"Right now an abortionist is hanging on by a thread" proclaimed the Operation Rescue brochure sent to adherents all over the country. Operation Goliath, touted as Phase II of the Rescue Movement, exhorted followers to come to Dobb's Ferry, a small village in upstate New York from January 28-31.
The Operation Goliath brochure states The Battle Plan. "The goal is to unite all pro-life and rescue forces into one mighty army, with one specific focus: an all-out holy war on the child-killing industry-one mill at a time! By concentrating our rescue missions, we hope to unite all our efforts on one specific killing center in one specific community: a holy war that will not stop until Goliath goes down! With the help of Almighty God, we can defeat Goliath, one mill at a time."
The language in this brochure would make Saddam Hussein proud - Holy War - as if war is ever holy! OR proclaims, "Most of us have been fighting this battle 'in the air' on a (sic) ideological level. But no country can win a war with its air force alone!" (Do you suppose they have been advising General Schwartzkopf?) "To defeat the enemy permanently, we need to move back their borders and take their turf. The war isn't over until the land has been conquered."
No, this isn't a plan to free Kuwait. This "war" is taking place in America and it consists of attacks on medical offices, women and health care professionals who are trying to serve them. If anyone had any doubts about the dissolution of the "Rescue Movement" after their dismal record of success throughout the country, the events in Dobb's Ferry should make it very clear that there are a group of obsessed people in America who are going to continue to attack clinics any where, any time.
The following report on the events at Dobb's Ferry was told to the Body Politic by Randy Fallor, Executive Director at the Women's Medical Pavilion.
Monday, January 28 - A few people were seen scouting out the territory preparing for the attack. No demonstrators, no picketing.
Tuesday, January 29 - At 7:00AM, I was in the Women's Medical Pavilion with an armed guard and two attack dogs. Dr. Kaali had contracted with the security firm to protect the facility. People began massing outside. The security guard and I went out and told them to disperse.
They refused the orders and about 50 people charged the guard and his dogs. Five people were bitten, resulting in one broken finger. However, the guard was overwhelmed and demonstrators blockaded the entrances.
At this point the police took over and through the course of the morning, about 80 people were arrested. We opened the doors about 12:30PM. Randy Terry from Binghamton was there, but he stayed well away from the action. Nice coat Randy!
Wednesday, January 30 - AM. We seldom do abortions on Wednesdays - mostly tubal ligations. But the demonstrators were here by 8:00AM.
The Chief of Police, Frank Perelli, who has been very cooperative with the clinic, asked me to take my staff away for half an hour and trust that when we returned the demonstrators would be gone. I realize the difficulty the Chief is having maintaining order in this tiny town of 10,000 with only 23 policemen against 200 demonstrators. I agreed to his request and we left at 8:45. By 9:15 everyone was gone and we were open.
We are trying to cooperate with the police and bend over backwards to serve our patients.
Wed. PM. Dr. Kaali was very annoyed that we were late in opening today. He told the Chief that for Thursday he was going to call the security company again and ask for more guards and dogs. The Police Chief said if he did that the police would not come to the clinic if called.
The doctor became furious and put a sign in the window saying, WENT FISHING: SEE YOU IN FLORIDA. (This referred to the fact that the leader, Pat Mahoney from the Center for Christian Activism, comes from Boca Raton, Florida).
Thursday, January 31 - Today we did not open! But the demonstrators are still here by 7:00AM and stay until 2:00PM. Why? Because I refuse to follow the script that they demand I have my answering service use when a patient calls. They want me to say that we are closed and I am having the service say "call later." They are trying to dictate under what terms the Women's Medical Pavilion will offer services.
Friday, February 1 - I did something different today. For months I have been the voice of moderation and reason, carefully trying to walk the middle of the road and be considerate of everyone's needs. Today was too much!
We almost never do abortions on Fridays, which are reserved for other gynecological surgery and general health care. This morning, by 7:00AM there were about 125 demonstrators here and approximately 45 of them were blockading the entrances. I told the Chief I wanted them removed right away. The leader, Pat Mahoney, said if I could convince his followers that we didn't do abortions today, they would leave. He and the Chief wanted me to sign a statement vowing that there would be no abortions performed today. I vehemently refused! I will not consent to open the Women's Medical Pavilion on conditions imposed by trespassers or police.
This incident was the end of my cooperation with the Chief. He was adamant that I sign - what could it hurt? I told him he had 10 minutes to arrest the blockaders. My staff and I withdrew, but no arrests were forthcoming. Then I gave the Chief my ultimatum. Arrest the blockaders now because my staff was going in the building anyway we had to.
Very quickly the police produced ropes which they tied to police cars. The blockaders were dragged to the ropes and handcuffed there. The doors were now clear and patients were able to keep their appointments.
Operation Goliath has left the area, but the battle at Dobb's Ferry is not over. Part of the reason that the blockaders were able to keep coming back day after day is because the Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Fallacy, set a dangerous precedent by issuing appearance ticket to those arrested. This allowed demonstrators to immediately return to the scene of the crime for more criminal activity.
Randy Fallor also reports that on Monday, February 4th the jails were opened and those arrested in previous blockades in September '90 and January '91 were released - without having to give their names.
Reproductive rights activists across New York can empathize with Ms. Fallor attempting to serve patients, while coping with an unsympathetic legal system.
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