Last week, the Kansas-based organization Operation Rescue posted papers from an abortion clinic on their website. The documents were not official patient records, but included names, ages, phone numbers, photocopies of driver’s licenses, sonograms, and other personal identifying information for 86 women and girls who received care in the month of April. While the group was nice enough to redact the names before publishing the documents for all to see, Operation Rescue is still in possession of that information – stolen information, of course.
The group says the papers were delivered by a “confidential informant”. Right before Operation Rescue obtained the documents, a locked trash bin on the clinic’s property was broken into. (So: informant, thief, whatever.) The organization claims that they have proof of all sorts of wrong doing based on the papers, so of course the state is using the “leaked” info as a jumping off point to investigate. . . the clinic. Yes, two people were caught on security cameras stealing trash from the clinic, Operation Rescue admits to being in possession of these stolen documents, yet Kansas decides that the real fishy business here is in what the clinic may have done. And – wouldn’t you know it – the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, which is doing the investigation, just happens to have a former lawyer for Operation Rescue serving on it (who was appointed by the Republican governor).
Portions of the semi-redacted document cache were displayed in a YouTube video by the group which also included images of non-specific bloody refuse which the informant has “gathered” over the last year, as well as video of several women exiting the clinic, presumably following abortion procedures. The man filming narrates, commenting on how the women have to be assisted to the cars. (Perhaps if they didn’t need to have coats over their heads to protect them from being videotaped by some creep they could better see where they’re walking?)
Operation Rescue trades in intimidation tactics like these, attempting to incite fear in women who would seek abortions and doctors who would dare perform them. And the word for that is terrorism. Sure, Operation Rescue won’t publicly show patient names, but they have them. They of abortion doctor hit lists, they of affiliation with doctor murderers.
Cheryl Sullenger, the group’s senior policy adviser, says in one of the articles about the investigation of the Kansas clinic, “It’s no secret we seek information about abortion clinics, […] Americans have the right to know what goes on in these places. It’s not a pretty picture.” She is also quoted saying, “I know way too much about these women.” But no worries! The article ends, “Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said the papers were being held in a secure location and had been offered to authorities.”
‘In the possession of this group’ is not a “secure location”. Cheryl Sullenger herself is a convicted felon for conspiring with her husband to bomb an abortion clinic. Troy Newman moved Operation Rescue from California to Kansas expressly to hound Dr. George Tiller who was eventually assassinated by Scott Roeder. And Scott Roeder had a piece of paper in his car with “Cheryl Op Rescue” and her phone number on it. These are not the people you want having your information. And Kansas is not the state you want defending your right to a legal medical procedure (seriously).
Operation Rescue doesn’t care about any rules that the clinic may have breached, and they obviously don’t care about breaking laws themselves. They just want to scare women. They want make women afraid to get an abortion in Kansas, make them fear that some wacko group might get their hands on their name and other personal information. And Kansas is more than happy to help with their mission of intimidation.