Kemper: Pro-Life Rescue Movement Was Not About Violence

Opinion   |   Bryan Kemper   |   Oct 24, 2011   |   7:40PM   |   Washington, DC

In a recent article written by Jewels Green, she asks the following question to open her article:

Should breaking the law be advocated to advance the cause for life? Should violence be encouraged, condoned, or celebrated to further the cause for life? No, and no.”

What we see here are two totally separate questions that should not be asked together; this is done to try to tie the two things together, which is unfair. Of course we should not condone violence or celebrate it. The problem is that later in the article you see the author try to tie the civil disobedience in Question 1 with the violence in Question 2.

So lets talk about Question 1: “Should breaking the law be advocated to advance the cause for life?” I want to rephrase this question to go past abortion, as it does say “cause for life”.  The question would then read, “Should breaking the law ever have been advocated to advance causes like the Underground Railroad, hiding Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, the sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement, rescuing young girls trapped in sex slavery, and rescuing children from abortion?”

When we rephrase the question and don’t try and tie the action of civil disobedience to violence, it shines a whole new light on the situation. The fact is that there are way too many times in the history of the world when corrupt governments passed evil, unjust laws that lead to the death, imprisonment and torture of our fellow human persons.  There were also courageous men and women who peacefully broke those laws in order to save lives and change the world.

The author goes on to write:

“Even humorously suggesting a return to the era of blockading entrances to clinics or “occupying” the waiting rooms of abortion clinics leads down the slippery slope to further lawlessness: harassment, intimidation, vandalism, and eventually (and inevitably) violence. These tactics are morally wrong and produce dubious results. What is certain is that breaking the law in an effort to stop abortion tarnishes the movement, alienates those on the fence (or newcomers to the fold), and worst of all—it provides our pro-abortion opposition a speedy on-ramp to the high road and fosters a “comrades-in-arms” mentality that unifies their ranks and galvanizes public opinion in their favor.”

In the late 80s I became involved in the Rescue movement (this is what she refers to as “clinic blockades”). The idea was for pro-lifers to be willing to lay our lives down for the sake of the babies who were being killed inside of those clinics.  We would sit and pray and sing worship songs in front of the doors or in the lobbies and, while we kept the clinics closed for hours at a time, counselors would talk to the women waiting for appointments.

I rescued for about 7 years before the FACE law was introduced and made it a felony to do a sit-in at abortion clinics, and I even participated in a few that challenged the FACE law afterwards.  I spent several stints in jail and was arrested dozens of times.  Not once in my years of rescuing did I ever see any acts of violence.

To say these tactics are morally wrong is to say that Corrie Ten Boom, who hid Jews in her home during the Nazi Holocaust, was morally wrong. It is to say that Harriet Tubman was immoral for founding the Underground Railroad that rescued slaves.  It is to say that Dr. King was wrong for staging sit-ins and organizing marches in the Civil Rights Movement.

She also writes:

“I worked in an abortion clinic that was invaded by law-breakers. Not one pregnant mother chose life for her baby that day twenty years ago when six people attached themselves to a huge metal contraption for seven hours in the waiting room. Abortions were committed in an un-occupied part of the clinic while local law enforcement and FBI agents negotiated with the trespassers. The mood in the clinic that day, which was shared by staff and patients alike, was one of grim—but unwavering—determination. We celebrated continuing abortions during the occupation and were defiant in the face of intimidation.”

I have participated in numerous rescues in which hundreds of babies were saved; in fact tens of thousands of babies lives were saved during the days of Operation Rescue.  Even if it were just one baby saved during the whole movement, all the sacrifice would have been worth it.

She continues:

“There is no way I could have publicly adopted the pro-life moniker in an atmosphere of violence and disregard for law. In the nine months (it’s only been nine months!) since my personal conversion and self-identifying as pro-life I have volunteered, donated, testified, and continue to use my voice to speak up for those who cannot do so for themselves: the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.”

The Rescue Movement was not an atmosphere of violence and intimidation.  Yes, there have been a few “Lone Ranger” anti-abortion fanatics who have used violence, but those were just a few isolated cases, which the Rescue Movement had nothing to do with.

The Rescue Movement was a loving, peaceful movement of Christians who were willing to lay their lives down for their brothers and sisters who were going to die. If it were not for the huge penalties and long jail sentences that have made Rescue a tactic that just does not work anymore, I would still be rescuing. In fact, I have rescued recently in Australia and at least 8 babies were saved that day.

To Jewels Green: As a person who has dedicated more then twenty years of my life to full time pro-life work, spent several weeks in jail for sitting and praying in front of clinics, and sacrificed at least 2 years worth of time on the road away from my family, I am deeply offended by this article.

I am so happy that God has brought you out of the abortion industry and I praise Him for what He is doing in your life. I want to encourage you to continue in this important life-saving work.  I must also ask you to not slam and defame the amazing work done by the tens of thousands of men and women who sacrificed so much as part of the Rescue Movement. If you disagree with us, that is fine, but to publically slam us is uncalled for and is a slap in the face to the pro-life movement. Note:  Bryan Kemper is the president of Stand True Ministries, a pro-life group that reaches out to youth and young adults. He is the author of a new book, Social Justice Begins In The Womb. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of