Roman Catholic priests and anti-abortion rights advocates gathered this morning for a Mass at the Verizon Center in Washington DC before participating in the annual March for Life. Operation Rescue, based in Wichita, Kansas, is also holding a series of anti-abortion protests in Germantown, Maryland today against Dr. Lee Carhart, who works at the clinic there. The Feminist Majority Foundation and other pro-choice supporters carried signs and silently showed their support for the clinic throughout the demonstration.
Even as abortion rights advocates mark the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the Feminist Majority Foundation draws attention to the rising tide of anti-abortion violence in the US. In 2010, the Feminist Majority Foundation National Clinic Violence Survey report found that the number of clinics experience severe violence has increased to 23.5 percent compared to 20 percent in 2008 and 18.5 percent in 2005. Moreover, the types of violence shifted to more intensive harassment of selected doctors and clinic personnel and staff. For example, the incidence of stalking of personnel reported by clinics grew from 4 percent in 2008 to 6.2 percent in 2010.
Reflecting on these statistics, Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said, “It’s tragic on this 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade that we must work to protect doctors and health care workers from violence and harassment by anti-abortion extremists. Moreover, we are fighting not only to preserve access to a woman’s right to choose an abortion but also access to birth control. A prominent Republican leader, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) recently introduced legislation in the House that would deny family planning funding to any reproductive health facility that provides abortion services.”
Under the current Public Services Act, Title X money is allocated to grantees to fund family planning services and preventive health services and may not be used on abortion services.