Have you heard of the Summer of Mercy?

The Summer of Mercy was a huge, dramatic, pro-life prayer/protest vigil numbering up to 50,000 pro-lifers and staged at 3 Wichita, Kansas, abortion mills for 6 weeks in July and August exactly 20 years ago, in 1991. There were 5,000 arrests.

Seventeen years later, in 2008, the Summer of Mercy’s influence was still felt in mainstream circles, PBS calling it “a watershed moment in the social history of America.”

But do you know anything about it?

When I became involved in the pro-life movement 12 years ago I heard passing references to the Summer of Mercy but had no idea of its magnitude until shown a video produced by the Bott Network.

Until this week that video – in fact, no video portraying the Summer of Mercy – was captured for posterity online.  Thanks to Troy Newman of Operation Rescue for making that happen. The video is 30 minutes long and fairly low quality, but it is well worth your time investment.

In the video you’ll spot many faces of historical significance to the pro-life movement – Pastor Flip Benham, Rev. Pat Mahoney, Rev. Pat Robertson, Randall Terry, Keith Tucci, and more. You’ll see 84 Wichita pastors and priests banding together and risking arrest for the sake of the babies. You’ll see Tucci arrested by a US Marshall inside a radio studio while on the air. And you’ll see a stadium filled with 40,000 pro-lifers, praying to end abortion….

At the aforementioned rally on August 25, 1991, Robertson declared, “Today marks the turning point.” Who would have thought 20 years later America would still be aborting over 1 million babies a year?

Yet much has changed.

Due to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, blockade-style abortion mill protests are no longer conducted. (Pro-lifers are much more effective when not incarcerated.) Pro-life tactics have changed in numerous ways. Now OR seeks to hang abortion mills by their own petard – working to close them because they’re filthy, creepy, and not particularly bound by the law.

Late-term abortionist George Tiller, much the focus of the Summer of Mercy, was murdered in 2009.

Today Wichita is abortion-free. One of the clinics protested in 1991 is now home to OR (photo right). One of the people arrested during the Summer of Mercy, Tim Huelskamp, is now a Kansas congressman.

We are no longer reliant on the liberal media to tell our side of the story. As seen in the video, pro-lifers in 1991 were forced to beg MSM to tell the truth. No more.

The times are changing organically. Abortions, while still high, have slowed. Americans are much more educated on abortion. The vast majority don’t like it and at best consider it a necessary evil. New laws not even dreamed of in 1991 are also slowing the abortion process down.

Read more on the Summer of Mercy in this New York Times piece from that time.

[Top photo via The Wichita Eagle; 2nd photo via the Associated Press; bottom photo via Operation Rescue]

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