Pro-Lifers Receiving Death Threats

The Wichita Eagle ran a front-page story about threats of violence against Operation Rescue and other pro-life groups.

Abortion opponents receive death threats By Tim Potter,
The Wichita Eagle June 19, 2009
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, says the number of threats has increased since the slaying of George Tiller. Three Wichita-based anti-abortion groups say they have received death threats in response to last month’s killing of George Tiller. For years, Operation Rescue has received threats, but the number increased markedly after Tiller’s killing, the group’s president, Troy Newman, said Thursday. Some of the threats have been aimed at anti-abortion activities planned in Wichita this weekend, Newman said. Soon after Tiller’s shooting, police contacted four to five local anti-abortion groups, asking them to contact authorities if they received threats, said Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred.

Allred said police would investigate threats on either side of the abortion issue. “That’s our job… to take a fair and impartial role on this,” he said. For this weekend’s events, off-duty officers have been hired to help provide security, Newman said. It wasn’t clear Thursday whether on-duty officers will be used. The activities will include a prayer vigil Saturday near Tiller’s clinic on East Kellogg. One e-mail referring to this weekend’s activities said there would be “vengeance,” Newman said. Newman said he has received other troubling messages since the shooting. In one, a man said, “You’re dead, punk….” In another, a woman threatened Newman and his family. Newman said he has reported some of the threats to police and that he is taking security measures. “You’re aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are,” he said.

‘Emotions are… high’ Around the nation, anti-abortion leaders have been taking precautions before and after the shooting, said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition. “I don’t want to go into detail, but I know for a fact that numerous pro-life leaders travel with bulletproof vests,” Mahoney said. Wichita is now at the “epicenter” of the fallout over Tiller’s death, he said. A gunman shot Tiller as he was serving as an usher May 31 at his church near Rock Road and 13th Street. “Emotions are running very high in Wichita,” said Mahoney, who said he plans to be at the anti-abortion activities here this weekend. Within hours of the May 31 shooting, Newman said, Allred called to say that authorities were concerned that someone could seek retaliation for Tiller’s death by attacking anti-abortion leaders.

Although abortion opponents have widely condemned the shooting, some of them have been accused of encouraging the attack on Tiller by vocal, often bitter, opposition to doctors performing abortions. Tiller was one of the few doctors nationally providing late-term abortions. Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old who has lived around the Kansas City area and has protested at abortion clinics, has been charged with first-degree murder in Tiller’s death. Mahoney, the Christian Defense Coalition leader, said he has received about 50 death threats over the years but didn’t receive what he would consider a direct death threat after the Tiller shooting – although one man called to say, “You better watch yourself.”

Abortion is an emotional, controversial subject on both sides of the issue, and when you have that kind of emotion… on the fringes of both sides of the divide you’re going to have people who lash out,” he said. Other threats Just a few hours after the Tiller shooting, Mary Wilkinson was answering phones at the Wichita office of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life when she got a call that stunned and scared her, she said. “This person was out of control, emotionally, you could just tell” – speaking in a loud, angry tone about Tiller’s killing, she said. She said she wanted to tell him, “We did not have anything to do with this…. That’s not what this organization is about. We were horrified about it and sad about it. Killing is never the answer.” But the person – it sounded like a man, but she wasn’t sure – wouldn’t let her “get a word in edgewise,” she said. “I hope you’re happy,” the person said. “You’ve killed him. Now I hope somebody comes and kills you all.”

The call prompted David Gittrich, the group’s state development director, to call police and report the threat. At the office, the staff waited for an officer to arrive before they left. “Because of that threat, we decided it was time to go home,” Gittrich said. Wilkinson said she feels optimistic now. “I think things are settling down now,” she said. “I just think the community needs some healing time.” A third Wichita-based anti-abortion group, the Kansas Coalition for Life, also has received threats, said the group’s president, Mark Gietzen. Gietzen said he received three serious threats since the shooting, two of which were “bad enough that I called police,” he said. One person left a text message a few hours after the shooting. The message: “One of you is going to die for what you did to Tiller.”

In another story

Fr. Tom Euteneuer, of Human Life International, describes what he and his organization have encountered.

Question: As an outspoken visible pro-life advocate, you work against the goals of pro-abortion politics and the abortion industry.  In what ways have you been threatened, either written or verbally, with physical harm?

Fr. Euteneuer: In the days when I was more actively doing sidewalk counseling, I was threatened with death twice by abortion clinic workers, threatened with physical harm numerous times by boyfriends and others who accompanied women to the clinic and several times I was assaulted by people in vehicles trying to run me over. The verbal harassment is too numerous and gross to recount, especially when directed against a man of the cloth.

What forms of harassment have you encountered in your work and travels, and which
groups or organizations seem to be sources of intimidation?

Fr. Euteneuer: There has been less harassment in my work with HLI given that I remain mostly in pro-life circles and focus on training and motivating. The anti-lifers are usually in their comfortable air-conditioned offices plotting the destruction of more children and do not harass us too much both because they are cowards and because they don’t need to have direct contact with us.

Several members of our international network who have direct contact with the abortion lobby in their countries do encounter problems however:

  1. In Kenya an abortionist tried to poison our director;
  2. in Mexico, the HLI director found a knife covered with red blood-like liquid stuck in his couch with a message to stay out of abortion;
  3. in Austria the anti-lifers have sued our affiliate (without success) and the city government of Vienna created special laws against them;
  4. in the Philippines there are attacks against the character of our pro-life people and one parliamentarian called for the deportation of HLI’s Dr. Brian Clowes when he did a speaking tour there;
  5. in Ecuador our affiliate leader was threatened with death, satanic graffiti was put on the door of a church against us,  the severed head of a dog was thrown into a church with a desecrated Sacred Host in its mouth.

Question: What specific security steps must you take in order to protect yourself from these attacks?

Fr. Euteneuer: Prayer.

In addition, have you learned of threats or violence to people close to you or in your family?

Fr. Euteneuer: There has only been intimidation of family members like my father who stands in front of the local Planned Parenthood.  It is regular fare: he has insults hurled at him and bottles thrown from cars.

How have these instances of intimidation and violence changed over the years?

Fr. Euteneuer: The violence and intimidation seems to change as political fortunes change: it tends to go from personal to institutional. For example, during the Clinton years the FACE Act was passed to shut down Operation Rescue-type protests; we can expect the same and worse in the Obama Administration. The physical assaults and intimidations will likely get worse also as the forces of death are emboldened by radical laws and policies.

Have threats, intimidation or violent harassment ever come in an open or official capacity?

Fr. Euteneuer: HLI was denied official status at the UN in the late ‘90s due to its strong stance on the life issues. The only other example that I can think of in my case is when the Minister of Health in Zimbabwe officially vetoed my talk to a nursing school in Harare. The incident of Dr. Brian Clowes in the Philippines mentioned above is another example. Other than open criticism in the media, we are more of a grass-roots training and educational organization and under the radar screen of most governments.

Finally, has there been an increase in irrational behavior including threats and violence?

Fr. Euteneuer: The behaviors have always been irrational, but the new element seems to be an occult element that I believe we will see more in the future. “Death-scorts” seem to be more prone to curse and “pray” against pro-lifers probably due to so many of them being involved in New Age and witchcraft. Some of it is overt and some not. The abortion clinic owner in Rockford, IL periodically comes out of his place dressed in a devil outfit, for example. He also puts blasphemous images of Jesus and religion in the window of the clinic. One abortionist in FL some years ago shook blood from his abortion instruments on the pro-lifers after a morning of killing. We will see much more of this in time.

For much more on “Pro-Choice Violence” click here

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