Associated Press cited Operation Rescue president without noting group's controversial history

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

In a July 7 article about Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-PA) role in the debate over the current Supreme Court vacancy, the Associated Press juxtaposed a quote from Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, with one from National Organization for Women (NOW) president Kim Gandy, falsely suggesting that the two groups are comparable by omitting Operation Rescue's history of extremist tactics and incendiary rhetoric. Operation Rescue has organized confrontational protests of abortion clinics, and the group's founder has endorsed the execution of abortion providers. NOW represents more than 500,000 contributing members with 550 chapters in all 50 states.

Under founder and anti-abortion extremist Randall Terry's leadership, Operation Rescue staged aggressive protests of abortion clinics in the late 1980s, including "screaming and pleading with pregnant women to turn away," "toss[ing] their bodies against car doors to keep abortion patients from getting out" and "wav[ing] crucifixes and scream[ing] 'Mommy, Mommy' at the women" [The Washington Post, 4/22/04].

The New York Times reported on August 14, 1993, that "[i]n his radio appearances, Mr. Terry said of [abortion provider] Dr. [Warren] Hern: 'I hope someday he is tried for crimes against humanity, and I hope he is executed.' " The Times added that "Coming just five months after an anti-abortion protester [Michael Griffin] shot and killed the doctor [David Gunn] in Florida, Mr. Terry's words were construed by many abortion rights groups as a call to violence." According to an August 7, 1994, report on CBS' 60 Minutes, Terry entreated his followers "to pray for either the salvation or the death" of Hern.

For more information on Operation Rescue, which is also interchangeably known as Operation Save America, see here.

From the Associated Press report, which juxtaposed Operation Rescue's Newman with NOW's Gandy:

Social conservatives demanded that Senate GOP leaders deny Specter the chairmanship. Only his extraordinary public pledge to give Bush's nominees quick hearings and early votes, regardless of their views on abortion, spared Specter the ignominy of a chairmanship denied.

Troy Newman, president of anti-abortion Operation Rescue, said he thinks the compromise means Specter will let a nominee get through the committee even if the individual opposes abortion.

"We trust he will keep his word, he'll bring these nominations up for a vote and get it moving," Newman said. "That's what our understanding was, those were the promises made to the conservative Republican caucus."

The deal has stirred liberals' fears that Specter will not work to block an anti-abortion rights nominee from securing a seat on the Supreme Court.

"As someone who in the past has been a champion of individual rights and liberties and civil rights, everyone is waiting to see whether he will allow party loyalty to trump four decades of civil rights law," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women.

Posted In
Government, The Judiciary, Health Care, Reproductive Rights
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