By Marjorie Signer, RCRC Communications Director
If I had to sum up the Summer Celebration of Choice in one word, it would be “joyous.”
Yes, there were annoyances –heat over 100 degrees, rain, the “anti” yelling mindless slogans at random cars entering the office park where the reproductive health clinic targeted by Operation Rescue is located, the children chalking the sidewalk with insults (“Religious Coalition for Death” was particularly offensive).
Worse was the possibility of violence from the veteran “anti” leaders who were there and linked to the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 and the “crisis pregnancy center” that local “antis” set up across from the clinic to do surveillance (by its own admission, it does not provide counseling services). Operation Rescue and its allies in this “Summer of Mercy” bring and attract danger, no matter their show of piousness and prayer.
But it is a sense of joy that remains now that the 9-day event is concluded. Joy that Dr. LeRoy Carhart is providing medical care to women at the clinic. That dozens of individuals from the neighborhood took time to stand with us in support of the clinic and Dr. Carhart’s medical practice. That RCRC’s training in Peaceful Presence worked and we kept the peace despite repeated instances of provocation. That the minister of a local Unitarian Universalist church brought some of us together in a worship circle – a circle of love and respect.
Joy that people from outside the immediate community did not respond to Operation Rescue’s call for a huge observance of the 20th anniversary of the original summer blockade in Wichita. Joy that the American public rejects anti-choice clinic assaults and is hearing the message that Dr. Carhart continuously and courageously conveys – as Dr. Tiller did before him: trust women.