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Radical Anti-Choice Leader Detained in Australia, Pending Deportation

Teddy Wilson

Troy Newman, the president of the radical anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, was scheduled to embark on a ten-day speaking tour in Australia. An Australian lawmaker raised concerns that the visit would contribute to the “harassment and intimidation” of women looking to access reproductive health care.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

The Australian government has detained a radical American anti-choice activist who attempted to enter the country despite having his visa revoked, after one of the country’s lawmakers raised concerns that the visit would contribute to the “harassment and intimidation” of women looking to access reproductive health care.

Troy Newman, the president of the radical anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, was scheduled to embark on a ten-day speaking tour in Australia. Newman was detained in Melbourne after attempting to enter Australia, and is being held pending deportation, which could take up to 72 hours according to a statement by Operation Rescue.  

Newman boarded a flight on Tuesday in Wichita, Kansas, bound for Los Angeles in route to Melbourne. While boarding a connecting flight in Denver, Newman was detained and told he could not board his flight to Los Angeles because of an order by the Australian government.

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Newman took a cell phone video documenting the incident, which was then posted on YouTube. The video shows airline officials preventing Newman from boarding the flight to Los Angeles. “You cannot continue due to the Australian embassy … You need to contact the Australian embassy,” an unidentified airline official said in the video.

The video shows Newman becoming verbally combative with the airline officials, who repeatedly told him that he would have to contact the Australian embassy.

Terri Butler, a member of the Australian parliament, sent a letter Monday to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, saying that if Newman were allowed in the country, it would “cause significant harm to our community” because he has called for the execution of abortion doctors.

“I can confirm that my department has cancelled the visa for Mr. Troy Newman under Section 128 of the Migration Act,” Dutton said Wednesday, reported the Guardian. “Mr Newman can appeal for a revocation of this decision and no further comment will be made during this appeal period.”

“How a foreign government can ban an American from traveling within the U.S. is beyond me. It is a complete violation of Troy’s rights as a U.S. citizen,” Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue, said in a statement. “This is political persecution, plain and simple, as well as an attempt to silence the pro-life message in Australia.”

Sullenger has a history of anti-choice violence, and was convicted of attempting to bomb a San Diego abortion clinic in 1988.

Newman was somehow able to board an United Airlines flight bound for Australia. The airline now faces a fine for transporting a person into the country who does not have a valid visa, a spokesperson for Dutton told the Australian news outlet ABC.

Lawyers representing Newman have reportedly filed an appeal of the deportation and a hearing is scheduled for Friday.

In her letter, Butler quoted from a book co-authored by Newman, Their Blood Cries Out. Butler included a passage from the book that argues that the United States government has a responsibility that involves “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.”

Operation Rescue relocated to Wichita in 2002 to continue a decades-long intimidation campaign against abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, a physician who provided abortion care and whom Operation Rescue officials frequently referred to as “Tiller the Killer.”

Anti-choice activist Scott Roeder murdered Tiller at his church in 2009, and while Newman condemned the killing, his group has continued to be associated with activists who promote violence against abortion providers and clinics.

Penny Wong, a Labor Party leader in Australia, said in a statement that she supported Butler’s request for the visa to be cancelled.

“Mr. Newman’s public comments go well beyond what would be regarded as acceptable debate in this country,” Wong said. “His views are repugnant. Mr. Newman’s presence in Australia risks inciting intimidation and violence against vulnerable women.”

Right to Life of Australia invited Newman to promote a series of videos published by the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress. The videos, released in coordination with GOP lawmakers, feature heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials.

Newman is a founding member of CMP, and he has been named as a defendant in two lawsuits against the group.

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