Pete “Spare Tire” DeGraaf’s Operation Rescue Ties

Via Think Progress, Republican Kansas state representative Pete DeGraaf thinks that women should be prepared to be raped in the same way that he keeps a spare tire in his car.

During floor debate over a bill to require women to purchase supplemental coverage in the event that they may need an abortion, a pro-choice state representative, Republican Barbara Bollier, questioned whether women would in fact plan for a pregnancy resulting from, for example, rape. To which DeGraaf responded, “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?” adding, “I have spare tire on my car.”

His online biography at Shepherds Staff Ministries, where DeGraaf, an Air Force Academy graduate and an ordained pastor, is a “biblical” financial advisor, boasts, “During the Summer of Mercy he served as Executive Director for Hope for the Heartland.” The Summer of Mercy was a six-week abortion clinic blockade, organized by the fringe anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, that took place in Wichita in 1991, and focused on the clinic run by Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated in his church in 2009. (A Summer of Mercy event is planned for this summer outside the Maryland clinic of Dr. Leroy Carhart, another target of vicious anti-choice agitators.)

Writing about the Summer of Mercy in Marie Claire in 2007, Amanda Robb described the 1991 Wichita scene:

That August, in Wichita, KS, whole families crawled across parking lots, winding up as heaps of “babies” at clinic doors. Children laid down in front of doctors’ cars to stop them from driving to work. Protestors closed down every clinic in town.

After the Summer of Mercy and other similar events intended to harass and intimidate abortion doctors, Robb wrote, “abortion doctors started getting shot,” including her uncle, Bart Slepian.
According to a contemporaneous news account of the Summer of Mercy, the Operation Rescue group turned over its local activities to Hope for the Heartland:
Tomorrow belongs largely to the religious right, as a newly formed Wichita group called Hope for the Heartland sponsors an outdoor anti-abortion rally boasting such names as Robertson and the Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association.

Tomorrow’s rally is expected to mark Operation Rescue’s bow out of Wichita and the handing over of its “Summer of Mercy” to local leadership.

“It’s a wildfire,” said Hope for the Heartland spokeswoman Mary Wilkinson. She said local anti-abortion forces were getting ready for an education and legislative campaign in the city to “make abortion unnecessary.”

Fast forward 20 years, and DeGraaf appears to be carrying out those legislative efforts.

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