What we need from Operation Rescue is an official statement of tactical and strategic faith. We need a statement that under no circumstances will Operation Rescue or any of its official representatives call for armed resistance to civil authority without public support from a lesser magistrate. We need a statement that violence will not be initiated by Operation Rescue groups against the bodies of private citizens, except for unarmed physical interposition: separating murderous physicians from the clients and targeted unborn victims. We need also a statement that the deliberate destruction of the actual tools used by licensed murderers in their crimes will endanger only the property and not any person.
Getting arrested is a minimal commitment. Paying a fine a minimal commitment. Insisting on a jury trial and then going through with it is a major commitment. Doing it again in another city the next year is even more of a commitment. We need people who will make this commitment. Tens of thousands of them. When Operation Rescue recruits them, legalized abortion will stop in the United States. With or without a postmillennial revival.
— Gary North, Are Operation Rescue’s Critics Self-Serving?
Operation Rescue did none of these things.
From Joel McDurmon’s article Blocking the doors: Operation Rescue . . . the Churches!
Whitehead’s section on practical lessons has several nuggets worth consideration, at least. Here are a few:
On organization: “The success of reform or protest movements appears to be directly related to the organization of parties to carry out acts of defiance. According to one authority on reform, “[c]hange comes from power, and power comes from organization.” Unlike the colonial revolutionaries, Operation Rescue has not followed a deliberate, unified, and informed pattern of civil disobedience. Operation Rescue appears to lack a coordinated and knowledgeable group of leaders who act behind the scenes to weigh the pros and cons of the group’s activities.”3
However true this may ultimately be for success of other movements in the future, or not, it is clearly true that it spelled failure for hundreds of such rescues by OR in the 80s and 90s. There is no chance, then, of success from only a single such rescue today, without significant changes first.
There are more good points worth noting in the original article, but this passage is worth putting in the spotlight.
At the root: because of this organizational failure, in 1988/1989, there wasn’t tens of thousands of committed Christians, willing to pay the price for victory.
We will be paying the price for that abject failure for a long, long time to come.