Opposing US anti-abortionists in England - European Counter Network

Report on demonstrations against the 1993 visit of a group of US anti-abortionists to the UK.

Members of the US anti-abortion group Rescue America have been in London for a week of action with British and Irish supporters. Rescue have been at the centre of increasingly violent protests at American abortion clinics. This year there have already been 53 incidents of violence including arson, bombings, vandalism, and assaults. A doctor at a clinic in Florida was shot dead in March during a Rescue America protest. So much for the sanctity of human life.

In Britain however the supporters of Rescue are a small and pathetic group led by Father James Morrow, a Scottish priest. On Tuesday March 30th, less than 20 (including international reinforcements) attempted to picket the London offices of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. 18 pro-choice demonstrators were arrested by the police for opposing the Rescue bigots.

Two days later Rescue showed up at the Marie Stopes Clinic, at Buckhurst Hill in Essex. A woman going into the clinic was surrounded by anti-abortionists carrying photos of aborted foetuses and of Jesus. They shouted "Think of the baby... how can you kill another human being".

On Saturday 3 April, Rescue targetted the Calthorpe Nursing Home abortion clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham. 6 anti-abortionists barricaded themselves in the clinc's entrance hall, while other lay down in the drive. Rescue faced a counter-demonstration, and 8 anti-abortionists were arrested, including Father Morrow. Morrow has a previous conviction for assaulting a pregnant member of the clinic's staff.

In Brixton, South London, 40 pro-choice demonstrators turned up to defend the local Raleigh Clinic, but the anti-abortionists failed to appear. A telephone contact list was organised to mobilise people if Rescue turned up later. In 1990, Operation Rescue picketed this clinic several times before they were driven out by militant and physical opposition.

Despite the small numbers of people involved, Rescue have gained plenty of publicity from the visit. Their leader in the US, Don Treshman, has appeared on several national TV programmes, his public profile raised by the fact that he was arrested and threatened with deportation. The group claim that they will be stepping up their UK operations in the near future.

European Counter Network, April 1993. Taken from the Practical History website.