Operation Save America, a pro-life group aiming to bring down the abortion industry in the country, is launching a new campaign called "States of Refuge" with one specific goal in mind – to take advantage of what it says is declining support for abortion and eradicate the practice from the U.S. altogether.
The Rev. Flip Benham, national director of Operation Save America, firmly declared in an interview with The Christian Post: "We are winning the battle. What we want to do is push abortion into a shallow grave and bury it forever, leaving no market above its place. We want this horrible abomination to be gone, as slavery was 150 years ago."
Benham is perhaps most well-known for his life-changing encounter with Norma McCorvey, the woman represented as "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade. Benham, due to their 1994 meeting, is credited with leading McCorvey to Christ, which led to her becoming a pro-life activist.
The "States of Refuge" campaign plans to shut down the remaining abortion clinics in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. If it succeeds, these will be the first "abortion-free" states in the nation, and Benham believes it will pave the way for other states to go the same way and rid themselves of the practice.
The effort is modeled in part after the "Cities of Refuge" found in the Old Testament of the Bible, as an introduction on the "States of Refuge" website explains:
"As you may recall, there were six Levitical cities set apart in Israel for refuge in the cases of questionable deaths. These cities were established by God to provide asylum till proof of innocence or guilt against the accused could be established. These cities were also designed to protect Israel from blood guiltiness, lest the avenger of blood pursue and kill an innocent person."
Benham elaborated on why he feels the tide is turning in America in favor of the pro-life movement.
"We believe that now, with the numbers of abortions down by almost 40 percent, the number of abortion mills has dropped almost 65 percent, and the number of doctors doing abortions has also dropped close to 40 percent, we are winning this battle, and the time is now for the Church to rise up and wait not for political parties, or the president, or Congress, or the Supreme Court to take care of the issue. It is our responsibility. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ."
"Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will end – and not one second sooner," he added.
When asked about what role the 2012 presidential elections may play in the fight against abortion, the campaign leader said "none."
"They (politicians) very rarely talk about that over 60 million – one-third of the generation 39 years old or younger is dead (due to abortion). I think that is one of the most major wars that we have ever been in."
"It is THE major issue. It is why God is draining America's wealth, it is why 19 guys with box cutters can bring this nation to its knees, it is why there are many judgments on this land," Benham said. "We are sacrificing His children."
Addressing what might have been the turning point that changed attitudes toward abortion, the reverend explained: "The zenith of the pro-abortion movement was in 1991. Abortion steadily increased from Jan. 22, 1973 to 1991 – even under 12 years of Republican presidency, from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush."
"What's interesting is that what marked the radical downturn of abortions was the election of Bill Clinton. He did everything for the abortion industry, except build an abortion mill in the West Wing of the White House. He gave them whatever they wanted – and yet the abortions started going down. In 1991, there were over 2,000 free-standing abortion mills in the U.S. Today, there are 678."
Turning to the potential reasons for such a shift, he noted, "It is not that we passed a piece of legislature to tackle this – abortion is not a political issue. It is a Gospel issue. If the Church of Jesus Christ goes out to these abortion mills and gives mothers a real choice, we will win – and we are winning."
Benham continued, "The majority of people believe that abortion is wrong. The heart of this nation is changing – and the laws will only reflect that. You don't legislate abortion to be gone – you can't do it from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. It doesn't matter who is elected president, or if Obama gives himself seven more terms – we will win this battle because we are bringing the Gospel of Christ to the gates of hell where they will not prevail."
Paul Rondeau, the executive director for the American Life League, which describes itself as the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life education organization in the United States, confirmed to The Christian Post that abortion rates were indeed falling and public opinions were changing.
"There can be no doubt that abortion is a dying industry under siege," Rondeau commented. "In the last twenty years, as the public learns more and more about the gruesome reality of abortions, surgical and medical abortions have dropped from 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.21 million in 2010. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in the word, which receives almost $500 million annually in taxpayer dollars, has bucked this trend.
"Although Planned Parenthood tries to portray itself as a health care provider, it has increased its share of the abortion industry in the Unites States by over 300 percent. From less than 1 in 10, Planned Parenthood now commits more than 1 in 4 of all abortions; 329,445 surgical abortions in 2010 alone. This helps explain why abortion profiteers like Planned Parenthood are being defunded in growing numbers at the state level. And, for the first time, Congress has attempted to do the same at the federal level."
The executive director went on to explain that a 2009 Gallup Poll revealed for the first time that those who self-identify as pro-life are a 51 percent majority in the United States.
On the subject of what role politics might play in the future of abortion in the United States, Rondeau explained, "We do not endorse any political candidates. However, it is well known that President Obama threatened to shut down the Unites States government rather than cut one penny from Planned Parenthood in the budgeting process.
"His Secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services), Kathleen Sebelius, has threatened states that cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and circumvented others. She may even be implicated in the criminal destruction of evidence crucial to felony investigations of Planned Parenthood in Kansas while she was governor. ALL has publicly called for her immediate resignation."
"This administration has undermined conscious and religious exemptions for medical professionals and required that insurance companies pay for medical abortions. The anti-life list is long," he continued.
"Nevertheless, as an orthodox Catholic organization that has fought for 30 years for a culture that respects intrinsic human rights, starting with the most fundamental – the right to life – we look at all the indicators and believe the tide has turned. We pray that the American electorate will elect a president this year who does not propose that protecting innocent human life is above his pay grade."
A recent World Health Organization study published in The Lancet looked at global abortion rates form a different angle, revealing that, although global abortions in general have also flattened out (to 28 per 1,000 women a year in 2008), another factor to consider is that the number of abortions carried out in unsafe environments or without trained clinical help has been rising and putting women in great danger. The global rates rose from 44 percent in 1995 to 49 percent in 2008.