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Religious Tolerance logo

Two examples of abortion
protests, not at clinics: 1998 to now

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1998-1999: Church protest: Lincoln, NE:

Dr. Winston Crabb has been a gynecologist in Lincoln NE for 25 years. He occasionally performed abortions. Dr Crabb claims that an Omaha pro-life group called Rescue the Heartland has "been chasing me around" for years. In 1996-DEC, the group found that Dr. Crabb was a deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln. They started putting pressure on the church as well.

Picketing of the church started on 1997-FEB-23. There were typically a dozen members of Rescue the Heartland in front of the church before each Sunday service and at various other church events. They held up posters which show bloody pictures of late-term "aborted fetuses and mangled body parts." 1 Dr. Crabb commented: "I would not have gotten on session if I'd realized it was going to create this hassle. But after you are (on session), you can't give in to them." He has also been ordained as a deacon and is in his final year as a member of the session.

Rev. Carl Horton, an associate pastor at Westminster, said:

"I think the community of faith has seen beyond the issue of pro-life, pro-choice or beyond any one person's position on abortion. You kind of band together as a community to make it through the storm, and there's this sense of putting those differences aside."

Dr. Crabb and the Westminster Church are featured on an anti-Abortion internet site, The Nuremberg Files. 2 The site lists abortion doctor's names and addresses. It calls these church members "pew-sitting butchers of God's children." On 1999-FEB-2, a federal jury found the webmasters of the site guilty of threats to abortion providers. Damages of at least $100 Million were assessed. The web site is no longer accessible in its original form.

The Westminster congregation currently has about 1,500 members. They have lost about 100 members since picketing began.

Some parishioners and officials from Westminster complained that children may be harmed by graphic pictures on the posters. Ross Thompson, a Westminster member and psychologist specializing in child development commented:

"The kids, especially young children. . .were very disturbed by the encounters that they and their families would have with protesters. Younger children had difficulty comprehending the issues that were the focus of the protests. But what they picked up pretty quickly was the hostility of the protesters."

The disturbances led to a city ordinance that restricts picketing at all churches, from a half hour before church services to half an hour afterwards. Picketers must stay at least 50 feet from the church or go across the street. The ordinance was vetoed by the mayor; this was overridden by city council on 1998-SEP. The ordinance was challenged in federal court on the grounds that it impeded freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. district Judge Richard Kopf issued a temporary injunction which barred enforcement of the ordinance. This was extended on 1998-NOV-4 by a preliminary injunction. He ruled that the bylaw bars "substantially more speech than is necessary."  City council decided on 1999-JAN-11 to mount an appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, MO.

The protestors have published statements emphasizing that they are exercising their constitutional rights of free speech; they have denied targeting children. Gene Summerlin, a lawyer who represents four Rescue the Heartland demonstrators, said:

"We are dealing with an ordinance that, at least in our opinion, is clearly unconstitutional. The plaintiffs' activities in protesting on the public sidewalks in front of this church in a peaceful manner are protected by the Constitution."

The clinic in Omaha where Dr. Crab had performed abortions was closed. On 1999-JAN-3, Rescue the Heartland spokespersons announced that the picketing would cease. However, Dr. Crab continued to perform abortions in Lincoln, NE. On JAN-10 and JAN-24, another group unaffiliated with Rescue the Heartland demonstrated at the church.

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1998 to now: Continuing displays at universities:

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) sponsors the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) 4 GAP is:

"... a traveling photo-mural exhibit which compares the contemporary genocide of abortion to historically recognized forms of genocide. It visits university campuses around the country to show as many students as possible what abortion actually does to unborn children and get them to think about abortion in a broader historical context."

A common GAP poster it titled "The changing face of choice." It has three panels:

bullet One labeled "religious choice." It shows a Nazi flag, a yellow star of David that Jews were forced to wear in countries controlled by the Nazis, and a a black and white picture of a pile of bodies at a Nazi death camp,
bullet One labeled "racial choice." It shows a black and white picture of a lynched African-American.
bullet One labeled "reproductive choice."  It shows parts from an aborted fetus, of about 10 weeks gestation. 5

Panels are six feet tall and thirteen feet wide. They can be purchased from CBR. 6

Another poster is similar, but is labeled "ungentile, unwhite, unborn". The final panel shows a decapitated head of a fetus. Still another is labeled "The S.S., The K.K.K., Planned Parenthood." They offer posters for sale, and appeal for tax-deductible donations.

Their first major university demonstration was on 1998-APR-3 at Penn State University, during the Jewish holy day of Passover. The giant poster was displayed for a week. This was accompanied by four formal presentations, one of which was in a debate format. They have made other visits to the University of Tennessee and University of Kansas. The latter was scheduled during Jewish holy days (1998-SEP; Jewish New Year). There was considerable negative reaction to the display by students.

A decade later, they are still active.

They have a very graphic display online of what appears to be a series of late-term abortions. It is not to be viewed by the weak of stomach or faint of heart. See

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Evan Silverstein, "Anti-Abortion Protests at Presbyterian Church Drive Some Away, Bring Others Together," PCUSA News, 1999-FEB-3, #99057
  2. "Neal Horsley," Wikipedia, at:
  3. "$100M verdict in landmark 'Net case," at:
  4. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform at:
  5. "Genodice: Cambodian killing fields; American killing fields," poster image, Center for Bio-Ethical Reform at:
  6. "GAP Signs," Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, at: The sign described is in the upper left corner.

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Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Religious aspects > here

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Copyright © 1998 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-MAR-2
Latest update: 2009-JUN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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