Just one day after plans for a sit-in at House Speaker John Boehner’s office were released, to protest the Republican Congress’ unwillingness to move against abortion, one of the organizers is telling WND the stakes are so high it’s worth the risk of civil disobedience.
And it might not be the last event of its kind, said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and one of the organizers behind the event planned for 11 a.m. EST on March 25 outside Boehner’s office.
“We have to implement a backbone policy for Mr. Boehner,” Newman told WND. “It means we’re serious. We’re willing to take this to another level.”
He noted it’s been 42 years since abortion was decriminalized, and Congress now has the largest pro-life majority since then.
“We expect them to act,” he said. “It’s exactly why the voters put them there. It was in their platform, what they ran on.”
He told WND the civil-disobedience campaign will be launched at Boehner’s office, but it may continue.
WND reported Monday longtime pro-life activist Jill Stanek plans to join with the Christian Defense Coalition for the sit-in.
Congress was supposed to vote earlier this year on a ban on abortion after 20 weeks gestation, but the vote was canceled at the last minute when Boehner apparently was unsure of the support he would get for the plan.
It was a ban that had found approval in Congress earlier, but not only did it not get support this year, it also has not been rescheduled for a vote.
The bill is the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy but includes exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
Stanek, a former nurse, rose to national prominence after confronting then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama over his opposition to legislation that would require medical personnel to take every measure possible to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion.
Newman called the developments in Congress a “slap in the face of the pro-life movement.”
“We want a whole lot more,” he said. “We expect a whole lot from this Congress.”
The GOP expanded its majority in the U.S. House during the 2014 midterm elections and took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in years.
“It’s something that cannot be ignored,” Newman said. “This speaker is weak, his policies are weak, his plan for implementing pro-life legislation is weak.”
He said if it becomes necessary, there may be future events at additional congressional offices.
Such civil disobedience has been used before by the pro-life movement. Some of the efforts by Joe Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League were so effective in the 1980s that abortion advocates took them to court and accused them of racketeering.
It took 28 years and three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court to finish the case – a decision in which the pro-lifers’ actions were vindicated entirely.
However, the extent of the attacks on the Christians, the pressure under which they operated and the fear that such tactics would be launched against more Christians prompted a lower level of such activism.
Civil disobedience, in which someone risks arrest for a cause, also was used effectively by civil rights protesters such as Martin Luther King Jr.
WND’s original report on the Boehner sit-in included an interview with Stanek.
“I, as a nurse at a hospital in Chicago, held an abortion survivor for 45 minutes until he died, and he was 21 weeks old,” she said. “An abortion ban such as this would save babies like I held. This is very real to me. I have actually seen and held the babies that the House is just playing around with willy-nilly right now.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Jill Stanek:
She noted the bill wasn’t given a vote even though the previous GOP-run House had passed it.
“When we protest on March 25, it will have been two months. We’ve been patient, more than measured in our response, more than muted. I, among others, am just not going to stand for this anymore,” Stanek said.
The sticking point in the legislation centered on the exception for rape and incest victims, who would be required to provide a police report of the crime before receiving an abortion. Stanek thinks the exception is a bad idea altogether.
“There should have never been a rape-incest exception to begin with,” she said. “We’re talking about five months along in pregnancy. Certainly by that time, mothers should know that they’re pregnant. And certainly, babies, even if they’re conceived in rape or incest, are innocent victims, too, and shouldn’t be put to death.”
Speaker Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had tapped Republican women to be the face of this legislation, but it was ultimately two GOP women who forced the bill back on the shelf. Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., made it clear at the GOP retreat before the vote that they had problems forcing victims of crime to bring a police report with them to get an abortion.
Stanek said if you’re going to have the exception, not requiring women to present a police report would make the law virtually meaningless.
“Late-term abortions aren’t good for women to begin with, but taking out this reporting requirement would just give a huge loophole to abortionists to check that box every time a woman came in for a late-term abortion and says she’s been raped,” said Stanek, who argued the reporting requirement also makes women safer.
“Making women report their crime to police protects other women from being victimized by these sexual perpetrators and protects the very women themselves against these perpetrators from violating them again,” she said. “Some of these women are victims of incest, and girls are victims of incest. If they don’t have to report the crime, then the evidence is covered up, literally killed when the abortion is committed.”
Stanek said the bill never should have been sidelined.
“They didn’t even take a headcount to see if they had the votes. They had the votes. At the last moment, the chief opponent, Renee Ellmers, said she would vote for the bill, but they just chickened out, and they took advantage of the pro-life movement.”
The protest does carry some legal risks for participants, but Stanek believes the cause is worth it.
“It’s going to be a sit-in,” she said. “We’re going to risk arrest, but this form of civil disobedience is nothing compared to what is happening to these children every day.”
Organizers are inviting pro-life activists from across the nation to join. Speaker Boehner’s office is located at 1011 in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
The name of the event is #FreeTheBan. More information is available at the event’s Facebook page.