AUCKLAND, New Zealand (FR) – Abortion clinic rescues have been taking place in New Zealand for more than a year – all because one dedicated Christian has decided to give his life for the cause of the unborn. Ross Bolton, 50, a former auto electrician, has made national headlines due to his peaceful demonstrations.
Bolton has styled his protest after the American-based Operation Rescue, directed by Randall Terry, a minister and graduate of Elim Bible Institute in Lima, New York. Like Operation Rescue activists, Bolton and his followers block clinic entrances in order to stop women from obtaining abortions. For his efforts, Bolton has been sent to prison four times, serving over 40 weeks in jail since he started rescues in August of 1987.
One of Bolton’s tactics which differs from Operation Rescue is the use of men over 60 years of age in the clinic rescues. “Older men have little to lose by going to jail for trespassing,” says Bolton. Advertising flyers declare: “Senior Citizens for Junior Citizens … It is a man’s job to defend his nation. It is a special honor for men full of years to offer the remainder (of their lives) to those just beginning.”
Bolton says he has received “incredible resistance” from religious leaders in New Zealand and even lukewarm response from Catholic priests who have been active in many American rescue efforts. During a New Zealand-wide day of rescue, called a “closing down celebration,” only 20 pro-lifers gathered at protest sites in Auckland and Wellington. Bolton said he contacted 100 Catholic priests by letter and only one priest attended the protest at Epsom Day Hospital in Auckland.
The New Zealand press has labeled Bolton a “martyr ready to face jail again.” News stories have circulated throughout New Zealand and press treatment has been respectful. During an interview with Charisma magazine from his jail cell, Bolton said he was puzzled by the lack of support from pro-life pastors in his nation: “When I come to town to visit them, they leave. They refuse to even let me speak with them.” A young man from Wellington, Jeff Waklien, has joined Bolton’s rescue movement but has yet to serve time in jail for his clinic-closing activities. Bolton, his wife, and young son live by donations sent from Christians who read press reports and follow Bolton’s activities in Humanity, a pro-life newspaper which circulates throughout New Zealand.
Mrs. Bolton agrees with her husband’s campaign, but is also hurt by the reluctance of many pastors to participate in clinic rescues. But despite the fact that some people have labeled him a fanatic, a newspaper in Auckland, Dominion Times, described Bolton as “an unlikely protestor, if only because of his very quiet manner.” At least one pro-life leader interviewed said he admired Bolton, and said he not only planned to join his efforts but would also urge others to do the same.
Bolton expects the rescue movement in New Zealand to grow because of strong pro-life organizations which “are beginning to grab hold of what we are doing.” Pro-lifers are following the progress of Operation Rescue in the U.S. and express a growing disgust at the increasing number of abortions being performed in their nation every year. Nearly 9,000 abortions are recorded in the nation of some 3 million inhabitants, up 9 percent over the last year’s figure.
- by Bob Nolte