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1994 Clinic Violence Survey Report

One in Ten Clinics Lost Staff: But Staff Losses Less Than 1993

In comparison with 1993 survey data, fewer clinic staff members quit during the first seven months of 1994 as a result of violence<. In 1994, 8.9% of clinics (28) lost employees as a result of violence and intimidation. Last year, almost one-third of the clinics who responded reported that a staff member had resigned for this reason.

Clinics in 1994 experienced the resignation of physicians, nurses, and administrative personnel. In one-quarter of these clinics, the staff member who resigned was a physician, 42% of those who resigned were nurses and 32% were administrators or staff assistants. Some clinics experienced multiple resignations as in the case of one clinic which, since January 1994, had to replace a physician, a nurse and two administrative assistants.

Other Health Services Disrupted at Clinics: 92.4% of Clinics Provide Services In Addition to Abortion

Anti-abortion violence not only has limited access to abortion, but also has prevented patients, particularly low-income women and their families, from receiving a wide range of other important health care services. Of the clinics that responded to the survey, almost all (94.9%) reported that they provided services in addition to abortion.

Most clinics (92.4%) provided birth control. Other services included cancer screening, provided by 69.7% (219) clinics; menopause counseling and treatment, provided by 50.3% (158) clinics; PMS counseling and treatment, provided by 49.7% (156) clinics; tubal ligation, provided by 35.7% (112) clinics; infertility counseling and treatment, provided by 27.1% (85) clinics; pre-natal care, provided by 26.1% (82) clinics; adoption and related services, provided by 23.9% (75) clinics; and vasectomies, provided by 16.2% (5 1) clinics. (See Table 5).

Table 5: Other Services Avaiiable at Women's Health Care Clinics, 1994.

Many clinics reported providing a range of additional services such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, drug screening, marriage physicals, vaccinations, yearly gynecological exams, donor insemination, pregnancy testing and informational services such as workshops, seminars and forums on issues relating to women's health. Clearly, the great majority of women's clinics provide an important range of critical health services.

Death Threats Rise Since July 1994 Pensacola Murders

"...we will see the beginning of massive killing of abortionists and their staffs."

--David C. Trosch, "Justifiable Homicide," Letter addressed to the U.S. Congress, July 16, 1994.

One grim statistic not covered by the survey is the number of killings and clinic personnel shootings since 1991. In 1991 two clinic workers were shot at a Springfield, Missouri clinic. One worker was paralyzed from the waist down, the other was wounded in the stomach. In 1993, Dr. David Gunn was killed outside a clinic in Pensacola, Florida, Dr. George Tiller was shot outside of his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, and Dr. Wayne Patterson was killed in Mobile, Alabama. This year, Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort James Barrett were killed in Pensacola. June Barrett, James Barrett's spouse, survived gunshot wounds. The tactic of shooting doctors has spread to neighboring countries. In November, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot while eating breakfast in his home in Vancouver, Canada.

Furthermore, the shooting spree which resulted in the death of Dr. Britton and Barrett was not a random event. Murdering doctors has become an accepted tactic by some extremists in the anti-abortion movement. Last year a declaration signed by over 30 anti-abortion extremists outlined their position of "Justifiable Homicide" against practitioners of abortion. Britton and Barrett were murdered by petition author, Paul Hill, who attempted to use the justifiable homicide defense in court during his murder trial.

The death of James Barrett and the attempted murder of June Barrett shows that even those who provide protection for doctors are also at risk. In an open letter to the United States Congress, David Trosch, a Catholic priest and strong advocate of justifiable homicide, warned that those persons connected with abortion-providing doctors are also at risk of becoming targets for anti-abortion extremist activity.

The murders of Britton and Barrett appear to have escalated death threats against clinic personnel. The survey measured increases in types of violence following the July 29th Pensacola murders. Since July, 16.6 % (52) clinics reported an increase in death threats. This statistic is especially striking when placed in the context of other types of violence. Only 5.4% (17) of the clinics reported an increase in stalking; 2.9% (9) reported an increase in bomb threats, 2.9% (9) reported an increase in blockades, 2.2% (7) reported an increase in bombings, 1.9% (6) reported an increase in arson threats, 1.6% (5) reported an increase in clinic invasions, 1.3% (4) reported an increase in arson, and .3% (1) reported an increase in chemical attacks. (See Table 6).

Table 6: Percentage of Clinics Reporting Increases in Violence by Type Since July 1994 Pensacola Murders

In addition to the rise in death threats after the July murders, another alarming pattern emerged. Our data analysis found a statistically significant correlation between violence and clinic status since the murders of Britton and Barrett. Clinics were asked to assess anti-abortion violence following the July 29th murders. From July 29 through the Fall of 1994, the survey found that non-profit clinics -- which often are more economically vulnerable -- were targeted by anti-abortion violence. Some of the most threatening acts of violence were perpetrated against staff and buildings at non-profit clinics: 40.4% of clinics that reported death threats, 52.9% of clinics that reported stalking and 71.4% of clinics that reported bombin2s were nonprofits. (See Chart 1). Chemical attacks, blockades and invasions, however, appear to be more prevalent at for-profit clinics and private doctor's offices.

Some clinics that experienced little anti-abortion violence in 1993 or early in 1994 suddenly found themselves besieged by violence and threats after the July murders. In Vermont, for example, one bombing was the only form of violence during the first seven months of 1994 reported by the seven clinics participating in the survey. But since the murders, four Vermont clinics recorded increases in bombings, bomb threats, and arson threats.

Furthermore, anti-abortion violence since July was not limited to clinics and doctors who provided abortions. Although not included in the final results of the survey, some non-abortion providing clinics reported incidents of anti-abortion violence. Clinics in Falls Church, VA; Brainerd, MN; Cloquet, MN; Sydney, OH; and St. Albans, VT, and Rapids City, SD were fire bombed after July 29, 1994. Only one arrest has been made (in the Vermont incident), and no FACE charges have been filed. With the exception of the Virginia facility all of the clinics provided family planning, and none provided abortions. As in the past, anti-abortionists are not limiting acts of terrorism to abortion-providers.