The Fort Wayne, Indiana Planned Parenthood clinic is closing because of harassment from anti-reproductive rights activists.
Even though the clinic does not provide abortion care, protesters regularly targeted the clinic with protests and harassed local businesses in the area in an attempt to create animosity with the clinic. Planned Parenthood withstood the attacks of local anti-abortion groups, which plastered posters around the neighborhood and distributed mailers with nurses and doctors photos and home addresses on them. After years of targeted harassment and intimidation, it became difficult for the health center to hire staff and recruit providers.
Planned Parenthood withstood the attacks until various violent threats were mailed to the clinic by the Allen County Right to Life group. Following the closure, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky CEO Christie Gillespie stated that they will “be back, stronger than ever before. Because our supporters know that we provide life-saving, high-quality health care to the thousands of Hoosiers in the Fort Wayne community. No matter what.”
The closest alternative Planned Parenthood locations to Fort Wayne are over 70 miles away, a two hour drive for women who need its services.
The Fort Wayne clinic’s closing follows a long period of harassment and violence towards reproductive health clinics. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF) 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey, the overwhelming majority of clinics (91.1 percent) experienced some type of anti-abortion activity—such as protesting—in the first half of 2016, with 63.2 percent of providers experiencing activity at least once a week, and a quarter of clinics experiencing it every day.
The 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey also found that the number of clinics experiencing the most severe threats and violence has skyrocketed since 2014, from 19.7 percent to 34.2 percent. Severe violence and threats include death threats, stalking, and blocking access to clinics. Half of clinics in the United States (49.5) experienced at least one incident of severe violence and/or severe harassment, such as break-ins or vandalism.
The protestors at clinics like the one in Fort Wayne utilize extreme tactics that intimidate patients, staff and doctors in front of the clinics. These may appear to be ordinary protesters, but many are trained operatives engaged in a systematic campaign to shut down access to women’s healthcare.
This past fall, a federal judge struck down provisions of an Indiana law that banned abortions in cases of severe genetic abnormalities. The same law required all fetuses to be cremated or buried. The judge stated that the provisions infringed on patient’s due process rights and that ere is no legal basis to have such strict restrictions on disposal of a fetus.
Rewire 07/09/18, Feminist Majority, Chicago Tribune 07/09/18, News Sentinel 07/09/18