1995 Clinic Violence Survey Report
Levels of clinic violence in 1995 declined substantially. Fewer clinics reported incidents of death threats, stalking, home picketing, vandalism, chemical attacks, blockades, arson and arson threats, invasions and gun fire. In every category of violence, more clinics reported decreases than increases.
Violence directed at individual physicians and clinics staff members, however, continues at unacceptably high levels. Almost one-fifth (17.1%) of clinics reported death threats in 1995. A similar proportion (20.3%) of clinics indicated that the homes of clinic staff and physicians had been picketed. One in ten (10.6%) clinics said staff and physicians had been stalked by anti-abortion extremists. Of all the types of violence, death threats had the smallest net decrease in 1995.
And these types of violence have taken their toll on clinic staff. One in ten clinics still report that staff members have quit as a result of anti-abortion violence. The murders of clinic staff in Brookline Massachusetts by John Salvi accounted for almost two-thirds of these resignations.
Decreases in clinic violence were tied directly to law enforcement response. The survey found statistically significant correlations between levels of violence and local, state, and federal law enforcement response. The level of death threats appeared to be particularly sensitive to law enforcement activities. Death threats were the only type of violence in which a statistically significant relationship was indicated with local, state, and federal law enforcement activities.
Clinics consistently reported that law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels had improved. These improvements without question have helped diminish anti-abortion violence overall. However, clinics also reported that implementation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act has not been as vigorous as it could be. Although one in five clinics reported FACE violations, very few of these reports resulted in criminal or civil action. Enforcement of FACE and the increased involvement of federal and state as well as local officials clearly is necessary to end the serious violence which continues to plague a significant proportion of clinics in the United States.