The Chilling Tactics Of Anti-Choice Activists

ABORTION PROVIDERS ROUTINELY FACE THREATS AND INTIMIDATION

Pro-Live-Choice

The lunatics at the ultra-conservative WorldNetDaily (WND) are at it again, this time spreading lies and faux-outrage regarding acts of violence perpetrated against those ever-peaceful pro-life protesters in an article is entitled “Bull’s-eye! Violence Stalks Pro-life Protesters: Attack numbers tell story that shocks activists,” and let me tell you – I, too, was shocked at the level of lies inclusive within the article.

The article begins with the story of the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon on September 11, 2009. It was evidently the first and only time an activist had ever been murdered while protesting abortion. [I looked all over the place and could not find another instance of a pro-life activist who was murdered while protesting. It may have happened, but I could not find any reference to another incident.]



The article begins with a lot of misinformation we have debunked about the murder of Jim Pouillon, 63, a pro-life activist on Sept. 11, 2009, just outside a high school in the small Michigan town of Owosso.

WND writes that “Most of the attacks aimed at pro-life activists, of course, are less extreme than Pouillon’s case,” adding that:

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They elaborate on the concept of the persecution of pro-lifers without any factual support. They do mention Human Life International, a pro-life non-profit, claiming they have compiled “massive amounts of data surrounding violence and crimes perpetrated for the pro-abortion cause,” however, they do not link to the data and dispute it themselves multiple times claiming their numbers “drastically underestimate the true total,” or “the real numbers are likely far higher.” We took the time to find that information, but it is far more laughable than that presented by WND in their article.

On the other hand, we were able to find considerable data on attacks perpetrated against doctors and clinics providing women’s reproductive services to include abortion and against pro-life activists.

An article by Salon from September of last year regarding anti-abortion activists who were “descending on Albuquerque, N.M., picketing not just clinics but the city’s Holocaust Museum, and targeting local abortion providers as ‘killers,” provides some excellent background regarding the history of pro-choice activists being anything but nonviolent.

The focus on Albuquerque echoes the targeting of Wichita, Kan. Beginning in the early 1990s, antiabortion activists set their sights on Wichita because it was home to the medical practice of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians in the Midwest who performed late-term abortions. Over the summer of 1991, antiabortion activists, largely organized by the group Operation Rescue, flocked to Wichita to assault Dr. Tiller’s clinic and two others. Over six weeks there were 2,600 arrests. While antiabortion activists had committed acts of violence before, 1991′s “Summer of Mercy” turned it up a notch. Since 1991, there have been 17 attempted murders of abortion providers. One of those providers was Dr. Tiller, who was shot twice in the arm outside his health center in 1993. Eight clinic workers have been killed, starting with Dr. David Gunn and two clinic receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, in 1994, and extending through 2009 when Dr. Tiller was shot to death at church.

Salon also elaborated on the direct involvement of pro-life groups and organizations in these kinds of acts of aggression, writing:

Every clinic bombed or burned, and every clinician assaulted or killed, had been previously picketed, targeted or assailed by antiabortion groups like Operation Rescue and the Army of God. Operation Rescue issued “Wanted” posters of abortion providers, often listing their home addresses. Several of the doctors listed on the posters, including David Gunn, George Patterson, John Britton and George Tiller, were killed by antiabortion zealots.
 
The individuals who commit acts of violence against abortion providers and clinics often have ties to antiabortion organizations. James Kopp, who killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in New York, worked alongside Operation Rescue’s then-leader Randall Terry, driving with him from New York to Atlanta to begin the 1988 protests that put Operation Rescue on the map. In Atlanta, Kopp was jailed along with Terry and several Operation Rescue volunteers who went on to commit acts of violence: Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon, who shot Dr. Tiller in 1993; John Arena, who used butyric acid to attack abortion clinics; Normal Weslin, the founder of the radical group the Lambs of Christ; and Andrew Cabot, who reportedly called a man charged with murdering abortion providers a “hero.”
 
Many of the murderers of abortion providers had some affiliation with the group the Army of God. Nearly all of the murders were condemned by mainstream antiabortion groups. But those groups didn’t reconsider their rhetoric, organizing or tactics; they only amped them up.

To get an overview of the extent of these kinds of acts against providers of abortion services and patients, we defer to an outstanding, if not depressing, analysis provided by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a non-profit organization working to protect and expand reproductive freedom. As they note on their website, “Fortune Magazine has described NARAL Pro-Choice America as ‘one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.'”

NARAL published a report on January 1, 2014 entitled “Anti-Choice Violence And Intimidation” with the following chilling introduction:

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In another chilling section, the report details the fact that “abortion providers are routinely subjected to violence,” noting the following areas:

BOMBINGS AND ARSONS:

  • For people working to help women exercise their freedom to choose, the threats of bombings and arsons are quite real. Between 1977 and 2011, at least 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 100 attempted bombings and arsons, and 656 bomb threats have been directed at abortion providers.[10] The following are just a few examples of the arsons and bombings that have been directed against abortion providers.

CHEMICAL VANDALISM

  • Between late May and early July 1998, 19 abortion clinics in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were vandalized with butyric acid, an extremely noxious industrial chemical, sending clinic staff and patients to hospitals with respiratory problems and nausea and closing clinics for weeks at a time.[4] Clean-up after such an attack requires replacement of equipment, floorboards, and anything the chemical contacts.[5]
  • Since 1991, abortion clinics have been subject to at least 100 incidents of noxious chemical vandalism, with estimated total damages of over $1 million.[6]

ABORTION PROVIDERS ROUTINELY FACE THREATS AND INTIMIDATION:

  • Abortion opponents across the country use threats to harass and intimidate doctors and their family members, including young children. Since 1998, there have been 663 anthrax or bioterrorism threats against abortion providers.[7] This conduct is part of a deliberate campaign to eliminate women’s access to abortion by closing clinics and terrorizing health-care providers.

The report offers this grim story as an example of the kinds of threats and intimidation used. According to physician Pablo Rodriguez,

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There is also a case study referenced in the report:

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The report also notes incidents of

  • Family members and others put at risk;
  • Internet threats and intimidation to include webcasts of clinic entrances;
  • Threats made to future abortion providers.

And the report provides chilling information regarding:

  • The extraordinary protective measures necessary to insure optimal safety for physicians and staff;
  • How anti-choice violence exacerbates the shortage of abortion providers.

The report concludes noting:

Although federal and state clinic protection laws have alleviated some forms of violence against reproductive-health centers, the threats, intimidation, and violence against clinic providers and staff continue. These actions hinder access to abortion services and threaten the lives of those dedicated to ensuring a woman’s right to choose.


FOOTNOTES:

1. The National Abortion Federation’s (NAF) statistics include incidents from both the United States and Canada. NAF derives most of its statistics from its members, most of whom are in the United States. NAF, NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada at http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/stats_table2010.pdf (last visited Aug. 28, 2012).

2. The National Abortion Federation, NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada at http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/stats_table2010.pdf (last visited Aug. 28, 2012).

3. The National Abortion Federation, NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada at http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/stats_table2010.pdf (last visited Aug. 28, 2012).

4. Melissa Healy, FBI Probing Acid Attacks at 19 Abortion Clinics Nationwide, L.A. TIMES, July 20, 1998, at A4.

5. Patricia Baird-Windle & Eleanor J. Bader, Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, OFF OUR BACKS, Aug. 1, 2002.

6. NAF, Butyric Acid Attacks, at http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/butyric_acid.asp; see also NAF, Noxious Chemical Vandalism Incidents at Abortion Clinics (2000), at http://www.prochoice.org/violence/acid.htm.

7. Andria Simmons, OB-GYNS worried burglaries, fires are retaliation, ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION, May 24, 2012 at http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/ob-gyns-worried-burglaries-fires-are-retaliation/nQT4d/ (last visited Oct. 19, 2012); Andria Simmons, Women’s clinics on heightened alert, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, May 25, 2012 at http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/womens-clinics-on-heightened-alert/nQT5w/ (last visited Oct. 19, 2012).

8. Pablo Rodriguez, The Doctor in the Bulletproof Vest, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 28, 1998, at A29.

9. Kimberley Sevcik, One Man’s God Squad: Troy Newman’s Plan to Stop Abortions in Wichita, Kansas, ROLLING STONE, July 28, 2004.

10. NAF, NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada (Dec. 2009) at http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/documents/Stats_Table2011.pdf (Last visited Aug. 28, 2012).