NARAL Pro-Choice Texas recently released a video exposing anti-abortion extremists’ use of alarming intimidation tactics in Texas.
The video contains audio recording of a training, entitled “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed,” hosted by anti-abortion groups at the Texas State Capitol on August 4. In it, an anti-abortion extremist can be heard telling a crowd to record and catalog the physical description of cars and license plate numbers of doctors and patients at the clinic in order to “track people.” Another speaker cites statistics on women being turned away or intimidated into leaving the clinic before receiving care. Speakers also talk about lining sidewalks outside of clinics with the hope of preventing patients from entering.
The training coincided with the first day of trial in Whole Women’s Health v. Lakey, a federal challenge to two provisions – the admitting privileges and the ambulatory surgical center requirements – of Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion bill, HB2.
“The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are those outside abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby. “With fewer clinics for these stalking protestors to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated. Texas women are now not only forced to travel hundreds of miles to even access a safe and legal Texas clinic, but once they reach a clinic they must also confront the very real threat posed by these anti-abortion activists. The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives.”
Access to abortion in Texas has been significantly reduced since HB2, with nearly half of all abortion providers in the state forced to stop providing services, according to a study released last month by the Texas Evaluation Project. Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health, reports that she has been forced to close three of five clinics in the wake of HB2 and that the absence of abortion providers has already led some Texas women to resort to dangerous self-induced or illegal abortions.
The intersection between clinic violence, including harassment and intimidation of abortion providers, and lack of access to comprehensive reproductive health care was described in detail last week by Federal US District Court Judge Myron Thompson in a 172-page opinion finding unconstitutional an Alabama TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion provider) law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges.
Media Resources: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Press Release 8/12/14; Youtube, 8/12/13; RH Reality Check 8/4/14; Feminist Newswire 8/5/14; 7/28/14, 3/6/14