over the body with bloody knife in hand, the Ohio Republican Party pleaded innocent.

It didn't kill the candidate it had just stabbed to death, the party said. And if it did stab the candidate, it didn't know it was stabbing him. Most assuredly, the party protested, it would never condone stabbing the candidate it had just stabbed.
By Thursday, state Chairman Robert T. Bennett knew the party had been caught red-handed and issued an apology to the victim, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for governor. But the scurrilous mission had been accomplished: Let the whispering campaign begin.

The attack ... was brutally personal - and a lie. The message the GOP had asked its followers to spread across the Ohioscape is that Strickland and his wife are gay, never mind their nearly 20 years of marriage.

In yet one more perversion of religion, the state party hired a conservative Christian to do the dirty work, using a computer at party headquarters to spread the rumor via e-mail to "profamily" conservatives. Gary Lankford, headmaster of a Christian home school, started in early July as the Ohio GOP's "social conservative coordinator."
[E]merging details about Lankford's connections make it difficult for the party to disavow knowing exactly who it was getting when it hired him. Lankford was less than two months removed from serving as a paid "voter contact consultant" for the primary election campaign of Republican gubernatorial nominee J. Kenneth Blackwell.

And before being hired by the GOP, Lankford worked for the Ohio Restoration Project, a conservative religious group that has been accused of violating its tax-exempt status by favoring Blackwell at its meetings. The group is headed by the Rev. Russell Johnson, a staunch Blackwell supporter and pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster.

In an interview Thursday, Johnson perpetuated the rumor by suggesting that the Stricklands file a lawsuit and go to court to prove they are heterosexuals. If Lankford's claim is untrue, Johnson said, "It's slanderous and they've got a case. I'm withholding judgment until the facts are in."

by moiv on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 08:15:55 PM EST

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