This morning, the New York Times reported that extremist anti-choice group Operation Rescue is targeting Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, NM. Operation Rescue is a militant group that has been linked to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. They are currently using misleading and manipulative tactics — as well as legislative avenues, including a pending 20-week abortion ban — in an attempt to shut down the clinic and bar women in Albuquerque from accessing needed abortion care. The group has even gone so far as to stage an offensive protest using the city’s Holocaust Museum, in an attempt to appropriate that tragedy as a means to their own political ends.
Previously, Katha Pollitt detailed Operation Rescue’s targeting of abortion provider Dr. Ann Neuhaus in The Nation. Dr. Neuhaus worked alongside Dr. Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, and lost her medical license as a result of Operation Rescue’s lawsuit, which accused her of keeping incomplete medical records. Pollitt writes:
Dr. Neuhaus was accused of not keeping detailed records for eleven patients ages 10 to 18, all from 2003, and of failing to prove that an abortion was necessary to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” or of the patient’s mental health. Dr. Neuhaus says she kept her records brief to protect the patients’ identities. This was a rational fear: for years, State Attorney General Phill Kline had been trying to seize abortion clinics’ patient records. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who waged a jihad against the man he frequently referred to as “Tiller the baby-killer,” mentioned during a 2006 interview with Kline that he himself had seen records from Dr. Tiller’s clinic.
Dr. Neuhaus is now being forced to pay for the legal proceedings, and NARAL National has been collecting funds to help Dr. Neuhaus her cover those expenses. You can contribute here.
Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, pro-choice residents and leaders of the Jewish community are fighting back. “The fact that they call themselves missionaries is really offensive,” Joan Lamunyon Sanford, director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and a leader of a coalition fighting the 20-week proposal, told the Times. “We don’t need outsiders bringing in this kind of disruption.”
The Times also quoted Randee B. Kaiser, chairwoman of the Holocaust museum’s board, who said, “This protest was misguided and offensive.”
We at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington are currently putting together a care package and collecting notes of support for the providers, staff, and patients at Southwestern Women’s Options, to show that we value the work that they do, and the work of women’s healthcare providers everywhere.
Notes of encouragement can be sent to MeganBurbank@ProChoiceWashington.org. We’ll collect them and send them Southwest Women’s Options as a gesture of support from their Northwest allies.
Together we can take a stand for the women of Albuquerque, and show that harassment and intimidation have no place in healthcare.