Wayne Webster’s Rockford abortuary takes the lives of about 35 babies per week.  In that same time frame, however, there are two or three “turnarounds”—mothers who decide at the last moment not to execute their children.  The most likely cause is the doughty band of Christians who gather to pray outside the slaughterhouse on the two days of the week that it is open.

To Webster, turnarounds mean lost revenue, so he has tried a variety of tactics to scare the Christians away, including hanging rubber chickens in the windows of the former public school that serves as his mill, appearing outside dressed in a devil costume, threatening to spray the contents of a sewage tank on them (this, as one blogger points out, in front of a “women’s health facility”), and blasting heavy metal from loudspeakers mounted in trees in order to drown out their calls to pregnant women.

These efforts pale alongside the help his neighbor provides.  It’s not clear whether Keith Sterkeson is in Webster’s pay or if he simply acts out of his devotion to killing the yet-to-be-born, but his modus operandi is to holler profanity-laced insults and racial slurs at the faithful who are telling their beads and begging pregnant women to reconsider.  Lengthy clips of Sterkeson’s performances are available online, but watching them is hardly edifying.  (At one point, Sterke­son tells a woman walking into the abortuary, “You’re doing the right thing, Mom!”)

The videos will be used as evidence in legal action that one of the leaders in the local pro-life movement is taking against the City of Rockford.  Kevin Rilott’s case dates back three years to an incident involving a bus-stop bench located near Swedish­American Hospital on the city’s near-east side.  (Swedish­American grants admitting privileges to Rockford’s abortionist, Dennis Christensen, as it did with his predecessor, the late Richard Ragsdale.)  The city rents the backs of its benches to advertisers.  Rilott raised the money to rent one and put a placard on it that read, “Abortion Kills Children,” accompanied by a picture of a child in his mother’s womb.  Before long, the bench was defaced with spray-painted profanities.  When Rilott replaced the sign, it was defaced again.  A cycle of replacing and defacing ensued.

When Rilott at last staked out his bench, he found that among the vandals was a city bus driver, in uniform and on duty.  With videotaped evidence, Rilott filed suit against Rockford for violations of First Amendment rights and conspiracy to violate the First Amendment.  Where’s the conspiracy?  The city removed the sign before Rilott’s lease was up on the grounds that it was “too political.”  Swedish­American has since rented the space.  Implicated also in the suit are the Rockford police, for, in Rilott’s words, doing “nothing to protect” the sign after repeated complaints.

The image of the Rockford police has not been helped by the footage of their reaction to Sterkeson’s antics, nor by previous footage of an assault from last August.  At a recent press conference at which his suit was joined by the Thomas More Society, Pro-Life Law Center of Chicago, Rilott stated that, “When one of our sidewalk counselors was assaulted by someone and even threatened with bodily harm and racial slurs, the police, after taking over an hour to respond to our 911 call, did not take any action and seemed to say that we had no choice but to accept the assaults and harassment—that what happened was our fault.”

With the Thomas More Society in the fray, Rilott may get satisfaction.  TMS has brokered a meeting for Rilott and his fellow plaintiffs with Rockford’s mayor.  Mayor Larry Morrissey, a Roman Catholic who appears every year at Rockford’s largest pro-life event (a January prayer breakfast attended by 300-400 Christians of all denominations), surely would be happy to see Webster’s operation pack up and leave his town.  Seeing and hearing the demonic invective of Sterkeson and Webster, and discovering his police force’s alleged apathy in matters pertaining to the protection of citizens protesting the murder of babies, may move him to action.