Wichita 2001 - A Replay of the Summer of Mercy

In the summer of 1991 Operation Rescue lead a campaign against abortion in Wichita, Kansas that lasted over forty days and resulted in thousands of arrests. Ten years later under a new name (Operation Save America) and under new leadership, the abortion opponents mobilized about ten percent of their original forces. Their 2001 Summer of Mercy lasted barely a week.

The Antiabortion Crusaders

To see what Wichita was up against, read an editorial in the Wichita Eagle by the Rev. Flip Benham, head of Operation Save America: Abortion is another watershed battle.

Two weeks after the end of the Wichita campaign, many of the links to photos of the events on OSA's website were already dead. Nor do they have any summary of the event or any article that draws conclusions from their expierences there. Perhaps the relatively small turnout -- under 1,000 for most events, often under 500 -- makes a pitifully bad contrast with the tens of thousands they mobilized in 1991. Certainly their rhetoric remained equally hateful, but this time it only moved a few of their people to risk arrest.

The Wichita Photo Gallery  Pictures of Wichita demonstrations taken by members of Missionaries to the Unborn.

Wichita Summer of Mercy Renewal News  Operation Rescue West offers a compilation of web sources about organizing for Wichita.

The Miracle (or The Curse) of the Corn Husks

A strange agricultural/meteorological phenomenon has given the spiritually revved up something to rave about.

Corn Husks Rain From Wichita Sky  A mysterious shower of cornhusks that fell on Wichita -- the experts are puzzled.

Corn Husks Fall From The Sky Over Kansas  "For residents in some east Wichita neighborhoods Friday afternoon, the weather was particularly strange: Partly cloudy, with a chance of corn husks."

In Strange Rain Missionaries to the Unborn clears up any doubt as to the meaning of the husks in the text of a prayer entitled "The Squandering of Our Godly Heritage."

The Prochoice Side

Wichita Journals: On the Front Lines for Reproductive Freedom  A collection of daily bulletins from Refuse and Resist, telling in detail how prochoice people held the lines in Wichita. "In 1991, a reported 30,000 anti-abortion protesters converged on Wichita, almost completely unopposed. This time, even though they threatened to "finish the job," Operation Save America was only able to mobilize about 500 antis -- and they were opposed wherever they went and at every local and national press opportunity."

Maggot Punks  "The amphetamine of the masses." The MPs are based in Wichita, Kansas. They form "an elite commando squad that will oppose the fascist movement on all fronts."

" The purpose of the Maggot Punks is to preserve reproductive freedoms, maintain the absolute separation of state and church, oppose the proliferation of creationism, put religious terrorists in prison, catalogue the crimes and actions of fundy fanatics, work with other progressive organizations to increase their effectiveness in promote positive social change."

News and Commentary

Abortion Foes Return to Wichita  July 16, 2001 - "Abortion opponents marched at five Wichita churches Sunday, confronting worshippers with large signs showing aborted fetuses and spreading their message with bullhorns."

Abortion protesters prepare to parade in front of clinic  July 17, 2001 "We're not here to get arrested; we're here to stop abortion."

Emotions fervent in Wichita as abortion protests begin  July 15, 2002 - A Topeka Capital-Journal article describes the start of the protest.

In abortion fight, lines have shifted  July 16, 2001 - The Christian Science Monitor remarks on the number of abortion clinics that have closed in the ten years following the first Summer of Mercy, finding that this puts the prochoice side on the defensive. 

Here are five ways to really reduce abortions  August 10, 2001 -A  Salina Journal editorial draws this lesson from the replay of the Summer of Mercy: "Chances are the entrenchment of Kansas as a late-term abortion zone and our refusal to ban any form of abortion in Kansas
are a direct response to Operation Rescue. Kansans may not like abortion. But they like being told what to do by fanatical
outsiders a lot less." "As a news event, and as a winner of hearts and souls, this 10-year anniversary party was a total bust."

Wichita Watch 2001  The Feminist Majority Foundation presents a summary of news and opinion on the 2001 "Summer of Mercy."

Summer of Mercy observes relatively quiet conclusion  July 22, 2001  Commenting on the closing day of the demonstrations, the Kansas Morning Sun observed "Saturday's arrests -- the third and fourth of the weeklong protest -- were in sharp contrast to the tumult of 1991's Summer of Mercy, when 45 days of demonstrations included about 2,700 arrests."

Civic Journalism: The Wichita Experiment  July/August 1992 - The Columbia Journalism Review notes that two weeks after the first Summer of Mercy, when Operation Rescue had gone home, the Gay Rodeo Riders staid in the same hotel. CJR concludes from this that Wichita is not one-dimensional.