This is an article that was recently written by our good friend and Pro-Life warrior – Steve Abler. Please feel free to share and disseminate!
Perhaps you remember the Summer of Mercy. It was in Wichita, Kansas in 1991. Maybe you were too young to be interested in national news at that time, or perhaps you were not yet born. Now, 20 years later, it is time for Summer of Mercy 2.0. Much has changed in the intervening 20 years, and that is signified by the “2.0” appended to the original moniker “Summer of Mercy.” The object of this dissertation is threefold: to provide you with some of the history of the original Summer of Mercy; to lay out some expectations for the Summer of Mercy 2.0, accounting for some of the significant changes that have occurred in the last 20 years; and, to call you to action on behalf of the unborn in Summer of Mercy 2.0.
In 1991, Operation Rescue and other pro-life organizations planned to have a five-day event in Wichita, Kansas. Wichita was selected because it was the location of George Tiller’s abortion center, where babies in all three trimesters of development were aborted. The hope was to call national attention to the atrocities that were happening at that clinic in Wichita, leading the nation to repent of the practice of abortion. The context of that decision to launch the five-day awakening was this: abortion numbers in America were at their peak, numbering approximately 1.8 million in 1990 according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute; there were over 2000 abortion clinics operating in America, and far fewer crisis pregnancy centers. These alarming figures and the barbarism of the late-term abortions done by Tiller warranted a call to action.
What the planners could not have anticipated was a tremendous movement of the Holy Spirit convicting Christians from all over the country to go to Wichita and stay there. What was planned for five days stretched for over 6 weeks, and an estimated 30,000 people participated in what became known as the “Summer of Mercy.” Many of the participants engaged in acts of civil disobedience to protect the unborn. They locked their arms together to block the entrances to abortion clinics and lay down in the road to prevent cars from entering the clinic parking lot. Many hundreds were arrested. But the abortion activity in Wichita was significantly reduced during that time.
As a response to that summer in Wichita, in 1994 the U.S. Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act (FACE). This legislation levies stiff penalties for the kinds of civil disobedience employed in The Summer of Mercy. It is one of the significant changes in the pro-life landscape between then and now. While some may have viewed it as a defeat for the pro-life movement, it has been far from that. In fact, this change in the political and legal aspect of the struggle to protect the unborn could be one of the leading contributors to another major difference between now and then, and that is the societal difference. In the early 1990s, roughly one third of the American public claimed to be pro-life. The most recent polls show that slightly more than half of Americans now claim to be pro-life.
Any number of reasons could be cited for this societal shift. One important reason is technology. It is becoming easier and easier to use technology to demonstrate that a fetus is in fact not a blob of tissue, but that even at the early stage of 8 weeks it has fully formed fingers and toes. The rise of crisis pregnancy centers has also contributed to turning the tide of public opinion. However, probably the main reason for this change is the shift in pro-life tactics. The FACE act generally took the civil disobedience option off the table because of its felony charges, high fines, and jail time for violators. It forced the pro-life movement to turn to other methods, and the movement rediscovered the power of prayer. That is not to say that in the 90s there was no prayer to support the cause of life. But largely prayer was used as a support for other tactics, like civil disobedience, that were employed to prevent abortions. Today prayer is simply THE tactic, and because God responds when His people seek His face, it is effective.
So two decades of change will make the Summer of Mercy 2.0 very different from its predecessor. For starters, the pro-life community will now be representing the majority view of the American public! The Guttmacher institute also reports that the number of abortions is declining – estimates for recent years put the number at about two thirds of the peak number from 1990. The number of abortion centers in the country has declined to approximately 745, while there are now over 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers. This combination of societal, governmental, and tactical changes means there will be no civil disobedience or blocking of access to clinics during Summer of Mercy 2.0.
At least one thing will remain the same in the 20th century edition of the Summer of Mercy. The spotlight will be focused on the most notorious provider of late-term abortions in the country. That person is now LeRoy Carhart, who recently moved his practice to Germantown, Maryland. At this facility, women can terminate their pregnancies in any stage, even up to the moment of birth. Participants in the Summer of Mercy 2.0 will gather near Carhart’s clinic in Germantown and pray in the morning. In the afternoon, they will be involved in public witness at various locations, including the Maryland Governor’s mansion and Speaker of the House Boehner’s office. Evenings will find the participants engaged in rallies or prayer and praise events at nearby churches or at the clinic location. Details about times and locations can be found at the Summer of Mercy web site, which is http://summerofmercy.com/index.html.
The event is planned for nine days of prayer and activities – one day for each month that a baby lives inside its mother’s womb. It starts on July 30th, 2011. The first official gathering will be a rally at Covenant Life church in Gaithersburg, Maryland at 7:00 pm on the 30th. The last planned event will be a “Cross 4 Life” event near Carhart’s clinic in Germantown at 2:00 pm on Sunday, August 7th. Again, the web site has all the details and instructions.
Another thing that will be similar to the original Summer of Mercy will be that pro-abortion opposition will be on hand. Summer of Mercy planners have learned from local authorities assisting with event arrangements that the pro-abortion groups have made the Summer of Mercy 2.0 the focus of their summer efforts in 2011. They plan to have 5000 counter-demonstrators there to argue for the “right” of a woman to terminate the life of her baby. That is a significant presence. Wouldn’t it be a sad situation if Christians, who claim represent the Author of Life, allowed the culture of death to outwork and outnumber them at the Summer of Mercy 2.0? May it never be! Consider this, then your call to action – a challenge from the culture of death! They think your faith is all talk and no action, they think you are soft, and that your job and your vacation and your softball league and your pool party are higher priorities in your life than protecting the most vulnerable among us – the unborn. They have pulled off the bloody surgical gauntlet and slapped your face with it! How will you respond? Will you stand up and prove them wrong?
You can support Summer of Mercy 2.0 in many different ways. The most critical thing you can do is pray. Pray about your own participation. Pray that the pro-life presence will be far greater than the opposition. Pray that all the events will be peaceful and no arrests will be necessary. Pray that Carhart’s clinic will close. Pray that the pro-life momentum in America will continue to increase, until abortion finally ends. Pray that God will extend his mercy and grace to those who have been victimized by the abortion industry, including those who are employed by it. Pray for those who will be on hand to provide counseling for mothers who are having second thoughts about their abortion appointments. If you wish to provide monetary support, you can do so at http://summerofmercy.com/donate.html. If you feel led to participate in the scheduled events, visit http://summerofmercy.com/events.html. Find the times and locations of events that fit your schedule. Then consider what events on your schedule you can cancel in order to come to more Summer of Mercy 2.0 events. The unborn are depending on you. They cannot speak. I’ve got to speak up. Won’t you?