He’s Back: Anti-Abortion Crusader Randall Terry Leads the Protests at Notre Dame

By MichaelJames

May 17, 2009 7:59am

ABC News’ Jon Garcia and John Hendren report:

Randall Terry, the outspoken, sometimes in-your-face former head of Operation Rescue is back in the limelight, helping lead a six-week-old anti-abortion protest against school officials at the University of Notre Dame.

At issue for Terry is the decision by Notre Dame president the Rev. John I. Jenkins to allow President Obama to speak at Sunday’s graduation.

"Notre Dame is the premier institution of the Catholic church in the western hemisphere. Obama is the premier promoter of child killing in the western hemisphere. When you have that kind of epic thing going on, it demands a response from the whole Catholic world," Terry told ABCNews’ John Hendren in an interview outside Notre Dame. 

The one-time Pentecostal lay missionary spent much of the 1980s leading anti-abortion activists in large scale acts of civil disobedience — including blocking entrances to family planning and medical facilities where abortions were performed. His protests garnered national media attention and frequently landed him in jail.  In the years since he left Operation Rescue, he’s run for public office twice — and lost twice.

He converted to the Catholic faith a few years ago and has seized on the Obama commencement address at the famed Catholic university as a way of pushing the abortion issue back to the forefront of public consciousness.

"Abortion is an intrinsic evil. It is a higher crime than any other crime that we have on the face of the earth," Terry said, as his fellow protestors surrounded him outside of the main gate of Notre Dame, praying loudly. "We want our bishops to start acting like apostles.  If … bishops really stood up and said, ‘This isn’t gonna happen,’ we wouldn’t be in this mess right now. The reason why we have President Obama is because our bishops do not rightly express their duty to defend life."

Notre Dame campus police have stopped Terry and other protestors from taking their message on campus. The 50-year-old Terry has already been arrested for trespassing once during the protest, as has former presidential candidate and activist Alan Keyes.

Though the numbers of protestors have been relatively small, Terry predicted there will be hundreds more protestors during the Obama speech. And possibly hundreds more arrests.

"Let’s start filling the jails now," Terry said, "so we can have a witness that reaches to the world against this treachery and this betrayal." 

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