September/October, 1997 Volume XII Number 8
Operation Rescue draws activists to Ohio;
Proclamations, prayer, protests, and picnics mark a week of activism
by Paul deParrie
Dayton, OH -- A Solemn Assembly of pastors and believers began the mid-July Operation Rescue/National (ORN) "Return to Truth" event.
Nearly a thousand participants gathered at the Sunday July 13 rally in Christ Life Sanctuary to hear proclamations read naming the specific sins of the people and calling for repentance by individuals, churches, pastors, and government leaders. It was a somber beginning to a week of activism and spiritual renewal.
Monday morning, activists from many parts of the country joined Ohio pro-lifers in a rescue at the doors of abortionist Martin Haskell's clinic in Cincinnati. Haskell is the developer of the controversial D&X or "partial-birth" abortion. No arrests were made.
Consistent numbers between 3-400 attended all the week-long series of events -- both evening rallies featuring speakers such as ORN founder Randall Terry, Pat Mahoney, Joe Scheidler, Johnny Hunter and the street events at the clinics. Approximately half of the daily participants were from Ohio and the other half from as far away as San Diego, California and Melborne, Florida.
Pro-abort counter demonstrator numbers were consistent as well. Approximately 20 showed up at each event, chanted loudly, and held signs and banners.
Temperatures in the 80s and 90s kept organizers busy supplying water to rescuers at the Dayton Women's Services abortuary and the Kettering offices of Martin Haskell, Women's Med Center, which were the sites of daily activism during the week.
A rescue at Haskell's clinic on Tuesday netted only four arrests despite hundreds being in place at the doors. Police appeared to give up the arrests and become casual observers of the scene -- much to the dismay of the pro-abortion forces.
Around noon, ORN volunteers arrived with 400 sack lunches for the activists. Soon blankets were spread on the lawn surrounding the clinic and children were playing while adults ate lunch. It was a bucolic contrast to the gray edifice where children are routinely killed.
"Who would have expected this?" said one local activist. "Kettering police are famous for arresting you if you so much as touch the grass here."
Participants praised God for the "picnic at Haskell's." It seemed to some to be a fulfillment of the previous evening's prayer that "God would take back the land from the Enemy."
While several women were turned away by rescuers, it was later confirmed that some women returned for their abortions later in the day.
A rescue on Wednesday, the hottest and most humid day of the week, yielded no arrests as activists blocked the alley behind the Women's Services clinic and the sidewalk in front. Four women out of a usual number of 25 customers a day entered despite rescuers' efforts as they were pulled over the bodies of the seated pro-lifers.
Young people circulated with jugs of water and cups for the activists. The refreshments were offered to the pro-aborts who steadfastly refused.
The Elizabeth Center, a crisis pregnancy center which owns the building next door to the abortuary, extended restroom privileges and allowed weary pro-lifers to come in and enjoy the refuge of their air-conditioned office.
Thursday and Friday saw a shift in the activities. A rejoicing but serious crowd gathered at the former abortuary on South Dixie Highway in Dayton to raise a memorial to God for closing the clinic just two months before. The South Dixie clinic was closed after unsuccessful attempts to replace Thomas J. Mullin, a circuit-riding abortionist who crashed his small plane and died on June 19, 1996 (Life Advocate, September 1996). One of the emergency workers on the site of the crash observed that "there was not enough left of him to put in a cigar box."
"God told him to go to hell, do not pass 'Go,' and do not collect $200," says local activist Joe Rogers. "And he did what he was told."
The memorial -- like Old Testament memorials -- consisted of rocks placed in a pile. One stone was placed by each activist near the front door of the former clinic. The building is now owned by a Christian businessman who said that he intended to make sure that no abortions were ever done in the building again.
From South Dixie, activists followed a caravan downtown to a funeral service for six unborn babies. The children's remains were lying in small, individual caskets made to fit together into a single larger casket for burial.
Rows of folding chairs were set up in front of the platform for family members of the children. The chairs were empty.
After an opening in prayer, three women spoke of their own abortions and the great sorrow and repentance they needed after them.
Pro-aborts chanted at the women derisively, "No guilt! No shame!"
Evidently, though, one woman out in the public square for lunch did feel guilt. She had scheduled an abortion for later in the week but the message of the women on the platform changed her mind and she received the assistance of sidewalk counselors.
Later the pro-aborts followed the procession to the cemetery where they surrounded the wrong hearse and began chanting and beating on the hood of the vehicle. The hearse carried the deceased wife of an elderly gentleman. She was being buried on the same day. Police ejected the pro-aborts from the cemetery.
On Friday, ORN leaders held an Ecclesiastical Court in front of Haskell's Kettering abortuary in which a biblical indictment against Haskell and those working with him was read and imprecatory prayers were prayed.
"We pray that Haskell will repent," said one participant, "but if he doesn't, we are asking God to put a stop to him."
A number of participants said that they are expecting miraculous intervention from God in the near future to deal with the D&X innovator.
After the Court had concluded, activists held a picnic under the trees on Haskell's property for the second time that week.
One local business owner was overheard to complain to a Kettering Police officer, "They're having a picnic on Dr. Haskell's lawn!" To which the officer replied, "It's a nice day for a picnic."
After the meal, the group moved back to Dayton Women's Services on Main Street and blocked the alley and sidewalks again. No women were escorted over the rescuers on this occasion.
"This is the most successful ORN event in years," noted one enthusiastic participant. "The numbers of people involved were consistent, babies were saved, and arrests were at a minimum."
Copyright © 1997 Advocates for Life Ministries