Young people are being trained by militant anti-abortion groups to be informed, media-savvy, publicity-oriented foot soldiers in the battle to outlaw abortion.
While old-timers, like Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, are running about the nation’s capital trying to make some noise while the Senate Judiciary committee considers the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor <http://www.religiondispatches.org/tags/sotomayor/> to the Supreme Court and a handful of pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates grapple with some of the so-called “common ground <http://www.religiondispatches.org/tags/common%20ground/> ” raised by President Obama, several longtime anti-abortion groups are out recruiting and training young activists to carry their anti-abortion work well into the twenty-first century.
These days, the anti-abortion banner—and an accompanying set of horrific graphics—is not only being waved on college campuses and at Planned Parenthood and other health care clinics across this country, it recently was on full display in the Dominican Republic.
Earlier this year, as millions eagerly anticipated (or dreaded) the Obama inauguration, a team of anti-abortion activists led by Keith Mason of the Arvada, Colorado-based Personhood USA <http://www.personhoodusa.com/> , Ignacio Reyes, director of the San Jose-based Live Action <http://liveactiononline.org/> , and Jason Storms, founder director of the Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism <http://www.faithfulsoldier.com/> , took off for the Dominican Republic. Their mission was to proclaim the gospel, and to publicly support an anti-abortion addition to the Dominican Constitution. (Unlike some other countries in Latin America where abortion is permitted if the life of the mother is in danger, abortion in the Dominican Republic is illegal <http://dr1.com/articles/abortion.shtml> in all circumstances.)
Since the trip garnered no mainstream media attention and relatively little play in the movement media, a month after returning to the states Jason Storms posted trip details at a blog called “Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism and Discipleship <http://acalltorepentance.blogspot.com/> .”
Upon arriving in the Dominican Republic, the group held a press conference (attended by “twenty media outlets from around the nation”), representing themselves as the Alliance for Life, “a multinational pro-life association with members born in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, as well as the U.S.”
“We made the statement that abortion is murder, it is a violation of the Law of God and is an extreme form of violence against women that MUST remain illegal in the DR!,” Storms wrote. He reported that the team “spoke” at three public high schools, “preach[ed] the gospel, show[ed] graphic abortion videos, talk[ed] about abstinence, purity until marriage, biblical manhood, and hammer[ed] against sin, while principals, teachers, administrators looked on applauding!!!”
Unlike in the United States, Storms pointed out, “No one got angry, no one got offended, no one threw a temper tantrum because we mentioned God in school or showed ‘horrific’ images of what goes on inside the closed doors of abortion clinics.”
The group also “preach[ed]” at a “major prison” and three local churches, distributed almost 60,000 “hard-hitting tracts,” and “saturated the media for a full week.” Two months later Metro Catholic reported that by a 167 to 32 vote, “legislators permanently enshrined the right to life for pre-born humans by rewriting the Constitution of the Dominican Republic with the words ‘the right to life is inviolable from conception until death.’”
Committed Anti-Abortion Activists Reject “Common Ground” and Common Grounders
The Dominican mission’s organizers may be relatively unknown to the public, but they are part of a network of committed activists who reject any notion of “common ground.” Keith Mason’s Personhood USA describes itself as “a grassroots Christian organization founded to establish personhood efforts across America to create protection for every child by love and by law.”
Earlier this month, Personhood USA, along with the American Life League, launched personhood initiatives in Colorado and Montana “seek[ing] the passage of state Constitutional amendments that would define every human being as a human person under state law, from the beginning of their biological development,” an American Life League report declared.
Live Action was founded by anti-abortion celebrity Lila Rose <http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/religiousright/1405/planned_parenthood_‘stung’_by_lila_rose> , who has won major movement support for her surreptitious visits to Planned Parenthood offices where she tries to lure Planned Parenthood volunteers or staffers into counseling her to lie about her partner’s age while posing as a pregnant minor.
Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism is a ministry of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which describes itself as “a short-term evangelism and discipleship training school.”
A former resident of the Dominican Republic and a longtime researcher into the activities of the religious right told me that Mason and Storms were both once involved in Jeff White’s group, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust <http://www.survivors.la/> . White, who has been long involved in anti-abortion battles and is the former head of Operation Rescue California, is the founder of the Survivors, a group that trains young anti-abortion activists to spread the message at college campuses across the country.