Bruce Ivins, the biodefense researcher accused by the Department of Justice of being solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, may have been motivated by personal anti-abortion politics. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to former Senator Tom Daschle and Senator Patrick Leahy. It is now theorized that Ivins may have targeted these senators specifically because of their standing as Catholics who had voted in favor of abortion rights.
NPR reports of evidence indicating that Ivins and his wife, Diane, had connections to many anti-abortion groups. A 2002 e-mail indicated that Diane Ivins has served as president of the Frederick County Right to Life. A Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati newsletter that criticized Catholic senators who supported abortion rights was purportedly found in a search of the Ivins’ home. Investigators have also reportedly revealed that Ivins mailed letters involving anti-abortion or Right to Life activities under pseudonyms and from various cities.
Anthrax threats had been used against abortion clinics prior to the attacks Ivins is allegedly responsible for. However, after Daschle and Leahy were targeted on September 18 and October 9, 2001 a flood of anthrax hoaxes were mailed to abortion clinics. As of October 16, 2001, over 170 abortion providers in 14 states and the District of Columbia had received threatening letters claiming to contain anthrax. Clayton Waagner, a self-described domestic “terrorist”, was convicted of sending the hoax letters to abortion clinics in 2003.