April 2013 – The people of Chattanooga, Tennessee, banished abortion from their precincts 20 years ago, and they never let it return. The story began with Charles Wysong, a pioneer in pro-life activism, who ignited a campaign that closed the city’s last clinic in less than one year. Step-by-step, he recounts a story that he hopes will equip others in acting to remove clinics in their own areas.
Make a commitment with others
After local hospitals discontinued abortion services due to a boycott by over 4,000 people, Wysong went to four men in his community and asked, “Would you covenant with me to close the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic?” Within a week, they were in front of the clinic every day before it opened, praying that God would stop the abortions.
Get teenagers involved
When Wysong spoke at a local youth group, pro-life warriors multiplied overnight. “Ten teenagers came out the next day,” he told AFA Journal. “They formed a group called Teenagers for an Abortion-free Chattanooga, and we’d have 75 teenagers out there. Abortions dropped from about 32 to 15 in one week. They never averaged even 20 abortions after that.”
Work in the surrounding community
Going beyond the clinic vicinity, pro-lifers passed out fliers along the main route to the clinic. “We leafleted the area with stories of women who had either died or been injured at the clinic,” he said. “We wrote, ‘If you see ambulances coming to the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic or any of their employees doing anything suspicious or illegal, please call.’ We also posted this information on public bulletin boards everywhere. And we got calls.”
Buy the clinic building
Learning that the clinic owner was in bankruptcy, the pro-lifers decided to buy the $300,000 abortion clinic building.
“We raised $40,000 that night; in 12 hours we had $60,000; and in three days we had nearly a quarter million,” he said. “A week later, we bought the building for $294,000 dollars and kicked the abortion clinic out. The former abortion clinic now houses a pregnancy center and the National Memorial to the Unborn.”
Ask for inspection, sue for malpractice
Wysong adds that, while a clinic cannot always be purchased, other tactics have successfully closed other clinics. A state inspection will often result in immediate closure.
“Inspection records are generally open to the public; if an inspection is past due, call for inspection,” he suggested. In addition, Wysong leads the American Rights Coalition assisting people in filing malpractice suits which frequently force clinics to close.
Keep clinics closed
When the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic closed in April 1993, Chattanooga became the largest city in the nation with no abortion clinic. However, maintaining that status has required continual vigilance. One close call came in 2008.
Wysong says they were unaware of the danger until a month before a new clinic’s opening date, and then there was “a furor of activity”– letters to churches, fundraising activities, demonstrations at the location, teen rallies – but most importantly prayer. The clinic never opened.
“Always start with a base of prayer,” Wysong said. “Abortionists have money, political people, media on their side, but on our side we have God and prayer, and so we’re the ones with the power, not them. There was a prevailing spirit of prayer over keeping that abortion clinic out. The abortionist never closed on the property, so we still remain abortion free.”
• Covenant with others
• Be unified
• Involve teens
• Involve community
• Involve churches
• Raise funds
• Demonstrate at location
• Work outside clinic area
• Apply boycott pressure
• Purchase the building
• Call for state inspection
• Sue for malpractice
American Rights Coalition
P.O. Box 25256
Chattanooga, TN 37422
• 70% of U.S. clinics permanently closed
• 1,500 clinics closed since 1991
• 7 clinics closed monthly in 2012
• 660 abortion clinics in U.S.
• 1.2 million babies killed yearly