For the past few years, the weeks surrounding Canada’s Remembrance Day have been filled with threats against abortion providers in Canada and the United States.
Since 1994, five sniper attacks on abortion providers have taken place near the date of November 11, which is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. Anti-abortion activists in Canada have deemed the day a time to “remember the unborn children,” while extremists have used the holiday as an excuse to terrorize physicians and other clinic workers.
On Monday, abortion clinics in the Vancouver area were alerted to an anti-abortion threat that had been sent to an area newspaper. The Hamilton Spectator received a package containing four pages of messages and a cryptic threat. The newspaper believes that the handwriting on the envelope and on the package contents closely matches the handwriting on parcels delivered earlier by anti-abortion activist James Kopp.
The FBI has named Kopp a material witness to the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, killed by a sniper in his Amherst home on October 23. Kopp has not turned himself in to the police for questioning and is currently at-large. Clinic workers have tightened security at their places of employment and their homes due to the recent threats. Despite the continual, terrifying threats, the majority of doctors are not backing down.
“There’s a great deal of sadness,” said Susan Fox, Director of an Edmonton, Alberta clinic that performs abortions. “But there’s also a feeling of determination that we won’t be deterred or scared by these actions.”
Marilyn Wilson, Executive Director of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, worries that while practicing doctors have endured the violence, the interest and willingness of young doctors to provide women’s reproductive services is being affected by ongoing anti-abortion violence.
“There are almost no doctors who have stopped performing these procedures, even under the current reign of terror,” Wilson said. “But young doctors with families wouldn’t necessarily want to do this.”