US militants fight British abortions

AMERICAN anti-abortionists said they were ready this weekend to start developing a British fundamentalist group to continue their campaign of direct action against family planning clinics.

Scuffles broke out at a Birmingham abortion clinic yesterday morning when 16 demonstrators - 12 of whom were Americans, Russians and Puerto Ricans - blocked the paths of tearful women patients. Afterwards Don Treshman, the Texan leader of Rescue America, said a British offshoot of the pro-life campaign would be on the streets by the summer.

Mr Treshman, who arrived in Britain a week ago with about eight other US pro-life activists, said: 'We had planned to set up an all British group in six to eight months time. But the reaction from your pro-life community has been so good, we're ready to bring it all forward.

'There are maybe 150 people here who want to get involved - all they need is to know how. The next major thrust will be British- led and the majority of participants will be British.'

There were demonstrations outside British clinics in 1989, but the campaign died out. The new breed of British militants will be trained in US organisational methods and taught what to do at demonstrations, Mr Treshman said. They will be invited to conferences and protests in Oklahoma, Colarado and other Bible- belt states this summer.

The Americans are openly contemptuous of the mainstream British anti-abortion groups' failure to risk breaking the law by taking direct action.

The Rev Ed Martin, the executive director of Rescue America, who led the demonstration yesterday at the Calthorpe Nursing Home, said: 'The indifference of many British pro-lifers must end, and end soon if we are to hold back God's hand of judgement over England's participation in the ongoing carnage of dead babies and mutilated mothers.'

Mr Treshman made it clear that Rescue America regarded British pro-life groups as a feeble bunch. 'We understand that people have been battling here for 27 years - writing letters to newspapers and politicians,' he said. 'That's important, but they have not saved a single life. The tactics have not borne fruit and every day babies are dying.'

A fast-talking 48-year-old from Houston, Texas, he delivers his theories that abortion clincs are part of a eugenic conspiracy to produce a modern version of Hitler's master race in neat media- friendly sound bites.

Since coming to Gatwick Airport, as a tourist, he has successfully organised a stream of publicity for the American way with family planning clinics. On Monday he was arrested by the Immigration Department, which served him with a deportation order. He was held in custody until being released on bail on Thursday on condition he did not get involved in disturbances while he appealed against deportation.

But his time in jail, the Home Office's anger and the court orders have failed to silence him. Yesterday, after 48 hours without sleep, he was enthusiastically publicising the demonstration in Birmingham from a supporter's home in north London.

Rescue America operates on the edge of legality. It mounts noisy pickets of clinics, tries to 'counsel' patients on the street, produces wanted posters of medical staff and follows nurses and doctors home. A Florida doctor was shot dead after the clinic where he worked had been targetted by the group.

Birmingham was chosen for yesterday's demonstration because the British authorities were expecting a protest in London. A van containing the Americans and a Russian orthodox priest and lecturer from the Moscow Medical Academy arrived at 7am outside the clinic in Edgbaston.

Six barricaded themselves inside the home. Ten others lay down in the drive. Tussles broke out when feminists arrived to hold a counter demonstration. Patients and staff met a cacophany of abuse, prayers and cries of 'scum' as they tried to get past the rival groups, 25 policemen and a knot of journalists.

Eight members of the group were arrested, including Father James Morrow, the Scottish Roman Catholic priest, who wants to prosecute the doctor who allowed the Hillsborough disaster victim Tony Bland, to die. Father Morrow was arrested outside Calthorpe in November 1989 and was later convicted of assaulting a pregnant member of the clinic's staff.

After the police carried off the protestors, Rescue America supporters said they were exhilarated by the 'success' of the action, which delayed work at the nursing home for three hours.

Mr Treshman, who expects the Americans to remain in Britain for another fortnight, said: 'We know that 25 per cent of the women we stop decide not to have an abortion so it is great if we turn people back like in Birmingham. It will be difficult for us to get into this country again once we leave.'

Yesterday Kathleen O'Keefe, who has worked for Rescue America in the US, and was one of the few British demonstrators in Birmingham, said the demonstration was a sign of a new militancy. 'This rescue marks a turning point in the (British) anti- abortion movement,' she said.

Victoria Merrin, administrator of the Calthorpe Nursing Home, said several patients had been turned away, but all had since contacted the clinic. Their operations had been re-scheduled.

'The protesters have caused some inconvenience and have left several patients very upset,' she said. 'But in the long term they have achieved nothing. It is hard enough for these women making up their minds to go through the ordeal of an abortion. These demonstrators have made it more traumatic.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015