Home Entertainment The Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History–Bill Cotter & Phil Lawler

The Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History–Bill Cotter & Phil Lawler

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The Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History–Bill Cotter & Phil Lawler

May 8, 2018

Operation Rescue is the largest civil disobedience movement in
American history. It even dwarfs the civil rights movement, with
over fifty thousand people having been arrested between 1988 and
1992 for nonviolently blockading abortion clinics. Yet most people,
even most Catholics, don’t know the story. On the rare occasions
when it has been covered by the media, it has been falsely and
laughably portrayed as violent and extremist.

Today’s episode is something of an oral history of Operation
Rescue, told by Bill Cotter, head of OR Boston, who spent 19 months
in prison for his involvement with the protests. You’ll also hear
from CatholicCulture.org’s own Phil Lawler, who provided the public
face of OR Boston while Bill was in jail, and also wrote a book
about the movement in 1992.


Phil Lawler’s book, Operation Rescue: A Challenge to the
Nation’s Conscience


Operation Rescue Boston http://orboston.org/

Operation Rescue national website http://www.operationrescue.org/

Footage of police brutality against Rescuers during the “Summer
of Mercy”, in which tens of thousands of pro-lifers flocked to
Wichita and thousands were arrested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSPto_gQ5CU

Footage of L.A. police breaking a Rescuer’s arm with nunchucks


Bill Cotter interview

3:00 Description of a rescue

6:49 Tactics to delay police from dragging people away

10:13 Factors that kept Operation Rescue from continuing to
operate as a mass movement blockading abortion clinics after its
heyday in the late 80s and early 90s: court injunctions, most
people unwilling to go to jail for longer than a weekend

12:07 Most of the people involved were not activist types and
the rescues were not demonstrations. They had a specific concrete
goal: on that day, at that time, in that place, to prevent babies
from being killed

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14:31 According to Phil Lawler’s book Operation Rescue,
in between 1988 and 1992 over 50,000 Rescuers had been
arrested—about six times as many arrests as during the entire civil
rights movement! So why don’t more people know about OR? (Need I
have asked?)

17:00 Lack of support and even hostility from some Catholic
clergy today towards pro-life movement

18:19 Police brutality against Rescuers in West Hartford, CT and

22:22 Bill spent 19 months in jail

27:15 Mixed response to OR in Boston

29:19 The genesis of OR; the early days; getting more and more

34:06 Bill’s participation in Rescues outside Boston; Rescues
accompanying St. JPII’s visit to the US in 1987; the Summer of
Mercy in Wichita

37:39 What is OR doing today?

39:54 Is it true that the young people are becoming more

42:05 Learning about Operation Rescue is a challenge to our
complacency and desensitization to the continued toleration of
abortion. Why shouldn’t I be in jail right now?

47:51 Importance of prayer

49:28 How people can learn more and get involved with OR

50:31 Current signs of hope for the pro-life movement;
eschatological hope

Phil Lawler interview

55:12 How Phil got involved with Operation Rescue

56:35 His first impression of OR people

57:52 Phil was the public face of OR Boston while Bill Cotter
was in jail

58:47 Being arrested

59:55 Phil’s interactions with the media on behalf of OR,
personal experience of media bias

1:02:00 How the archdiocese of Boston treated OR

1:04:07 The media and others routinely accused OR of violence;
Ted Kennedy made a speech saying OR had “a policy of firebombing
and even murder”(!!!)

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1:04:59 The optimism of the pro-life movement at this time

1:07:52 The draconian penalties judges imposed on the

1:10:24 Why do so few Catholics know about OR?

1:11:02 Couldn’t the Rescuers have called the bluff on these
long prison sentences and brought the whole thing to a standstill?
Phil gives his own personal answer

1:13:27 Joan Andrews, the Dorothy Day of the modern pro-life
movement; today’s Red Rose Rescues

1:15:20 This week’s excerpt: Pope Benedict XVI, God is love

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