Operation Rescue (Kansas)

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Operation Rescue (Kansas)
TypeAnti-abortion activism
Key people
Cheryl Sullenger

Operation Rescue (formerly Operation Rescue West or California Operation Rescue), the operating name of Youth Ministries Inc., is an anti-abortion organization in the United States.[1] The organization originated in California and is now based in Kansas.

Operation Rescue West was founded by Operation Rescue's tactical director, Jeff White, as a branch of Randall Terry's original Operation Rescue organization. Under White, Operation Rescue West maintained its focus on abortion. White aborted leadership in 1999 following an $880,000 judgment against Operation Rescue for harassment and intimidation of Planned Parenthood staff and its leadership to Troy Newman. In 2002, Newman moved the headquarters to Wichita, Kansas,[2] to focus its efforts on late-term abortion provider George Tiller, who was assassinated in 2009. Their headquarters is located in a former abortion clinic which closed due to harassment by Operation Rescue and was purchased by Newman through a front group.[3]


After the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act[4][5] was signed into law in May 1994 by President Bill Clinton, Operation Rescue West implemented new tactics that did not involve arrest.

Operation Rescue operates a fleet of what it refers to as "Truth Trucks", large panel vehicles that bear images of aborted fetuses.[6] These "Truth Trucks" travel around the nation showing what Operation Rescue describes as "grisly truth about abortion."

The organization offers a $25,000 reward for reports of criminal activity at abortion clinics which leads to a criminal conviction of what it describes as "abortionists".[7] The first award was given in 2011 to a former employee at an abortion clinic.[8]

Malachi Award[edit]

The Malachi Award is an annual award given for service to the anti-abortion movement. It is named after a fetus discovered outside an abortion clinic in Texas. The name means "my messenger" and was given to the fetus by the executive secretary of New York Lambs of Christ.[9]

Recipients of Operation Save America's Annual Malachi Award
Name Year Reason Note
Phill Kline[10] 2006 Investigations of George Tiller and Planned Parenthood,[10] later found to be unethical with loss of his ability to continue practice of law.[11] U.S Supreme Court upheld suspension
Leslee Unruh Spearheading the South Dakota abortion ban.[10]
Johnny Hunter Exposing what the group believes to be the devastating effects of abortion on the African American community.[citation needed]
Lila Rose 2008 For exposing illegal activity in abortion clinics.[12][13]
James Pouillon 2009 Murdered at a “pro-life” protest at Owosso High School.[14] Awarded posthumously
Eileen Smith 2010 Her daughter died during an abortion procedure; the doctor who performed the procedure pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail.[15][16]

Lawsuit over use of name[edit]

Randall Terry filed a lawsuit against Troy Newman in 2008, alleging misuse of the name "Operation Rescue." Former Rescue leaders, including Keith Tucci (director), Patrick Mahoney (media director), Jeff White (tactical director) have signed a statement in support of Newman. "We now feel compelled to speak up because Randall's actions are hurting the work of Troy Newman and Operation Rescue in their efforts to see George Tiller end his barbaric abortion practices in Wichita, Kansas. Additionally, we can no longer remain silent while Mr. Terry continues to fleece unsuspecting pro-life people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for his personal and selfish gain."[17]

In 2006 after an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service into the nonprofit for electioneering in 2004, Operation Rescue West's tax exemption status was revoked. The group reopened under the name Operation Rescue.[18][19]

George Tiller[edit]

Efforts against Tiller[edit]

Operation Rescue has publicized a number of allegedly "botched" abortions[20] at Tiller's Women's Health Care Services, including the death of Christin A. Gilbert following a third-trimester abortion.[21] Operation Rescue staff have also investigated and made allegations[22] regarding other facilities around the country.[23][24] Dr. Tiller was cleared of any charges of medical neglect in the death of Christin Gilbert.[citation needed]

In September 2006, Newman and "personhood" anti-abortion activist Keith Mason showed up at an open-air gubernatorial debate dressed as cockroaches, protesting alleged unsanitary conditions at Tiller's clinic. Democratic State Rep. Vaughn Flora (Topeka) recognized Newman, tore his mask off, and was arrested for battery. Flora was fined $100 in return for a nolo plea. Newman later launched a $75,000 lawsuit against Flora which was dismissed. As of September 8, 2006, Youth Ministries Inc. (the incorporated name for Operation Rescue) had its 501(c)(3) status revoked by the IRS, following charges of improper use of contributions, and illegal endorsements of political candidates.[25]

Operation Rescue also worked to mobilize support in the Kansas State Legislature to order the newly elected Attorney General, Democrat Paul Morrison, to reinstate misdemeanor charges that were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds against Dr. Tiller. The group planned a rally in front of the offices of ADA Nora Foulston, to present evidence of mass murder against Tiller.

Response to Tiller's murder[edit]

On May 31, 2009, Tiller was assassinated in his church. Scott Roeder of Merriam, KS was convicted of first degree murder in the shooting. Operation Rescue denounced Tiller's murder in numerous statements, describing it as "cowardly"[26][27] and "antithetical to what we believe".[28] The group also said that Roeder had "never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue."[29] Roeder responded to Newman's disavowal by declaring, "Well, my gosh. I've got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I've donated to him."[30]

The phone number for Operation Rescue's senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, was found on the dashboard of Scott Roeder's car.[31] At first Sullenger, who was convicted for conspiring to blow up a California abortion clinic in 1988, denied any contact with him, saying that her phone number is freely available online. Then, she revised her statements, indicating that she informed Scott Roeder of where Dr Tiller would be at specific times:

"He would call and say, 'When does court start? When's the next hearing?'" Sullenger said. "I was polite enough to give him the information. I had no reason not to. Who knew? Who knew, you know what I mean?"[32]

Women's Healthcare services was closed following his death. There were multiple efforts by a variety of physicians, activists, and organizations to open or reopen an abortion providing facility in Wichita. Trust Women Foundation reopened in the same facility in April 2013. [33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who We Are". Operationrescue.org. July 14, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  2. ^ National Public Radio: What's Next For Slain Abortion Doctor's Clinic? June 9, 2009.
  3. ^ Harkinson, Josh (March–April 2007). "The Exorcists". Mother Jones.
  4. ^ Prochoice.org Archived November 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Committee Reports - 104th Congress (1995-1996) - Senate Report 104-022". Thomas.loc.gov. September 30, 1994. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  6. ^ Protesters Who Push Limits, Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2004
  7. ^ "Abortion Whistleblowers – Earn A $25,000 Reward!". Operationrescue.org. January 14, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  8. ^ "Former Abortion Worker to Receive First Abortion Whistleblower Reward of $25,000". Operationrescue.org. January 20, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  9. ^ "Culture". Onenewsnow.com. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Operation Rescue Announces 2006 Recipients of the Malachi Man and Woman of the Year Awards". Christian Newswire. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "Supreme Court denies Kansas' Phill Kline appeal on law license suspension". Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  12. ^ "Planned Parenthood 'Stung' By Lila Rose | Politics". Religion Dispatches. June 18, 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  13. ^ CBS Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ [James M. Pouillon criticizes father, slain anti-abortion activist James L. Pouillon, in online post], Flint Journal, Laura Angus.September 17, 2009, Updated April 04, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  15. ^ Ballou, Brian R. (September 15, 2010). "Ex-doctor sentenced to prison in death of abortion patient". Boston Globe.
  16. ^ Five-star jail on Martha's Vineyard? ,Boston Herald, Karen Jeffrey, September 19, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Statements Concerning Randall Terry and His Unbiblical Lawsuit Against Troy Newman". Operation Rescue. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009.
  18. ^ Strom, Stephanie (September 15, 2006). "Anti-Abortion Group Loses Tax Exemption". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020.
  19. ^ "Leaders battle over rights to 'Operation Rescue'". AP News. June 1, 2008. Archived from the original on December 31, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2017 – via The Topeka Capital-Journal.
  20. ^ "justiceforchristin.com". justiceforchristin.com. January 13, 2005. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  21. ^ Cheryl Sullenger. "In Memory of Christin". Justiceforchristin.com. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  22. ^ "Illegal Fetal Age Deception Scheme Uncovered At Tiller's Abortion Clinic". Operationrescue.org. January 12, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  23. ^ Operationrescue.org Archived February 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Pro-life Whistleblower Is Billed $1,100, Abortionist Hodari Fined Nothing For Illegal Dumping". Operationrescue.org. March 26, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  25. ^ IRS Archived May 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Operation Rescue Denounces The Killing of Abortionist Tiller". Operationrescue.org. May 31, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  27. ^ US abortion doctor is shot dead, BBC, June 1, 2009, retrieved June 1, 2009
  28. ^ Monica Davey and Joe Stumpe (May 31, 2009), "Doctor Who Performed Abortions Is Shot to Death", New York Times, retrieved May 31, 2009
  29. ^ "Operation Rescue Statement Regarding Suspect In Tiller Killing". Operationrescue.org. June 1, 2009. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  30. ^ Thomas, Judy. "Roeder Upset at Operation Rescue." Wichita Eagle July 26, 2009: A1.
  31. ^ "Phone number found inside car of man suspected of killing George Tiller belongs to woman who plotted 1988 clinic bombing". Pitch. June 1, 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
  32. ^ "Operation Rescue adviser helped Tiller suspect track doctor's court dates". McClatchy. June 3, 2009. Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
  33. ^ "Who was Dr. George Tiller? Legacy of murdered abortion doctor lives on through Trust Women Foundation". Newsweek. May 31, 2019.

Other sources[edit]

  • Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the Nation's Conscience by Philip F. Lawler (1992) ISBN 0-87973-506-6
  • Live From the Gates of Hell: An Insider's Look at the Antiabortion Underground by Jerry Reiter (2000) ISBN 1-57392-840-2
  • "METRO DATELINES; Anti-Abortion Group Will Close Its Offices", The New York Times, December 17, 1990
  • New York Times September 15, 2006 "Anti-Abortion Group Loses Tax Exemption" by Stephanie Strom
  • Jim Risen & Judy L. Thomas, Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (1998) 2001
  • Clinics Prepare for Operation Rescue 1993
  • CourtTV

External links[edit]