clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

PRO-LIFE GROUP MOVES IN NEXT DOOR TO ABORTION CLINIC

Taking up a literal front-line position in the battle over abortion, Operation Rescue is moving its headquarters to a location just one door away from an abortion clinic - one that employs the woman who was at the center of Roe vs. Wade.

"It's a tremendous place. At the killing center, at the gates of hell, is where the church of Jesus Christ needs to be," said the Rev. Flip Benham, Operation Rescue's national director.Employees at A Choice for Women, a clinic that has been offering abortions at 9222 Markville Drive since 1991, looked on in horror Friday as the militant pro-life group known for blockading clinics moved in at 9224 Markville.

The two now sit in offices side by side - separated only by a wall - in the same two-story office building.

"I'm horrified. I'm sure it could escalate into a lot of violence," said Norma McCorvey, marketing director for the clinic. "My main concern is for our clinic and the safety of our doctor."

McCorvey was "Jane Roe," the woman whose demand for an abortion led to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling establishing the right to one.

On the sidewalk, Benham beamed as he helped move furniture. He insisted it was a coincidence that Operation Rescue rented space next to the clinic when the lease on the group's national headquarters elsewhere in Dallas expired.

"We did not orchestrate this," he said. "We are not smart enough or shrewd enough. It was almighty God."

Benham turned abruptly and grinned at McCorvey, who had come outside to watch. "Hey Norma! We're on for lunch today!" he shouted. "Don't forget!"

Benham admitted that being neighbors gives pro-life activists more access to clinic patrons. The group already talked one woman out of an abortion Friday morning, he said.

"We couldn't come on this property, and now we are tenants of the property. And believe me, that's God," Benham said.

McCorvey said she had asked the clinic's lawyers to see if Operation Rescue is violating the 1994 law that makes it a federal crime to interfere with abortion activities by means of force, the threat of force or physical obstruction.

The manager of the office complex, Warren Gilbert Jr., did not immediately return a call.

Meanwhile, McCorvey showed a letter she received from Gilbert's company Thursday nearly doubling the clinic's rent. The letter said Gilbert's insurance company "substantially increased our annual premium" because the clinic's real estate broker "did not accurately represent the nature of your business."

The letter says the clinic must pay an additional $35,600 in rent for 1995 to cover the premium increase. McCorvey said the clinic has been paying $3,500 a month, including insurance, or $42,000 a year.