Thursday, June 10, 2010
Operation Rescue To Open Office
By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer
The president of Operation Rescue said the Kansas-based anti-abortion group plans to open an office in Albuquerque and step up protesting and lobbying activity here.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said he visited Albuquerque in April and met with local anti-abortion activists.
"We'll definitely have staff there," Newman said Wednesday. Operation Rescue will open the office "in coming weeks" but no date is set, he said. "I don't know if we're going to lease or buy." The group will remain based in Wichita, Kan., he said.
The leader of a pro-choice group said Wednesday she fears the move signals the start of more aggressive tactics by abortion opponents that could lead to "an escalation of harassment and intimidation" of clinic staff and clients.
Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, sent a letter this week to Archbishop Michael Sheehan urging him to discourage any cooperation between the archdiocese and Operation Rescue.
To do so, she wrote, "may attract unstable, extremist individuals to pro-life demonstrations and could result in the same kind of violence that has happened in Wichita, Kansas, and other communities."
Lamunyon Sanford said the letter referred to the killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita abortion doctor who was fatally shot in May 2009 by an abortion opponent. Operation Rescue condemned the killing.
Celene Radigan, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said the archdiocese has no relationship with Operation Rescue.
During his visit to Albuquerque, Newman met with the Rev. Stephen Imbarato, a leader of Project Defending Life, a Catholic pro-life ministry.
Imbarato said he has shared information with Operation Rescue leaders about the operations of Albuquerque abortion clinics but has no plans to adopt more aggressive tactics.
"We are a peaceful, prayerful ministry," Imbarato said Wednesday. "I've been doing pro-life work for 20 years. I've never been arrested; I've never been close to being arrested."
Newman rejected Lamunyon Sanford's suggestion that Operation Rescue supports or invites violent tactics.
"If I was involved in any way, shape or form with violent activity, I'd be locked away somewhere," Newman said.