Kentucky Gov. Met With Extremist Anti-Choice Group Operation Save America

Back in February, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin met with the extremist anti-choice group Operation Save America (OSA) and praised a book by an activist who has defended the murder of abortion providers, according to an account of the meeting posted by OSA.

OSA, formerly known as Operation Rescue, is focusing its current efforts in Kentucky, where Bevin has been attempting to shut down the state’s only remaining surgical abortion clinic. Last month, 10 OSA protesters were arrested for blocking the clinics doors, a throwback to the clinic-blockading “rescues” that the group helped to pioneer in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the 1994 federal law prohibiting such physical blockades of clinics.

At a February meeting of the group’s leadership in Louisville, OSA held an anti-abortion protest outside a middle school and a high school before having a 30-minute meeting with Bevin, according to an account posted on OFA’s website with a photo. (Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo flagged the meeting in a story last month):

… OSA had a divine appointment with the Governor of Kentucky. The Governor of Kentucky publicly addressed us for 30 minutes. He really did not share with us much politically. He ministered from God’s word and called us to authentic, genuine Christianity. Afterwards, he graciously gave us some private time as well. We were able to pray for him and challenge him with the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate and the abolition of abortion. He told Pastor Matt Trewhella and the rest of us that he read the book and has passed it to others.

Pastor Matt gave him a signed copy, plus other important materials, along with this cover letter that we signed.

According to OSA, Bevin praised the book “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates” by Matt Trewhella, who attended the meeting. Trewhella, a frequent fixture at OSA events, was one of the anti-choice activists who signed a “defensive action statement” defending the murder of abortion providers in the early 1990s. Trewhella’s book argues that government officials have a duty to “interpose” against and openly defy “unjust/immoral laws,” including those ensuring legal abortion and LGBTQ rights. He once said that homosexuality “needs to be suppressed through the force of law.

The New York Times noted in 1995 that Trewhella had “ties to the paramilitary movement” and once urged parents to begin “arming their children with assault rifles instead of teaching them to play pin the tail on the donkey.”

OSA, with Trewhella’s help, is trying to convince Bevin to go beyond his efforts to shut down the state’s sole abortion clinic and instead to, in the words of OSA’s Rusty Thomas, “convene an emergency session of the Kentucky Legislature to pass a bill criminalizing abortion in Kentucky and ignoring the [Supreme] Court.” (In November, Trewhella blasted Bevin for removing the names of county clerks from marriage certificates rather than banning same-sex marriages outright, saying that Bevin was “going to help accommodate the evil of homosexual marriage.)

Along with its connections with activists like Trewhella who have supported violence against abortion providers, OSA promotes extremist views on abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, and religious minorities. Earlier this week, Thomas posted on Facebook that women who have abortions should be treated as murderers, saying that unless a woman is herself a “victim,” she needs to “face justice just like any other person who commits crimes of this magnitude.” One OSA leader said at the group’s gathering in Wichita last year that Satan was staging a “homosexual invasion” of America and argued that the women’s movement—starting with women’s suffrage—had “devalued our women” by putting them in the workforce. Back in 2010, the group vowed to protest “mosques across the nation”; at an OSA protest that year in New York, activists shouted “Jesus hates Muslims.”

In July, the extremist group will hold a “national event” in Louisville to ask God “to shut down the last remaining abortion mill in Kentucky,” join “a state representative to work on a bill to abolish abortion in Kentucky,” and “break America’s Covenant with Death.”