By Cheryl Sullenger
Wichita, Kansas – After an arduous five days of travel and an unexpected detention in Australia, Troy Newman and his wife, Mellissa, arrived safely home in Wichita, KS at about 8 p.m. local time Saturday evening. They were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of over 30 supporters waving welcome home signs and red, white, and blue balloons.
Newman’s ordeal began when a member of the Australian Parliament who is a radical abortion supporter sent a letter to Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton seeking to cancel Newman’s visa based on blatantly false accusations that he supports violence against abortion providers.
Without fact-checking, Dutton cancelled Newman’s visa as he was beginning his flight to Australia from Wichita, Kansas. Newman never received any official notice of the cancellation since it was sent via the postal service and e-mailed to a non-existent e-mail address.
Newman was told everything was in order as he boarded the first leg of his flight from Wichita to Denver, but in Denver, he was denied permission to board his flight by United Airlines employees that never showed him any paperwork to confirm why they would not allow him to board.
Newman booked a flight to Los Angeles on another airline and was allowed to board his original flight to Melbourne without issue, having his boarding pass cleared at the gate.
Once in Australia, Newman was immediately detained. There was no issue with his wife’s visa, and she was turned out into the airport without luggage and only the clothes on her back. He was not allowed to consult with her husband or communicate with him for two days while he was incarcerated first at the airport and later at a secondary detention facility. He was kept in solitary confinement during his incarceration.
Despite efforts to clear up the misunderstanding, including letters from Australia Right to Life and from Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger, Dutton succumbed to an orchestrated social media campaign based on falsehoods despite a verbal agreement that was in place to release Newman to continue his travels. He eventually ordered Newman deported.
Record of Decision given to Newman while in detention indicated that he was accused of stating that “abortion is a most savage act of violence,” a statement Newman stands by. It was also noted that Newman was arrested outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office in March 2015, which he failed to note that his arrest was during a peaceful event where participants were arrested while kneeling in prayer in the hallway outside Boehner’s office.
Newman was also accused of traveling to Australia to speak “on the topic of the sale of body parts of aborted fetuses by Planned Parenthood clinics in the United States of America” and that these talks would pose “a risk that the public would have an adverse reaction” that could “result in protests similar to those that took place in the United States of America.”
“The fact is that the radical abortion supporters in Australia wanted to prevent me from spreading even a peaceful pro-life message that abortion clinics can close through peaceful activism using the legal tools available,” said Newman. “For a government to silence non-violent speech simply because some people disagree is contrary to the tenants of a free democracy. This is a dangerous precedent that does not bode well for the Australian people or anyone traveling there with a pro-life message. Freedom of speech in Australia is under attack, make no mistake.”
Australia Right to Life and their attorneys worked around the clock to restore Newman’s visa, but at a hearing held before the High Court in Melbourne, Newman’s deportation was ordered while his case is set to be heard in full next month.
Mary Collier of Australia Right to Life, which had invited Newman to Australia for a speaking tour, read the following statement at a press conference after the hearing:
The judge accepted there was a serious question to be tried about whether the decision to cancel Troy’s visa was valid, having regard for the implied freedom of political communication. However, the judge found that the balance of convenience did not favor the grant of interlocutory injunction to prevent his removal from Australia while that serious question is tried. On this basis, the application for an interlocutory injunction was refused. Any final determination of the matter will occur at some later date.
“I look forward to having my case heard in full and to being given an opportunity to clear my name and that of Operation Rescue from the completely false accusation that we support violence in any way,” Newman said.
The passages that were cited by the Minister of Parliament were taken out of context from a 2000 book penned by Newman and his colleague, Cheryl Sullenger, titled Their Blood Cries Out, which is currently out of print. That book, which was a theological study of the Biblical doctrine of bloodguilt, did indeed state that if abortion is murder, then it would be acceptable for the U.S. government to treat it as it does any other murder with those convicted through a court of law subject to the same punishments other murderers would face, including capital punishment.
“There is a distinct difference between saying that the Bible gives the authority to governments to execute justice, as we explained in the book, and advocating that individuals commit murder of abortion providers, as Ms. Butler erroneously has accused Mr. Newman of doing,” Sullenger wrote in a letter to Minister Dutton that sought to clear up the misunderstanding.
“Is Australia going to now jail everyone who holds the theological position that ‘abortion is a most violent act of violence’ against a pre-born human being? I’m not sure Australia has the capacity to jail everyone who thinks that,” Newman said.
Newman has a long history of advocating peaceful activism and has denounced the use of violence against abortion providers, which anyone could have easily discovered with a simple Google search, if they were really interested in the truth.
In fact, when late-term abortionist George Tiller was murdered in May 2009, Operation Rescue was among the first to denounce his killing. Newman said at that time:
We deplore the criminal actions with which Mr. Roeder is accused. The pro-life ethic is to value all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Operation Rescue has diligently and successfully worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see to it that abortionists around the nation are brought to justice. Without due process, there can be no justice. In spite of these horrific events, we remain dedicated to working through all peaceful and legal means available to bring an end to the killing of innocent children through abortion.
When pro-life activist Jim Poullion was gunned down in cold blood while holding a pro-life sign on a public street four months after Tiller’s death, Newman released the following statement:
We have received literally hundreds of death threats in the past three months. Our office has been vandalized three times. Just yesterday, the FBI was in our office and picked up a stack of threatening letters that we received. We denounce violence in the strongest terms. The bloodshed must stop both inside and outside of the abortion clinics.
When the Australian authorities were finally ready to deport him, Newman was escorted onto a United flight in Melbourne bound for Los Angeles. He was the last person to board. His travel documents were held by the flight crew until he deplaned and was escorted off the plane where he was met by U.S. courtesy officials who sped him through customs and to freedom.
Meanwhile, Australia allowed into the country a radical Islamist group that advocates “death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, promoted terrorism and preached hatred of Jews and Christians and violence against women.”
This made Newman’s visa cancellation, detention, and deportation appear to be an act of censorship of pro-life speech.
Newman vows to one day return to Australia and share his message of peaceful, legal activism to close abortion clinics and end abortion with the Australian people.
“On behalf of my wife, Mellissa, and myself, I would like to thank those who supported us throughout this ordeal. We are aware that many people worked around the clock both in Australia and the U.S. to right this wrong. We especially appreciate Australia Right to Life for their loving care of Mellissa while I was detained,” Newman said. “As General Douglas McArthur once said, ‘I shall return.’”