By Anita Lederer, Field Organizer
In late July, reproductive rights activists stood strong against anti-abortion terrorist group Operation Save America, which had set out to harass the women’s clinics of Charlotte, N.C., for a solid week. I headed down there along with NOW Action Vice President Erin Matson and two of our stellar summer interns. We were expecting the worst on that first Saturday when we rolled into town, but we outnumbered the antis that day, even counting the kids they had with them. Charlotte NOW and North Carolina NOW did an impressive job mobilizing volunteers and observers.
Charlotte NOW has been defending the Family Reproductive Health clinic for nine years and has done an amazing job getting community support and training defenders and observers. Additionally, this entire effort would not have been possible without our allies at the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Overall, we had a great turnout of clinic defenders. Some days during the week the antis didn’t show up at all, but we still had defenders turning out. The community of Charlotte clearly does not stand with this group, judging by the number of boos and middle fingers the antis received on their larger days. And annoyed patients refused attempts by antis to force literature on them.
Although Operation Save America did not turn out in large numbers, they still managed to cause harm. From the van loads of children under the age of 10 to their attempted conversion of the clinic defenders, Operation Save America was out to wreak havoc. Carrying their wanted-style posters and other disgusting signs, they went to a doctor’s home, as well as the Charlotte hospital where the doctor is a provider,. They went door-to-door in the doctor’s neighborhood, with children dressed as angels and posters containing hateful threats. They projected threats to the clinic providers via megaphone, and a countless number of women were harassed for choosing to do what they wanted with their bodies.
Thanks go out to law enforcement, who did an phenomenal job enforcing noise permits and making sure the antis did not go on clinic property. This made a huge difference.
Now the bad news: This week was just a test-run. Operation Save America plans to be back in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention, terrorizing clinics in even larger numbers. And NOW will be there again.
We need a ton of clinic defenders from Saturday, Sept. 1, through Saturday, Sept. 8. If you can come for a day, even an hour or two, that would really help. The women of Charlotte need your peaceful presence to combat the hateful rhetoric of this anti-abortion terrorist group. Please contact Anita Lederer at 202-628-8669, ext. 134, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping out.