Troy Newman stands with his few supporters outside Dr. Carhart's clinic.
A campaign launched in August by three major pro-life groups to shut down Dr. Leroy Carhart's Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska (ACCON) was met with a firm response involving clinic defense and counter-demonstration on August 28th and 29th.
The community of Bellevue, Nebraska expected a significant amount of protesters to descend on Carhart's clinic after Operation Rescue, Rescue the Heartland, and Nebraskans United for Life put out a press release indicating plans for "a pro-life rally, street activism at Carhart's Bellevue abortion clinic," and an "invitation-only training session for local pro-life activists" on August 28th and 29th.
Supporters of a woman's right to an abortion took notice of the initiation of this campaign against Dr. Leroy Carhart and his clinic. It was apparent that Operation Rescue and anti-abortion groups would be shifting attention from Wichita, Kansas to Bellevue, Nebraska to not just shut down Dr. Carhart's clinic but also to halt his plans to open a clinic in Kansas in honor of the late Dr. George Tiller.
Members of the Kansas and Nebraska National Organization for Women (NOW) chapters and members of World Can't Wait (WCW) refused to let a campaign that might play a role in putting up more barriers to a woman's right to reproductive health care services go unchallenged and gain momentum. They also refused to let a small group of extremists turn a community into a place where the killing of another abortion doctor could occur. (Operation Rescue's campaign in Wichita ultimately led to the death of Dr. Tiller.)
NOW and WCW convinced leaders from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, the Feminist Majority Network, and the national NOW organization to come to Dr. Carhart's Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska on August 28th to participate in a press conference and lay the foundation for the re-ignition of a vibrant abortion rights movement in America.
The stage was set for an intense clash between those intent on defending Carhart's clinic and anti-choice supporters of Operation Rescue. But, as the sun rose on Saturday over the clinic, it became more and more apparent that Operation Rescue did not have the grassroots support to back up their fresh campaign.
Throughout Friday and Saturday, pro-life "activities" were met with a force of clinic defenders that outnumbered supporters of Operation Rescue's efforts 2 to 1 (sometimes 3 to 1) at all times. Americans from seventeen states came out to directly challenge any harassment of patients, clinic workers, and the clinic itself.