Operation Rescue, a Christian anti-abortion extremist organization “restore legal personhood to the pre-born and stop abortion in obedience to biblical mandates,” was founded in 1986 by Randall Terry. The organization began as a group of anti-abortion activists blocking pregnant people from entering abortion-providing clinics, employing tactics such as throwing themselves under cars and sitting in clinic doorways with images of bloody fetuses while reading scripture. Terry encouraged the use of civil unrest and confrontational tactics to stop pregnant people from accessing medical services at these clinics. In the early stages, it appears that these activities were carried out by individual Operation Rescue organizations that were each independently managed across the country.
Within just three years of Operation Rescue’s inception, thousands of Christians, including clergy members and ministers, mobilized and engaged in so-called “rescue missions,” boycotts, and protests in places with abortion clinics. Through the 1980s, Operation Rescue supporters blockaded abortion clinics and defied court orders, resulting in more than 40,000 arrests by 1991. The group also opened its own anti-abortion centers, which deceive pregnant people and aim to force them to follow through with their pregnancy.
In 1994, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) in response to the violence against abortion providers and patients heralded by Operation Rescue. The jail time and severe fines established through the FACE Act forced Operation Rescue to shift strategies. Since this shift, Operation Rescue tactics have included campaigns to drive up insurance rates with frivolous medical malpractice claims and publicize pending malpractice suits against abortion providers, even where no negligence is ultimately found, all in the hope of closing abortion-providing clinics.
In 1999, Troy Newman became president of Operation Rescue—a position he maintains today—and in 2002, he moved headquarters to Wichita, Kansas. In Kansas, Newman aimed to shut down abortion provider Dr. George Tiller’s clinic through a targeted campaign to bring criminal charges against Dr. Tiller and forced investigations by state health authorities. These attempts were unsuccessful; however, a supporter of Operation Rescue murdered Dr. Tiller in 2010, inspired by the group’s confrontational and violent tactics.
Today, Operation Rescue continues to use tactics, including publishing of “special investigative reports” and videos about nonexistent medical consequences of abortions. It offers $25,000 rewards for “information leading to the arrest and conviction of abortionists” for crimes such as overbilling, embezzlement, financial fraud, substance abuse, and drug violations. The organization also runs AbortionDocs.org, a searchable database of abortion centers across the country, including photographs, work addresses, LinkedIn links, and medical licensing information of abortion providers. Operation Rescue submitted a complaint to the Texas Medical Board against Alan Braid in response to his violation of Texas S.B. 8, which bans abortions in Texas after approximately six weeks. Most recently, Operation Rescue pushed a conspiracy theory that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor leaked the draft Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision as well as praised former President Donald Trump and his three appointed Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett for the official SCOTUS ruling.
The organization touts high-profile political supporters such as Senator Ted Cruz, who made Newman co-chair of Pro-Lifers for Cruz and called Operation Rescue “one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation.” Cruz even employed Operation Rescue’s tactics in a 2016 letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice, arguing the DOJ engaged in “biased enforcement” of the FACE Act. Operation Rescue is not currently registered as a 501(c)(3) organization after losing its tax-exemption status due to electioneering in the 2004 presidential campaign.
In 1991, Operation Rescue Harassed People Seeking Abortion Services For 42 Days In Wichita, Kansas, Known As The “Summer Of Mercy”
Operation Rescue’s Dangerous “Summer Of Mercy” Campaign To Harass Abortion Seekers And Providers Resulted In 2,600 Arrests And A 25,000-Person Anti-Abortion Rally. “On this, the 42nd and final day of an antiabortion campaign in Wichita that its organizers in Operation Rescue called their ‘Summer of Mercy,’ … leaders plan to linger in Wichita to continue court challenges and to seek the release of nearly 200 supporters who remain in jail. Among the more than 2,600 arrested during the campaign are 61 who were arrested during a blockade at a clinic this morning, where police said they were forced to use Mace to quell the protesters. But there will be fewer mass blockades at clinics here, organizers say, and they passed the leadership burden to local abortion opponents at a climactic ‘Hope for the Heartland’ rally this afternoon that drew 25,000 people to Cessna Stadium at Wichita State University. Abortion-rights activists who came to Wichita this weekend for rallies and workshops left after a noon prayer vigil downtown at the Joan of Arc monument.” [Washington Post, 8/26/91]
In A Single Weekend During The “Summer Of Mercy,” Operation Rescue Brags That It Blocked 29 Women From Seeking Abortion Care. “What did Operation Rescue accomplish after swirling into Wichita like a prairie funnel cloud on July 14? One of the group’s leaders, Mick McMonagle of Philadelphia, said this weekend that the clinic blockades had prevented 29 women from having abortions.” [Washington Post, 8/26/91]
Operation Rescue Agitators “Flung Themselves Under Cars” And Blockaded Abortion Clinic Entrances While Shouting Scripture At Pregnant People. “For nearly three weeks now, this city has become the most vivid symbol of an emboldened anti-abortion movement as members of Operation Rescue focus on the city’s three abortion clinics, flinging themselves under cars, sitting by the hundreds at clinic doorways and blocking women from entering as the read them Scripture.” [New York Times, 8/4/91]
Wichita Patients Were Shoved and Harassed As They Sought Abortion Health Care. “[Dr. George Tiller’s patients] were hounded and harassed, shoved and shouted at on the most heart-breaking day of their lives. In order for patients to make it to their appointments, clinic supporters had to coordinate each woman’s arrival with walkie-talkies. They shielded the patient by forming a flying wedge of bodies that rushed through the crowd to escort her into the building. I watched one woman sobbing as she and her husband were helped into the clinic. Her tears went unnoticed by the hundreds of protestors surrounding her who shrieked and wailed and tried to trip the people escorting her to the door.” [HuffPost, 7/1/09]
This Harassment Forced Doctors To Perform Abortion Before Sunrise To Avoid Danger, And Eventually Forced All Three Abortion Clinics In Wichita To Close For Over A Week, Preventing Patients From Receiving The Health Care They Need. “The confrontations have resulted in more than 1,600 arrests and the closing of all three abortion clinics for more than a week in late July … The confrontations show no sign of abating, and some doctors have had to perform abortions in the predawn hours to avoid disruption … “The protesters go about their work with the determination of soldiers, with round-the-clock reconnaissance, taking delight in knowledge of the enemy’s moves. ‘We know when [Dr. George R.] Tiller [who ran one of the abortion clinics, is] using the bathroom,’ said Jeff White, the group’s tactical director.” [New York Times, 8/4/91]
Operation Rescue Agitators Tracked License Plates That Entered Abortion Clinic Lots And Noted The Local Establishments That Did Business With The Clinics, Causing Some Of Them To Cancel Their Contracts For Essential Services Like Trash Collection. “Protesters photographed the license plates of all vehicles that entered the premises and maintained a list of local establishments that did business with the clinic on the Operation Rescue Website. In many cases, this intimidation worked. Staff reported that numerous local establishments abruptly ended long-standing business relationships with WHCS. As a result, many services to which medical providers normally would not give a second thought became problems for the resourceful staff to solve.” [Guttmacher Institute, 9/2011]
Operation Rescue Doubled Down On Its “Summer Of Mercy,” Expanding Its Targets To Include More Cities With Even More Personal Attacks
Operation Rescue Launched Its 1993 “Cities Of Refuge” 10-Day Campaign In Seven U.S. Cities. “Armed with new laws, a get-tough attitude and lessons learned from battles past, seven U.S. cities are bracing for a showdown beginning today between abortion rights activists and Operation Rescue protesters targeting clinics and doctors who perform the procedure. Launching a 10-day campaign dubbed ‘Cities of Refuge,’ Operation Rescue is replaying the annual summer assault on abortion providers it began three years ago. But the battle plan—and goals—have changed for 1993. Instead of targeting a single city, abortion opponents this summer will simultaneously fan out in seven metropolitan areas, from San Jose in the West to Philadelphia in the East.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/9/93]
The “Cities Of Refuge” Campaign Especially Targeted Abortion Providers, Even Showing Up At Their Private Homes To Harass Them. “And although earlier campaigns sought mainly to blockade clinics, Operation Rescue is fixing its sights on physicians and other workers who are likely to see pickets outside their kitchen windows, protesters barring their path to work and ‘wanted’ posters bearing their names and photographs tacked up in public places.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/9/93]
Operation Rescue Abuses Healthcare Oversight Systems And Disregards Health Privacy Laws In Order To Harass Doctors And Patients
Operation Rescue Abuses 911 Calls From Abortion Clinics In Order To Harass Doctors. “Today, the New Mexico State Medical Board ruled that Dr. Shelley Sella, a doctor with Southwestern Women’s Options and target of anti-abortion extremists, committed no negligence or wrongdoing in a case where a patient experienced complications during her abortion. The complaint against Dr. Sella was originally filed in 2011 by Operation Rescue (OR) Senior Policy Advisor Cheryl Sullenger, … ‘This is a familiar tactic Operation Rescue has used in other states,’ said ACLU-NM Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives. ‘When an abortion clinic calls 911, Operation Rescue files a complaint with the state medical board in an attempt to bully and harass doctors. It’s a shame that out-of-state extremists feel that they can abuse and politicize our system of medical oversight to satisfy their political agendas.’” [ACLU, 2/7/13]
Operation Rescue Uses Public Records Tactics To Violate Medical Privacy Laws. “In recent years, abortion opponents have become experts at accessing public records such as recordings of 911 calls, autopsy reports, and documents from state health departments and medical boards, then publishing the information on their Web sites … In St. Louis, for example, an Operation Rescue staff member is suing the city’s fire department for 911 call logs and recordings from a Planned Parenthood clinic. The city says releasing the requested information would violate a federal patient privacy law.” [ProPublica, 8/25/15]
Operation Rescue Senior Vice President Cheryl Sullenger Has Admitted That Operation Rescue Digs Through Abortion Clinic Trash Cans, Stealing Patients’ Health Records In Order To Harass Them. “There, abortion opponents dig through the trash in search of patient information. Using garbage as their ammunition, anti-abortion activists—who have sometimes been accused of violating abortion seekers’ privacy—are turning the tables. They claim it’s the clinics that are violating patients’ privacy by discarding medical records in unsecured ways … Sullenger said groups like hers began rummaging through clinics’ trash in part because they were having difficulty getting regulators interested in investigating abortion providers … Abortion opponents are as entitled as anyone else to help themselves to clinics’ discards, Sullenger said. ‘If it’s lying out on the curb, it’s a free-for-all, you know what I’m saying? That’s the way we look at it,’ she said. Operation Rescue filed complaints with Texas regulators based on material found by volunteers in the dumpsters of several Texas clinics in 2010 and 2011. The group collected medical waste, as well as sonograms and documents containing patient names, the names of escorts, dates of abortion, whether the patient had been to the clinic before and the patient’s referral source, among other things.” [Texas Public Radio, 8/27/15]
Operation Rescue Coordinated With Anti-Abortion Groups To Violate The Medical Privacy Of An Abortion Patient. “A woman who died after leaving the West Alabama Women’s Center (WAWC) abortion facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on May 7, 2020, has been identified through her autopsy report as 29-year-old April Lowery. The report was obtained by the CEC for Life on behalf of a coalition of national and local pro-life groups that also includes Operation Rescue, Life Legal Defense Foundation, and Pro-Life Tuscaloosa.” [Operation Rescue, 3/15/21]
Operation Rescue Has Tried To Systematically Harass Abortion Clinic Employees Into Quitting. “Banned by law from blockading clinics as it did in its early days, Operation Rescue has taken its offensive to the front lawns and mailboxes of clinic workers. In Wichita, members of the group rummage through employees’ garbage in search of incriminating information. They tail them around town as they run errands. They picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re standing in line at Starbucks. Operation Rescue is also visiting companies that do business with the clinic and threatening them with a boycott if they don’t sever their ties with the facility.” [Rolling Stone, 6/1/09]
In Order To Open A New Headquarters, Operation Rescue Intentionally Sought Out A Building Housing An Abortion-Providing Clinic—And Promptly Evicted That Clinic
Operation Rescue Purchased The Building Housing One Of Wichita’s Former Abortion Providers And Then Strategically Evicted Them In Order To Set Up Its New Headquarters. “Operation Rescue learned in late April, 2006, that Central Women’s Services had not been able to pay its rent in months, and that the property was for sale. OR’s President, Troy Newman, acted quickly to make an offer on the building through a third party, and specifically requested that the current tenant not be retained. That stipulation was placed into the real estate contract. At that time, Central Women’s Services was an open and functional abortion business. It was later learned that Central Women’s Services had come up with the back rent after the building had entered escrow and asked to continue their rental agreement with the new owner. However, because the property was under contract with the stipulation that CWS would not be allowed to stay, the abortion mill was instead forced to close. ‘We have no doubt that if we had not moved quickly to buy that building, this abortion mill would still be in operation today,’ said Newman.” [Operation Rescue, 2022]
Operation Rescue Spreads Its Hate And Violence Through Its “Truth Truck” Campaign And “Show The Truth” Tour
Operation Rescue Spearheaded The Fearmongering And Deceptive Tactic Of Driving Trucks Around With Images Of Bloody Fetuses. “When Troy Newman would answer the phone at Central Women’s Services in Wichita, Kansas, last summer, there was a lot he didn’t mention. The priests who’d been arrested for blocking the abortion clinic’s door. The ‘truth truck’ parked nearby with its billboard of an aborted fetus … he came up with the idea of pasting bloody fetus photos on the sides of trucks.” [Mother Jones, 3/2007]
Operation Rescue Harasses Abortion Providers, Abortion Seekers, And The General Public With Fearmongering And Deceptive Images Of Fetuses On So-Called “Truth Trucks.” “[Operation Rescue President Troy Newman] says he raises $250,000 a year for Operation Rescue West from 35,000 activists spread out from California to Missouri. Some of the funding supports the “Truth Truck”: a white Isuzu with 211,000 miles on the odometer and color photos of fetal body parts plastered to every surface. Operation Rescue West’s seven paid staff members and dozens of volunteers drive the truck – and three others just like it – coast to coast. They circle outside schools, sports arenas and clinic workers’ homes – anywhere they might draw a crowd. Parents complain that the photos horrify their children. Even some leaders in the antiabortion movement consider Newman’s trucks unnecessarily provocative.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/17/04]
One So-Called “Truth Truck” Driver Was Even Arrested For Depicting “Obscene And Vulgar” Images, Although The Charges Were Later Dropped. “A Georgia prosecutor has dropped a disorderly conduct charge against an anti-abortion activist who was arrested for driving a truck emblazoned with images of aborted fetuses … Police had arrested Robert Dean Roethlisberger Jr., 44, near the Mall of Georgia on the day after Thanksgiving, when he refused to remove images on a ‘Truth Truck’ owned by Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group.” [NBC News, 12/4/07]
Operation Rescue Has A History Of Defending The Murders Of Abortion Providers
Scott Roeder, An Operation Rescue Member Who Previously Met With Troy Newman, Murdered Dr. George Tiller In 2009. “Newman … is the president of Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that ran the multi-decade harassment campaign of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, a campaign that only ended when Scott Roeder, who was an active part of Operation Rescue activities in Wichita, murdered Tiller in his church in 2009. Though Newman immediately distanced Operation Rescue from Roeder after the killing, Amanda Robb reported in Ms. magazine’s spring 2010 issue that Roeder told her he had gone ‘to lunch with Newman and asked him about using violence to stop abortion.’
Robb: What did you say to him?
Roeder: Oh, something like if an abortionist—I don’t even know if it was specifically Tiller … was shot, would it be justified? … And [Newman] said, ‘If it were, it wouldn’t upset me.’” [The Nation, 7/16/15]
Although Operation Rescue Attempted To Dispute Its Connection To Scott Roeder, Evidence Proved Otherwise. “Operation Rescue has maintained that Scott Roeder was not a member of their organization. But evidence of a link between the two that was first inadvertently spotted in local television footage, has now been followed up and confirmed … [I]mmediately after the Tiller shooting, when Scott Roeder was pulled over by police, local TV footage from KMBC captured a glimpse of a small note that was on the dashboard of Mr. Roeder’s car. The note read ‘Cheryl Op Rescue.’ And it had a phone number on it. Cheryl at Op Rescue … is Cheryl Sullenger. She is employed by the anti-abortion group as their senior policy advisor. Ms. Sullenger has now admitted that she did, in fact, have multiple phone conversations with Scott Roeder before Dr. Tiller was killed. Those conversations were about Dr. Tillers [sic]. Operation Rescue maintained and still maintains something that they call “Tiller Watch” on their Web site. Allies of Dr. Tiller in Kansas say that until recently, Operation Rescue also posted online the doctor’s real home address and the address of his church—which, of course, is where Dr. Tiller was ultimately murdered this weekend allegedly by Scott Roeder.” [The Rachel Maddow Show, 6/3/2009]
Newman Publicly Defended The Person Responsible For The Murder Of Abortion Provider Dr. John Britton. “In 2003, Newman issued a press release attacking ‘judicial tyranny’ in the prosecution of Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion doctor [Dr. John Britton] and his bodyguard in Florida, and arguing that Hill, who was executed the same day, should have been able to present a defense of ‘justifiable defensive action.’” [SPLC, 10/27/15]
Newman Even Explicitly Calls For The Execution Of Abortion Providers In His 2003 Book. “[Newman’s 2003 book] ‘Their Blood Cries Out’ is not written in focus-grouped, more moderate language that even activists like Newman are now attempting to use. Instead, it’s an Old-Testament-heavy tirade that calls for the execution of abortion providers, calls women who have abortions ‘murderesses’ and warns of God’s impending judgment on the nation for legal abortion, a judgment that Newman says has already begun through calamities such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the AIDS epidemic.” [Right Wing Watch, 9/14/15]
It’s Been Publicly Speculated That Operation Rescue’s “Wanted” Posters Are Linked To Violent Acts Committed Against Abortion Providers. “Every clinic bombed or burned, and every clinician assaulted or killed, had been previously picketed, targeted or assailed by antiabortion groups like Operation Rescue and the Army of God. Operation Rescue issued ‘Wanted’ posters of abortion providers, often listing their home addresses. Several of the doctors listed on the posters, including David Gunn, George Patterson, John Britton and George Tiller, were killed by anti-abortion zealots.” [Salon, 9/10/13]
The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit Ruled In 2002 That The “Wanted” Posters Represent A True Threat To Abortion Providers. “A federal appeals court in California ruled … that organizations that distributed Old West-style wanted posters identifying doctors who provided abortions had illegally threatened them, and it upheld a jury verdict against the organizations. The defendants, two anti-abortion organizations and a number of individuals, also listed doctors’ names and addresses on a Web site they called the Nuremberg Files. The names of doctors who had been killed were lined through in black; the names of wounded doctors were highlighted in gray. The defendants said they were engaged in political advocacy, while the plaintiffs, four doctors and two health clinics, maintained that the speech in question encouraged violence against abortion providers.” [New York Times, 5/17/02]
Operation Rescue Threads False Narratives By Using Hidden Cameras To Record and Heavily Editing Footage In Its “Sting Operations”
Operation Rescue Has Used Hidden Cameras To Harass Abortion Providers And Patients In Dangerous “Sting Operation” Campaigns. “Operation Rescue, the extremist group that has been accused of encouraging the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, has employed [hidden cameras] since the 1990s … Sometimes, the sole aim of the recording is to humiliate and terrify the person caught on tape. Such was the case earlier this spring when Operation Rescue president Troy Newman called one of the doctors who is reopening Tiller’s clinic in Kansas despite death threats. He posted the conversation on his organization’s site, gleefully pointing out that the young woman had ‘been hoping not to be mentioned by name.’ Protestors seeking to frighten and harass patients as they enter clinics have also been known to take videos to add to their victims’ sense of stigma and shame.” [New Republic, 5/10/13]
In 2014 Operation Rescue Published A Book That Detailed The Multiple Levels Of Harassment Involved In Its “Sting Operations.” “A version of [the anti-abortion] ‘informal playbook’ was put into writing by Newman and his Operation Rescue colleague Cheryl Sullenger in their book ‘Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time,’ published by the far-right outlet WorldNetDaily. In it, Newman and Sullenger … outline for anti-choice activists how they can collect information on abortion providers, make it public, and use it to try to drive providers out of business and convince legislators to try to do the same. Newman and Sullenger review various tactics for anti-choice activists looking to gather information on abortion providers, including public records requests, sting operations like the one behind the recent Planned Parenthood videos, and collecting information on vendors who work with abortion providers in order to harass them into ending their association … ‘Photos that show the victim on a gurney being taken from the abortion clinic are useful and dramatic,’ the activists write in a list of tips for sidewalk counselors. ‘Submit a FOIA request for the 911 audio file and CAD transcript of the call as soon as possible,’ they add. ‘Don’t be worried about compromising a patient’s privacy when taking photos, because faces can be blurred using editing software before they are published,’ they advise … Newman and Sullenger also provide guidance for “stings” such as that conducted by David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, for whom Newman seems to have served as a mentor and funder … [T]hey offer a biblical justification for using false identities to investigate a ‘godless enemy’: ‘Some have no problem whatsoever stretching the truth to a godless enemy who is bent on destroying innocent lives — especially if it can be used to save babies.’” [Right Wing Watch, 8/26/15]
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman Conspired With Center for Medical Progress In A 2015 Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood
Newman Collaborated With Anti-Abortion Extremist David Daleiden In The 2015 Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood. “The group of anti-abortion activists who call themselves Center for Medical Progress have a long history of stopping at nothing in their extreme agenda to ban abortion and block women’s access to health care. In addition to faked, heavily edited videos, the group set up a fake company and fake identities, and [Center for Medical Progress founder] David Daleiden, who appears in the videos, recently came under fire for using a grieving mother’s photo of her stillborn son without her permission and trying to pass it off as an abortion.” [Planned Parenthood, 10/21/15]
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Affiliates Filed A Sweeping Lawsuit in The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. “Planned Parenthood mounted a legal counterattack Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who used covertly taped videos to accuse the organization of trading in aborted baby parts, charging in a federal lawsuit that ‘anti-abortion extremists; had engaged in a three-year ‘complex criminal enterprise.’ The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, was brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its seven California affiliates. The named defendants include the Center for Medical Progress (the anti-abortion group that made and released the videotapes); its director, David Daleiden, who appeared under an alias in many of the videos; Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, who is accused of helping to plan the elaborate deception; and others who played roles in a sham medical company … The 65-page suit states that the defendants set up a fake company called BioMax Procurement Services, and claimed to be part of a legitimate provider of fetal tissue to researchers. With fake identities, the suit charged, the defendants gained access to closed meetings of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, then violated signed nondisclosure agreements as they wore hidden cameras and recorded hundreds of hours of conversations.” [New York Times, 1/14/16]
The Smear Campaign Is One Example Of Operation Rescue Infiltrating Clinics With Hidden Video Cameras and Posting Footage to Spark Violence. “[Newman] suggests ‘send[ing] a team into [a] clinic with a hidden video camera … This requires a team that is good at role-playing, as well as specialized video cameras that are undetectable during the personal interview. We have used cameras that look like ballpoint pens and small ‘spy cameras’ that can be hidden in a purse.’ These ‘sting’ operations, and the video footage they generate are then posted on anti-abortion websites and circulated on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media. The videos reliably elicit extreme reactions and lead to further threats of violence. In one example, Operation Rescue staff members pretended to be patients to make secret recordings of an abortion provider in Maryland. The recordings are still posted on YouTube, yielding comments such as ‘Please someone just shoot the f***ers!! That’s the only way they stopped tiller.’ In another example from 2013, Newman pretended to be a reporter so that he could interview an abortion provider who was planning on providing abortion care at a Kansas clinic. Even though the provider stated ‘I had been hoping not to be mentioned by name’ because she was scared of ‘crazy people with guns,’ Newman secretly taped the conversation and published it online, along with the provider’s name.” [Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. et al v. Center for Medical Progress et al, Case No. 3:16-cv-00236, 1/14/16]
Operation Rescue Receives High-Profile Support And Amplification From Senator Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz Named Operation Rescue As National Co-Chair Of “Pro-Lifers For Cruz” During Cruz’s 2016 Presidential Campaign. “During a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s created an anti-abortion group that will ‘champion every child, born and unborn. The Pro-Lifers for Cruz coalition already has more than 17,000 members, according to a press release, and will be chaired by Tony Perkins, the anti-LGBT president of the Family Research Council … Also heading up the coalition are 11 anti-abortion co-chairs ‘representing virtually every perspective on the pro-life spectrum. One of those perspectives is that of Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue.” [Mother Jones, 1/29/16]
Ted Cruz Praised Operation Rescue As “One Of The Leading Pro-Life Christian Activist Organizations In The Nation.” “One of those perspectives is that of Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue and a board member of the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the debunked Planned Parenthood videos, whose founder David Daleiden was recently indicted for alleged crimes in connection to the videos. In his announcement on Wednesday, Cruz called Newman’s group ‘one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation.’” [Mother Jones, 1/29/16]
Operation Rescue Has Been Accused Of Manipulating And Paying Off Norma McCorvey—The Original Anonymous Plaintiff In Roe v. Wade—To Become An Anti-Abortion Activist
Before Her Death, Norma McCorvey Revealed That She Was Paid To Be A Spokeswoman For The Anti-Abortion Movement. “Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion throughout the United States, said she had later spoken out on behalf of the anti-abortion movement only because she was paid to do so, according to a new documentary [‘AKA Jane Roe] … She said that her support for the anti-abortion movement in the later years of her life had been an act. ‘I was the big fish,’ Ms. McCorvey says in the documentary, which was filmed in the last few months of her life and was directed by Nick Sweeney. ‘I think it was a mutual thing,’ she says. ‘I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say.’ She adds, ‘I am a good actress.’” [New York Times, 5/19/20]
Operation Rescue Has Been Accused Of Manipulating And Paying Off Norma McCorvey, The Original Anonymous Plaintiff In Roe v. Wade, To Become An Anti-Abortion Activist. “In 1995, McCorvey returned to the national spotlight as an evangelical Christian and a vocal opponent of abortion rights. Her religious conversion, however, may not have been fueled by faith but instead by opportunity. McCorvey was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Operation Rescue, now known as Operation Save America [another anti-abortion organization that splintered from Operation Rescue], according to a documentary premiering Friday on FX and Saturday on Hulu … ‘What we did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up,’ says the Rev. Rob Schenck, who says he wants to set the record straight by publicly admitting for the first time that McCorvey was paid to pose as an anti-abortion rights activist.” [NBC News, 5/19/20]
“AKA Jane Roe” Reveals Tax Documents Showing More Than $450,000 In Payments To McCorvey. “[C]onservatives had a field day in the mid ’90s when the assertive, media-savvy pro-choice advocate and activist McCorvey became an anti-abortion born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, Reverend Flip Benham (of the infamous Operation Rescue) [now of Operation Save America, a splintered organization] and Reverend Rob Schenck … [Schenck] also confirms that she was “coached on what to say” in her anti-abortion speeches. Benham denies McCorvey was paid; Schenck insists she was, saying that “at a few points, she was actually on the payroll, as it were.” AKA Jane Roe finds documents disclosing at least $456,911 in “benevolent gifts” from the anti-abortion movement to McCorvey.” [The Daily Beast, 5/19/20]
Operation Rescue’s Involvement In Center For Medical Progress’ Smear Campaign Against Planned Parenthood Stoked Anti-Abortion Lawmakers, Who Further Corroded Reproductive Rights And Fueled Anti-Science Sentiment
Operation Rescue And Center For Medical Progress’ Propaganda Contributed To The Domestic Gag Rule During The Trump Administration. “[The] videos advanced two prime goals of the anti-choice movement: defunding Planned Parenthood and further stigmatizing abortion and medical research that uses fetal tissue. The smear campaign, released through an anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), did extensive political damage to Planned Parenthood, offering pretext for anti-choice lawmakers to use the power of government against the health-care provider. The 2015 release of the CMP propaganda videos spurred investigations and attempts to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates in states with Republican-majority legislatures. Republicans launched similar efforts in Congress, demonizing abortion care providers and attacking researchers who use fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has since been forced out of the Title X family planning program after the Trump administration implemented anti-choice restrictions for clinics receiving Title X funds.” [Rewire News, 9/9/19]
Legal And Financial
The I.R.S. Revoked Operation Rescue’s Tax-Exempt Status For Violating Prohibitions Against Electioneering
In 2004, The I.R.S. Revoked Operation Rescue’s Tax-Exempt Status For Violating Prohibitions Against Electioneering As A Non-Profit Organization. “The Internal Revenue Service this week revoked the tax exemption of an anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue West, after receiving a complaint that it had violated prohibitions on electioneering by nonprofits in 2004. The group had promised tax deductions for contributions to help defeat the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry.” [New York Times, 9/15/06]
However, Operation Rescue Seemed Glib About Paying Attention To The Ruling, Seeking Loopholes Rather Than To Follow The Law. “The organization said the agency’s ruling would have little impact on its operations. ‘We have reorganized as simply Operation Rescue,’ said Cheryl Sullenger, the group’s outreach coordinator. ‘Losing our tax exemption doesn’t have much of an effect on us, one way or the other.’” [New York Times, 9/15/06]