There have been many allegations made concerning the war over the name Operation Rescue, and much of the contention seems to revolve around what Operation Rescue is, its mission, and who has the ‘God given right” to use this well known moniker. Currently, Troy Newman has the trademark on the name, and is making a claim that he has been using this name since 1991. Mr. Newman has also made the claim that he has ‘rebuilt’ OR to national prominence, and is following on the original ‘vision’ of what OR is and what made it so formidable.
Since this claim is made, it is fair to take a look at this organization and do a compare /contrast of what it was and what it currently is, and if in fact if it is staying true to the original vision of the founder Randall Terry. The sources of information used will be the book wrath Of Angels, information off of both websites, operationrescuetheft, and Mr. Newman’s website, newsletters from OR/ORW and fundraising letters, as well as personal testimony and experiences of those who have known both men for many years.
Operation Rescue was the brainchild of Randall Terry in1986 and he became very active in his hometown of Binghamton, NY. Relatively unknown, he nonetheless became prominent in the movement in short order, and built upon the legacy of people like John Ryan, John O’Keefe and Joan Andrews Bell. Mr. Terry was able to do what no one else was able to do before, and that was to mobilize thousands against the child killers. Mr. Terry called this movement Operation Rescue, and this movement became nationally prominent from 1987 to 1994, until the Clinton Administration, lead by Janet Reno, passed and used the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) mainly to deter the winning strategy of Operation Rescue. This was Mr. Terry’s impact on the pro life movement, and the lists below are the highlights of Operation Rescue, under its founder and at its pinnacle.
- Took activism to a new level by having thousands in front of multiple abortuaries in several cities simultaneously.
- 70,000 arrests over the span of 1987-1993, the most ever recorded in national history for a non violent movement.
- 40 + Affiliate offices throughout the country.
- Linked the gospel and scriptures to action and able to mobilize the evangelical world to the movement
- Changed the way law enforcement dealt with the large number of non violent protestors.
- FACE law enacted as a direct result of OR tactics, changing national laws.
- Politicians being held accountable for their pro life stances, and fearing rejection by this organization if wayward in their word.
This was the mission and the goals of Operation Rescue as envisioned by its founder Randall Terry, and it was very successful until the myriad of law suits by planned parenthood and others, as well as the FACE law, effectively broke the back of the movement. Mr. Terry saw this organization as a national movement; with thousands of pro lifers all over the United States fighting in their communities and operating under the Moniker of Operation Rescue (name your city/state). There was no issue concerning trademarks, as everyone at the time was very aware of who started the movement and who was responsible for the exponential growth.
Mr. Terry owned the name Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue was the title of his book. Operation rescue never was a not for profit corporation with a board. Why not, you ask? It was Mr. Terry’s intention to shield these leaders by having a loose association, and not having the organization in a formal structure, in which others could have been sued, and lose everything, as Mr. Terry has.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Newman’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the history of Operation Rescue during its heyday, nor does it appear he was involved in the movement in at least any leadership role until much later.
The name of Operation Rescue was used by many people; it was understood that it was permissible to use this moniker by adding a city or state behind it, such as Operation Rescue Boston, or Rev. Flip Benham’s Operation Save America. In fact, Mr. Terry helped Rev. Tucci start Operation Rescue National. Operation Rescue has not been used by anyone other than Randall Terry, as a stand alone name until Mr. Newman dropped the West from the name of his California organization in 2007. The majority of pro lifers know that Operation Rescue is associated with Randall Terry, and most believe that Operation Rescue has always been on the cutting edge of the pro life movement, attracting people from all over the country to do things they did not know they were capable of doing. Operation Rescue under Randall Terry was also radical, in that it caused a crisis of consciousness and brought the issue of legalized child killing front and center. OR could not be ignored by the mainstream media or pundits, and no one ever knew what OR would be up to next, but whatever it did, it made national, and sometimes international news.
Now, consider the organization that brands itself Operation Rescue today, and see if it meets the criteria and ‘national standing’ that Mr. Newman claims. Mr. Newman moved headquarters of what was known as Operation Rescue West to Wichita, Kansas in 2002 to directly challenge and close the Women’s Health Care Services, and land George Tiller in jail. For the past 7 + years, this has been the main thrust of Mr. Newman’s energies and that of the Wichita organization. During this time, Mr. Newman also built up a fleet of truth trucks, and has had some success with them. I contributed thousands of dollars to Mr. Newman’s efforts over many years, as well as influencing others to do the same.
Mr Newman’s efforts have been commendable. But the question must be asked: do his efforts meet the criteria and purpose of Operation Rescue, as envisioned by its founder, and those who followed Mr. Terry in the leadership? Mr. Newman’s Wichita organization is focused on a local to regional matter, with the main focus being George Tiller, as evidenced by nearly all of the newsletters and fund raising letters sent out over the past 7 + years. Very little to nothing was mentioned about civil disobedience on a large national scale, nor was there ever a plan in place in which people felt like they could get behind this organization believing it would lead to the overturning of Roe and Doe.
This is what the Mr. Newman’s organization in Wichita has accomplished up until now. The claim to have built the organization back up to its ‘national prominence’ can be tested by looking at the fruits of this organization.
- Little evidence or news stories supporting any efforts at protests at multiple locations simultaneously.
- Very few recorded arrests during the time span of 1999-2010
- Wichita is the only office location in the country with 4 staff and no affiliates.
- Virtual protests instead of actual protests promoted.
- Has made virtually no national news in 7 + years other than the reported association with Roeder after the Tiller shooting.
- Have influenced local and Kansas laws, but not national legislation.
- Politicians do not fear this organization or any other current pro life organization and are not concerned about their endorsements or reprimand.
- No written action plan for ending legalized child killing.
These are just some of the differences in considering Operation Rescue (Randall Terry) as it was at its inception, and what Mr. Newman is doing with the name. There is a stark contrast to the activities and levels of accomplishments. It is apparent that Mr. Newman’s Wichita organization is benefiting from the use of the name Operation Rescue, as it has built in credibility and is nationally known, but not because of their efforts. It is interesting that Mr. Newman decided to trademark the name of another man’s labor, efforts and sacrifices instead of focusing on his own brand of activism, and standing on his own accomplishments.
In considering whether the Operation Rescue ‘brand’ is tarnished, as many anti lifers, and some pro lifers believe, it is really incumbent upon the beholder to make this determination. If one considers the regional efforts and successes of Mr. Newman and company and if this is applied and packaged as a national movement, then the answer is yes, it is tainted and out of date. If Mr. Newman’s efforts are seen in the light of a regional affiliate of a larger vibrant organization, then the answer would have to be that the OR brand is alive and well.
It would seem if one looks at the evidence provided, and does some research, it would become very apparent that Mr. Newman’s accomplishments, although very formidable and positive, do not in any way shape or form, represent a national organization that is on the cutting edge of ending legalized child killing, as it is not being duplicated anywhere. Duplication is what a national organization has if it is to be effective and effect change in society. Mr. Newman should drop the Operation Rescue moniker, as he does not represent what Operation Rescue is, and should name his organization in alignment with his own accomplishments.