Clearing the Media Smokescreens

What’s Behind the Pro-Abortion Rhetoric

“He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he has made.
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.”

- Psalms 7:15,16 -

Until recently, the pro-abortion activists of America were content to decry the political and social efforts of the pro-life resistance. The non-violent activities of Operation Rescue groups in closing down abortion clinics were belittled as “ineffective.” Pro-life campaigns – such as Spring of Life in Buffalo, Summer of Purpose in Baton Rouge, Summer of Mercy in Wichita and Cities of Refuge in seven cities across America – were labelled “Operation Fizzle.”

To get their point across, abortion advocates used (as Randall Terry terms them) “the self-inflated ideological lap dogs of the death industry” – the liberal media. The strategy of the pro-abortion camp was to portray the rescue movement as being a bothersome yet futile fringe group. The liberal media quoted other pro-life leaders as saying that Operation Rescue was counter-productive to their cause. If the pro-life camp could be portrayed as divided against themselves, pro-aborts thought, they could be easily conquered.

But now everything has changed. The “oppressive anti-choice Reagan/Bush regime” has been defeated. Bill and Hillary are in the White House. The abortion advocates have a solid pro-death president, who signed five executive orders on his first day on the job making child-killing easier and more profitable than ever. In one stroke of the pen, our nation’s president gave the abortion industry five hundred million dollars and legalized medical experimentation on live fetuses.

They ought to be happy. But they are not. A type of schizophrenia has set in. Rescue groups which were previously dismissed as “ineffective” and “counter-productive” and which had “fizzled” are now being labelled as a serious threat to the death industry. Pro-abortion activists now derisively label rescue groups as the “Green Berets” of the pro-life movement. In other words, they are viewed as the shock troops who are getting the job done. Suddenly, the same people who hailed Bill Clinton as their messiah are worried about the ineffectiveness of his pro-abortion legislation. What good are pro-abortion laws if there are no doctors who will perform abortions?

Even the pro-death media have begun to realize that despite all their previous rhetoric to the contrary: “The anti-abortion activists may be winning.“1 So the strategy has changed. The rescue movement is no longer portrayed as ineffective. Suddenly it has become an “orchestrated strategic campaign of terror.“2 Time magazine claimed that Operation Rescue National used “a sophisticated array of technology“3 in fighting abortion. The media has frequently claimed that ORN is a well-funded, highly-organized and technologically advanced paramilitary force. In reality, fewer rescues are being staged and the total number of arrests nationwide are down. Yet the abortion advocates are “frightened, scared, and terrorized” by a campaign of what they term “harassment and intimidation.”

The truth is that the pro-life side is making progress against abortion because of dedicated servants who stand day-by-day in front of abortion clinics and counsel women not to have their babies slaughtered. They are winning because of the peaceful efforts of people who maintain their first amendments rights to free speech and demonstrate peacefully in exposing abortion for what it is: child killing.

In reading this, you may be asking: “What makes this guy such an expert? How can he speak with such authority about what really happens in front of abortion clinics?”

For one thing, my new address is 1575 Dixie Way, Melbourne, Florida – otherwise known as the “Green House.” This is the house directly across the street from 1564 Dixie Way, otherwise infamously known as the Aware Woman Killing Center. I have been here since September 1st, producing The Forerunner out of a home office. Almost everyday I observe the activities of sidewalk counselors and prayer supporters.

The front lawn of the Green House may be the pro-life media capital of the world. I have encountered reporters on Dixie Way from the local news to CNN to the BBC to German and Japanese television. These reporters most often show up for a few minutes, take a few photos, shoot some videotape, get a few quotes and then rush off to spout their pro-death rhetoric.

But my perspective is unique. I live here. I see what really happens day-to-day. I read and view the media reports sensationalizing the activities to the point of surrealism. The most outrageous report thus far was by Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone magazine. In a lengthy, caricatured, Dali-esque article, Rolling Stone portrayed Aware Woman owner Patricia Baird-Windle as a suffering saint and “one of the most persecuted women in America.” Local pro-life leaders were painted as a movement led “almost entirely by white men” who “fit the Son of Sam profile.“4

The most disheartening media coverage, however, has not come from magazines such as Rolling Stone, but from Christian publications whose style resembles more that of the National Enquirer than of reputable journalism. Some Christian journalists have relied almost solely on second-hand news reporting and sound-bites of pro-life leaders taken out of context by the liberal media. It has been discouraging to me to hear and read bad reports of the rescue movement by fellow Christians.

A Personal Testimony

This is the reason I first came to Melbourne – to see for myself what was really happening here. I wanted to get to know the pro-life leaders on a personal basis and find out first hand what their character was like. What I have found is that the Rescue movement has changed little from the time when I first took part in pro-life activities in 1989 in Brookline, Massachusetts. The only major difference is that the movement has concentrated more on training leaders and has produced more focused and diversified ministries.

This has been my experience – God used my participation in Operation Rescue to call me into ministry through writing for The Forerunner. My first articles as a contributing editor in 1989 dealt with my thoughts and experiences from having taken part in several rescues in the Boston area. In the years that followed, I covered the abortion issue and the activities of the rescue movement frequently in The Forerunner. But my personal “activism” in pro-life did not extend beyond this.

That was until 1993, when I began to find that many Christian leaders who were previously favorable to Operation Rescue were beginning to back off their supportive stance. This was undoubtedly due to the biased media coverage which portrayed the rescue movement as being “violent, intolerant, extremist and arrogant.”

Understanding that “the fear of man is a snare,” I came to Melbourne to meet pro-life leaders Bruce Cadle and Keith Tucci. I found them to be extremely friendly, hospitable and approachable people. At that time, the IMPACT training school – a 12-week discipleship course attended by 22 local and national leaders – was in full swing. The first day I arrived, I was allowed to sit in on one of these supposedly “secret” training sessions. I had lunch with Keith and some of the IMPACT students. Bruce later invited me to his house late that afternoon for pizza where we discussed revival and reformation for about an hour before an evening pro-life rally.

Dr. David Gunn, a Pensacola abortionist, had just been shot a few weeks before this. Although this was an tragic occurrence, it was totally unrelated to the IMPACT training school. According to Keith Tucci, rescue leaders received numerous death threats after Gunn’s murder. Death threats against the non-violent pro-life leaders in Melbourne were never reported by the national media.

I later took part in the April 10th demonstration in front of the Aware Woman clinic and was arrested for violating a court ordered injunction against pro-lifers. I spent the next seven days in the Brevard county jail with Keith Tucci and a several local leaders. Not only did I get to see the character of these people up close for an extended time period, but the jail time itself was a life transforming experience. For several months, I had been considering moving to another city. When I found out that Keith was going to make Melbourne his permanent base and pastor a church in town, I began to seriously consider moving to Melbourne as soon as the lease was up on my Orlando apartment.

Providentially, the house across the street from the Aware Woman clinic had been purchased by a Melbourne area resident and leased to the pro-life community shortly before the injunction was issued. This allowed sidewalk counseling to go on unhindered on the opposite side of the street during the months when the injunction stood. The first time I entered the “Green House” was April 18th, the day after I was released from Brevard county jail. As I surveyed the layout of the house, I had the strange idea that I might be living there someday. I didn’t realize at the time that this thought had been divinely implanted.

I became a part of New Life Family Church, pastored by Keith Tucci, when it began in June. By this time, I had completely forgotten about my passing idea for the Green House. The local pro-life leaders are seeking a variance that would allow them to open up a crisis pregnancy center directly across the street from the killing center. Knowing that I was looking for a place to live in Melbourne, a local leader asked me: “Why don’t you move into the Green House?” Until renovation begins on the house sometime in 1994, I will be living on the location of “pro-life media capital of the world.”

Examining the Issue of Violence

Even though media spokesmen for Operation Rescue have denounced violent acts from the very beginning of the movement, many believe that Operation Rescue National and other rescue groups are somehow responsible. This is a question that needs to be examined objectively:

Has there been an increase of violence due to the influence of Operation Rescue?

According to statistics compiled by a pro-abortion group, the National Abortion Federation, overall violence has decreased since the appearance of OR. The peak of violent acts against abortuaries and clinic workers was from 1984 to 1986 when there was a rash of fires and bombings. Since 1987, when rescue events began to become more common place, there has been an overall decrease of violence against clinics and abortionists.

Undoubtedly, the reason for this is that rescue events give people a non-violent outlet to oppose abortion at the place where the killing goes on otherwise unhindered. People who felt strongly that they needed to stop the physical act of abortion were given an outlet. Without this outlet, some of these same people may have turned violent. This was the case before Operation Rescue appeared.

Recently, however, there has been an increase in violence. There are indeed a “fringe element” among pro-lifers who have turned more violent. The federal government and court ordered injunctions have begun to clamp down on demonstrations in front of abortion clinics. The new surge of violence is undoubtedly due to the frustration of singular people. More legislation against pro-life activities in front of abortion clinics will most likely result in more violence. Director of Operation Rescue National Keith Tucci testified to this before a Senate committee in March:

“There is no doubt in my mind that should this State push this sort of legislation, it will be responsible for escalating the confrontation at abortion facilities and for some to resort to abusive acts. This Senate and House will send a horrid message to the pro-life community. The message will serve as a match in a tinderbox. The message will be one of tremendous contempt and spite. And, the message will be devoid of any balm for the wounds inflicted on our national community by Roe v. Wade.“5

The distortion invented by abortion advocates and propagated by the liberal media that pro-life activists are violent terrorists will only serve to exacerbate and not ameliorate the problem of violence. It is the fruition of the blatant disrespect for human life fostered by a pro-death ideology. Like the “enemy” in Psalm seven, the mischief and violence promoted by the pro-abortion camp will descend upon their own heads.

The Myth of Neutrality

The greatest contributor to the problem of violence is the sensationalistic coverage of the abortion issue by the liberal media.

“What most Americans know – or think we know – is what we have been told by the media. Few of us have arrived at our position on abortion by careful research. Rather, we have accepted whatever we have been told. For years the pro-choice position has had a hotline to our brains. By reading newspapers and magazines and watching television, we have all earned the equivalent of a doctorate in pro-choice thinking.“6

One of the greatest myths propagated by the media is that they are unbiased on the abortion issue. There is no such thing as neutrality when dealing with moral issues. Jesus said, “He who is not for me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). With any moral issue, there are only two sides: the side of Jesus Christ and the side of the devil. On the abortion issue, the liberal media has taken the side of the devil.

The Los Angeles Times, for instance, required its writers to use pro-abortion terminology. David Shaw of the LA Times gives many illustrations of media bias on abortion in a study conducted in 1989: “Abortion opponents are often described as ‘militant’ or ‘strident.’ Such characterizations are seldom used to describe abortion-rights advocates, many of whom can be militant or strident – or both.“7

If objectivity is defined as truth, then a journalist could report the facts of current events in the context of the moral Law of God. For instance, imagine a television reporter covering events from a biblical perspective:

“This is so-and-so reporting live for CNN in Melbourne, Florida. We are here live at the Aware Woman Center for Choice where 20 abortions have been performed today. On either side of the street we have activists promoting both sides of the issue. There are about 40 people demonstrating in favor of life and 17 people defending the clinic’s ability to perform abortions. Standing beside me is Patricia Baird-Windle owner of the abortion clinic. Patricia, can you justify abortion when there are so many people here who believe that it is the killing of unborn infants?”

Both sides would be given equal time to present their argument live with no sound-bites. The reporter may be objective in her presentation of the facts. Instead of referring to the “right to abortion” and the “orchestrated campaign of intimidation and harassment by anti-abortion protestors,” the reporter would merely state the facts in light of biblical truth. The fact that abortion is murder; that it is child-killing; that the pro-choice ideology also spells death for unborn babies will never be hidden because it is an immutable fact sustained by the objective truth of the Word of God.

Removing the Smokescreens

The Bible portrays Satan as “the father of lies” and as a thief who comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” So we shouldn’t be surprised when we see pro-abortion media using the methods of the devil to portray the pro-life movement.

The smokescreens offered up by the media are contrived to keep the focus off the issue of the life of the unborn child. Instead of dealing with the issue of abortion there is the attempt to put the emphasis on alleged “violence” and “oppression” against abortionists, clinic owners and women seeking an abortion. Christians may counter various smokescreens by not being drawn into the argument on pro-death terms, but focusing instead on biblical truth.

Smokescreen #1 – There is a growing persecution of abortion doctors.

The Truth – Abortionists are murderers. If our society’s laws recognized that the Bible equates child-killing with one of the most detestable acts in the sight of God, then this would not even be an issue. Abortionists would be tried and punished for their murders.

Smokescreen # 2 – All the violence has been carried out by the pro-life side.

The Truth – Just within the past year, two Christian ministers who were vocal about their pro-life views were murdered by people who were pro-abortion. There have been numerous instances of death threats and violence directed at pro-lifers. At rescue events nearly all of the people who are arrested are pro-life activists peacefully blocking a clinic door. Whenever a pro-abortion demonstrator is arrested it is usually due to an act of violence on a pro-lifer or on a police officer. There are numerous documented incidences of police brutality against rescuers. The liberal media has not shown this.

Smokescreen # 3 – The shootings of abortionists Tiller and Gunn were not spontaneous acts or isolated incidents.

The Truth – They were.

Smokescreen # 4 – Those who take part in rescue events are extremists and religious fanatics from the fringe element.

The Truth – Rescuers make up a broad spectrum of Christians and form a widely varied demographic. Most rescuers are arrested for the unborn once or twice a year on average, and fill their time with many other pro-life efforts, such as crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life education, literature distribution, sidewalk counseling, picketing, boycotts, political action, Life Chain and many other activities.

Smokescreen # 5 – The pro-life movement is led almost entirely by men.

The Truth – More women than men oppose abortion. According to a 1989 New York Times poll, 59 percent of women opposed abortion while only 46 percent of men opposed it. The great majority of pro-life workers are women. The staffs of groups such as Right to Life, Birthright, Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Operation Rescue National are made up of a majority of women. Pro-life rallies are attended by a majority of women with a heavy representation of youth and children. Even if this accusation were true, men ought to be able to take leadership. The killing of the unborn is a moral issue, not a gender issue.

Smokescreen #6 – At least two-thirds of Americans are pro-choice.

The Truth – In poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans have indicated that abortion, in up to 98 percent of the cases should be restricted. A poll conducted March 27-29, 1989, by The Boston Globe showed that most Americans would ban the vast majority of abortions performed in this country. Seventy-two percent said they would allow abortion in no circumstances or limit abortion to the circumstances that make up less than three percent of all abortions.

Smokescreen # 7 – It is unfair to bring “unwanted children” into the world.

The Truth – One and a half million married couples want to adopt children, yet these “unwanted children” are short in supply. Perhaps abortion is in part responsible for the occurrence of “black market babies,” a practice in which children are kidnapped by underworld organizations and sold to couples who are unable to adopt. The concept of “unwanted children” needs to be eradicated from our national consciousness.

Smokescreen # 8 – Abortion is a woman’s fundamental constitutional right.

The Truth – The so-called “fundamental right to an abortion” is based on an extremely flawed interpretation of the 14th amendment. Supreme Court Justice Blackmun stated in an interview with The Village Voice that the unborn are not included in the definition of the word person. Referring to the 14th Amendment, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States … No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of the law,” Blackmun concluded, “So, the word person does not include the unborn.”

The phrase “All persons” does not mean “only those persons”; the term is inclusive, not exclusive. The words “born” and “naturalized” are descriptive terms referring to “persons” – the intent of this amendment was to grant equal rights to all people, and (together with the 13th and 15th Amendments) to abolish slavery. This statement does not define what a person is, but states inclusively (not exclusively) which persons ought to be considered citizens and have the rights of life, liberty and freedom.

If Blackmun’s reasoning was followed, only those born or naturalized in the United States should be considered “persons.” What about those born outside the United States? Are they not considered persons, either? Should illegal aliens be killed the same way that abortionists butcher babies? It is amazing that a man who ascended to such a high seat of power applied such flawed thinking to a decision making process.

These are just a few of the arguments of the pro-death ideology that are easily refuted. The Forerunner recommends as an excellent resource to those who want to arm themselves against the pro-death rhetoric: Pro Life Answers to Pro Choice Arguments, by Randy Alcorn, Multinomah Books, P.O. Box 1720, Sisters OR 97759.

1 ABC-TV’s Day One, October 19, 1993.
2 Ibid.
3 Time, “Camp for Crusaders,” April 19, 1993, p.40.
4 Rolling Stone, “Surviving the Crusades, October 14, 1993, p.60.
5 Testimony of Reverend Keith Tucci, director of Operation Rescue National regarding Senate bill 1714, March 22, 1993.
6 Randy Alcorn, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments (Multinomah Books, P.O. Box 1720, Sisters OR 97759) p.32.
7 Shaw, “Abortion Foes.”

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