WASHINGTON—Today People For the American Way Foundation released a report on the extremist anti-choice movement’s return to Wichita, Kansas, this summer, a quarter century after the “Summer of Mercy” in which close to 2,000 anti-abortion activists were arrested in clinic blockades. The report documents the July 2016 Wichita convening through in-depth, first-hand reporting and provides background on the history of and trends in the extremist fringe of the anti-choice movement.
Among the report’s findings:
- A major theme of today’s fringe anti-choice movement is pushing state and local officials to simply defy federal laws and Supreme Court rulings on abortion. They have been empowered in this by more mainstream conservatives’ increasing embrace of “nullification” strategies.
- This part of the movement’s routine harassment of abortion providers is made more unsettling by its direct connections to the violent peripheries of the anti-abortion movement—as exemplified by its embrace of activists like Matt Trewhella, who once signed a statement saying that the murder of abortion providers is justifiable homicide.
- The relatively small turnout at this year’s Wichita events was marked by increased virulence, with activists beginning to see some success in getting their messaging out to the broader conservative movement.
“Despite their small numbers, these activists argue that they have the power to curtail abortion rights for the entire country," said Miranda Blue, research editor at People For the American Way Foundation and principal author of the report. “What’s most alarming is that it’s a message and approach that is increasingly being embraced by people in positions of some power in the conservative movement.”
A short video showing footage and photos from the Wichita events is available here.
Through the Right Wing Watch blog, Blue regularly monitors and documents the activities of anti-choice right-wing activists. She is available for interviews with the press. To arrange one, please contact Laura Epstein at [email protected].