print Print    Share Share  

1993 Clinic Violence Suvey Report


Clinics and clinic personnel during the first seven months of 1993 have experienced some of the most severe forms of anti-abortion violence and intimidation. One provider in her survey stated, "Not a minute goes by that we are not vigilant and concerned about dangerous threats."

Death threats were the most frequently reported form of anti-abortion violence. Of the clinics responding to the survey, 21% received death threats to clinic staff during the first seven months of 1993. 18.1% percent of clinics reported bomb threats. Blockades have been set up at 16% of clinics. Clinic personnel have been stalked at 14.9% of clinics. Invasions have occurred at 14.6% of the clinics. 10.3% of clinics experienced chemical attacks. Arson was reported at 1.8% of clinics.

Graph 1


Many clinics experienced an increase in anti-abortion violence after the murder of Dr. David Gunn. On the day Gunn was slain, one Florida clinic was called with the message: "One down - how many more?" That same day another clinic received three gun shots through its front panels.

Anti-abortion violence has threatened the lives and well-being of clinic personnel. One physician has received five different death threats in person or through the mail. Another clinic reported that three rounds of gunfire were shot through the front window of the home of a physician and his family while they were at home. Clinic staff and their families and friends have been stalked as they travel to their work, homes, churches, malls, and grocery stores. In at least two facilities, staff have suffered long-term disability due to respiratory problems from the caustic butyric acid used.

Tactics of intimidation and violence are directed not only at abortion providers and women seeking abortions, but also at the children of clinic staff, volunteer escorts, vendors, landlords, and fellow tenants where clinics are located. One clinic reported that an anti-abortion extremist said someone should kill the clinic director's daughter so "she can see how it feels." In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a landlord broke a lease with The Women's Clinic after he and his family received threats from anti-abortion extremists. In court, the landlord's wife testified to receiving threatening calls: "[The callers said] 'You're killing our children. [So] we're going after your children.' They threatened our life and the life of my children ... It was just very frightening." Another clinic reported that a locksmith received death threats and threats to destroy his business after he repaired locks into which glue had been poured by anti-abortion extremists.

Security costs for clinics are escalating. Clinics are spending thousands of dollars annually for guards, electronic security systems, private investigators, razor wire on rooftops, alarms, bullet proof jackets, and other security devices. Some clinics have been forced to search all patients' belongings as they enter the clinics because anti-abortion extremists carrying weapons have masqueraded as patients. Hours before she shot Dr. George Tiller, Shelley Shannon entered the Women's Health Care Services clinic in Wichita, Kansas. With a handgun concealed in her purse, Shannon spoke with clinic staff, made an appointment to have an abortion, and walked around the facility.