Arch-anti-abortion activist Randall Terry made his name during the “Summer of Mercy” protests outside of George Tiller’s abortion clinic in Witchita, Kansas, in 1991. Terry’s calling card was the use sickening images like posters of bloody fetuses. He had an actual dead fetus delivered to Bill Clinton in 1992.
The goremeister faded from the public eye in subsequent years and was subject to unwanted attention when he divorced his wife of 19 years — the kind of act he had once railed against — went bankrupt, got kicked out of his church for inappropriate relationships with multiple women, and disowned two of his foster children. But the past, of course, is prologue. And now Terry is now seeking to mount a comeback.
This public resurrection began several years ago during the Terri Schiavo affair, when Randall Terry served as a spokesperson for Schiavo’s parents. It continued in earnest a few months ago when Barack Obama spoke at Notre Dame and Terry helped lead the protests against him. When Dr. George Tiller was murdered in May, Terry made headlines again after posting a YouTube video that assailed the late doctor as a “mass murderer” who “had blood all over his hands.” And now, Tiller is drawing attention to the anti-abortion cause by protesting the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Inside the hearing room, protester after protester interrupted the statements of Democratic senators — including Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, and Dick Durbin — with cries of “What about the unborn?” and “Abortion is murder! Defend life!” Randall Terry led this coordinated effort. And outside the Senate office building, he held a press conference that drew about 20 supporters and five television cameras. He claimed that any pro-life senator who votes to confirm (or refuses to filibuster) Sotomayor is guilty of “treachery, hypocrisy, laziness, and betrayal.” At his side was Norma McCorvey, more famously known as Jane Roe of “Roe v. Wade” fame. In the 1990s she repented of her previous support for abortion rights and became a right-to-life crusader.
Whether Terry’s latest gambit for public attention is fleeting or has staying power remains to be seen. A few headlines do not a movement make. But Terry still claims to be a vehicle for the greatest power of all: “‘I’m just really close to him,’ Terry said of God. ‘I only speak for him when I quote him.’” We shall see.
Jesse Lava also blogs at jesselava.com.