Miscellaneous Stories from the New England Christian Action Council: 1983-1991 [1]

John C. Rankin

These many years later, I am reviewing my files from full-time pro-life ministry, 1983-1991, when my office for the New England Christian Action Council (NECAC) was in Rockport, then Gloucester, then Boston, Massachusetts. I served as founder and executive director of what was always a shoestring operation. Here are various stories and communications that are worth recording, if for no other reason than I learned from them.

[1] A Woman Surprises the Police at an Abortion Center

I received a handwritten letter in 1984 by a fellow student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Glen Kagan. At this juncture I had not formed my thoughts on the best best biblical witness at abortion centers — that would take me until 1989. Glen’s letter is perhaps my first encounter with the subject.

He told me of a newly formed group, the Pro-Life Nonviolent Action Project, and their sit-in — planned for two years and in notifying the police well in advance — at the Uptown Women’s Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland, May 19, 1984. Some 250 people participated, and they locked arms to blockade a woman from entering the clinic several times, willing to break the law accordingly in terms of trespass. Two people were arrested when they refused to heed police orders and move out of the blockade position, and one “overly-aggressive” man who confronted a young woman seeking entrance was also arrested.

“Twenty minutes or so before closing a young woman approached the clinic and was initially confronted (as usual) by a female sidewalk counselor & things were ambiguous so the group went into action. The young woman became visibly upset. At this point the police drove the paddy-wagons in front of the clinic and gave the group 60 seconds to move. They didn’t. The police were ready to move when all of a sudden the woman stepped forward yelling that she didn’t want an abortion but instead wanted counseling about having another child. The group applauded, moved away from the doors and shortly after that the clinic closed for the day. There were no abortions performed at the Uptown Women’s Clinic on May 19, 1984. Praise God!”

When I developed the Sacred Assemblies for the Unborn, which began on June 3, 1989 at Preterm Abortion Center in Brookline, Massachusetts, continuing for two years of Saturdays until the NECAC bankrupted, I biblically opposed blockade and other coercive means. Our fruit was very good in 1989-1991, as some 200-300 women (as best we could tell from cross-checking sources) walked away from their abortion appointments if their own volition.

Nonetheless, those who gathered in Gaithersburg in 1984 saw the evil of human abortion, applauded and supported a woman who wanted to choose life. It is a question of how biblically and best to go about it.

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