For Operation Save America, ‘Criminalization Is Pro-Life’

| Reproaction

By: Jessica Ensley and Kara Mailman

For the past year, many of us have isolated from our friends and families as a deadly pandemic has swept the globe. In the U.S. alone, the coronavirus has taken the lives of more than half a million people.

Despite this, anti-abortion activists have continued to host unmasked super-spreader events, including groups such as Operation Save America (OSA), which encouraged people from across the U.S. to travel to Phoenix in late January for their regional conference. Videos from the conference show minimal masking and social distancing, both within the conference hall and at their clinic harassment event outside the local abortion provider. [1]

This willingness to put public health and safety at risk is nothing new for anti-abortion groups, especially Operation Save America. Members and associates of Operation Save America were present for the white supremacist violence at the Capitol on January 6, including Operation Save America incoming director Jason Storms. Storms has also openly discussed carrying an AR-15 around the streets of Wisconsin – which, as we saw outside a clinic in Raleigh when an anti-abortion protestor accidentally shot himself with his own gun, can be incredibly dangerous. [2] [3]

Most foreboding of all, however, is their desire to send people who have abortions to jail. On January 22 and 23, Operation Save America joined forces with Apologia Church in Arizona to host a mask-less weekend long conference. Jeff Durbin, Leading Teaching Pastor at Apologia Church and associate of Operation Save America, told a crowd of ‘pro-life’ supporters, “Pro-life should be ours. Abolition is pro-life. Criminalization is pro-life. This is truly pro-life.” [4] They are now saying the quiet part out loud: They believe people who have and perform abortions should be jailed, with their use of “abolition” as anything but anti-carceral and instead supporting criminalization of pregnancy outcomes.

Operation Save America even has the support of a state legislator. At that same rally, Arizona State Rep. Walter Blackman (R-District 6) talked about his legislation that would charge people who get abortions and their doctors with murder. [5] In Arizona, a murder charge could lead to a death sentence. [6] Of the bill, Blackman stated, “Yeah I am giving you a choice. I’m giving you a choice to stop murdering your baby or face the consequences.” He likened his support of Operation Save America as allies on a battlefield. What was once a wink to those who want to criminalize abortion is now a full embrace.

This whole-hearted promotion of criminalization can’t go unchecked. Operation Save America is not an outlier in the Big ‘Pro-Life’ movement. Charging people who have abortions with murder is inhumane and unacceptable. People who have abortions deserve kindness and compassion, not violent anti-abortion rhetoric and laws that put their lives at risk. We challenge Operation Save America and all those who seek to punish people for their pregnancy outcomes to #StopProsecutingAbortion.







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