NEW YORK, NY (FR) – Over 1,500 pro-life protesters from 22 different states travelled to New York City in early May of this year, successfully closing down three major medical centers during the day of the highly publicized “rescue.” About 1,300 of the protesters were arrested, including Catholic Bishop Austin Vaughn, 15 Catholic priests, four nuns, two rabbis, and Mark Bavaro, an All-Pro tight end for the New York Giants.
“This demonstrated the range of interfaith solidarity for unborn children,” said spokeswoman Julie Loesch.
The first center closed down was the Herbert Schwartz Clinic, the largest in Manhattan, where abortions are performed up to the second trimester. Queen Women’s Medical Office was closed down for one day along with the Women’s Choice Gynecology Service on Long Island.
Between 300 to 400 children are aborted everyday in New York, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research arm of Planned Parenthood. Loesch said there were other clinics in the area that might have closed down due to the sit-in at the major centers; however, it was hard to determine how many since there have been conflicting reports. “Most clinics would rather close down then draw controversy to themselves,” she said.
Besides closed clinics, one woman decided not to have an abortion and sought aid from Operation Rescue. Loesch said they were pleased with the saved life, but they also want to have an impact on the political process.
“No matter who is elected (in the upcoming presidential race),” Loesch continued, “we’re concerned about what they plan on doing to support poor women. It’s not fair that poor women don’t have any other options offered to them by the federal government besides abortion.”
A New York radio station ran a 24-hour alert for pro-abortion groups on the rescue. However, only 60 pro-abortion demonstrators showed up to counter the rescue effort, according to sources. Pro-abortion leaders also called for a mass rally, but the same 50 to 60 people showed up. They waited 30 minutes for a larger crowd, which didn’t materialize.
Before the rescue, pro-abortion advocates also tried to ban the pro-lifers from coming within 15 feet of any medical center. The requested temporary restraining order was denied. Operation Rescue is currently challenging an injunction filed by abortion activists earlier during that week which penalized the organization $25,000 for sitting on the steps of a clinic. The fine would be earmarked for pro-abortion groups such as the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood.
One of the “rescuers” travelled from St. Louis for the week-long series of sit-ins. Tim Drestie, an auto mechanic, says he has been arrested between 35 to 40 times since he first became involved in the pro-life movement three years ago. “Initially, I saw the movie ‘Silent Scream,’ and it just tore up my heart. It changed my life and I started picketing a clinic.”
Since then, Drestie has participated in about 30 “rescues.” “After picketing, I became whole-heartedly involved in rescues. I’ve participated in rescue missions involving just two people.”
Operation Rescue projected 800 people participating, Loesch related, “and we are exultant over the response.” Randall Terry, executive director of the Operation Rescue, told the Washington Times, “The reason the pro-life movement has not been successful is because it has not created the social tension and upheaval necessary to produce political change.”
Responding to the “extremist” label, he pointed out, “The people sitting here today are moms, and dads, grandmas and grandpas, rabbis and priests. This is middle America.”
Other rescues are planned in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in New Orleans and the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.