By Kevin Gosztola
In Bellevue, Nebraska, pro-choice and pro-women advocates have gathered to support Dr. Carhart and his abortion clinic, as right wing forces begin to escalate a campaign against him.
Nearly 100 people from across the United States, from over 16 states in the US, are in Nebraska to defend Dr. Carhart and his clinic from the anti-abortion movement that has recently designated Dr. Carhart and his clinic as target #1. They are moving to Bellevue Nebraska, site of Dr. Carhart’s clinic, because the previous number one target, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered.
Several organizations, including the Abortion and Contraception Clinic of Nebraska (ACCON,) National Organization for Women (NOW,) the Feminist Majority Foundation, the World Can’t Wait, and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado are here from Friday through Saturday to engage in clinic defense and counter-demonstration.
"We intend to show our support for the legal services that Dr. Carhart provides. Our intention is to have a peaceful presence in order to let people know that attempts to harass and intimidate physicians like Dr. Carhart, who provide an important service to women, will not go unchallenged, " says Nebraska NOW president, Erin Sullivan, "We want to show our support for a woman’s right to choose, for Dr. Carhart’s work, and to show that ACCON should stay open."
Ryan Swanek, director of development for ACCON, has a slogan for why people are coming together this weekend, "Trust women, this slogan of champions Dr. George Tiller and Dr. Carhart, is at the center of our work. We trust women to make the right decisions. We trust women to know what is best for their bodies. We trust women to know that the freedoms awarded to us as citizens of this country are not to be taken lightly. We must stand up, be strong and speak out. We trust women."
When pro-choice and pro-women advocates come out to say they "trust women," we are sending a message to those who would create a climate of violence, fear and shame for women seeking abortion. They are saying they will not let forces come and harass people who are just doing their job and who are conducting a procedure that is protected by law.
This weekend defenders of Dr. Carhart’s clinic expect the right wing presence will grow. Many of the people who will be revamping a campaign to shut down Dr. Carhart’s clinic are the same ones you have seen on your television screen complaining about death panels, lying about health care covering abortion and contraception and going to town halls with the intent of creating disturbances and disruption.
Here at the clinic you can hear pro-choicers chanting, "welcome, this clinic stays open." Pro-choice advocates will not allow anybody or organization to prevent women from having access to the care they have a right to.
The situation is that Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, is targeting Dr. Carhart’s clinic and bringing the same domestic terrorist network that haunted Dr. Tiller in Wichita, Kansas to Bellevue where Dr. Carhart’s clinic is located.
This month Dr. Carhart had his protection from federal marshals revoked by the Department of Justice. His farm was burned down years ago. Death threats and harassment are not new, but what is new is the fact that Tiller is gone and these forces are moving on to their next objective.