Despite increasing threats for over one year and the tragic shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, clinics nationwide stay opened over the weekend and performed vitally necessary health services for women. The Feminist Majority had released a survey about anti-abortion clinic violence in early 2015 that showed a dramatic increase (nearly doubling) in the percentage of clinics experiencing threats and intimidation from a high of 26.6% of clinics in 2010 to 51.9% of clinics in 2014.
This very high threat level appeared to only escalate after the July, 2015 release of highly edited videos fraudulently purporting that Planned Parenthood was “selling baby parts.” According to du Vergne Gaines, Director of the FMF’s National Clinic Access Project, “The Feminist Majority Foundation started to receive reports of an escalation in severe harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against abortion providers immediately following the launch of the smear campaign by the Center for Medical Progress this past Summer.”
“Contrary to some media reports, the attack on the Colorado Springs clinic cannot be passed off as the act of a so-called ‘lone wolf,’ or an ‘unstable’ man who was ‘off the grid.’ This clinic was targeted on Operation Rescue’s website “AbortionDocs.org” along with many other clinics and abortion providers,” noted Kathy Spillar, FMF Executive Director. Operation Rescue’s Leader, Troy Newman, is an officer of the Center for Medical Progress. Newman, for seven years, conducted a campaign against Dr. George Tiller who was murdered by Scott Roeder who, according to his trial testimony, had participated in Operation Rescue activities against Dr. Tiller.
“What little is known about the shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, raises alarm bells in his resemblance to other violent anti-abortion extremists. His anti-government views, survivalist life-style, and his history of violence, petty run-ins with the law enforcement, and use of illegal drugs – fit the profile of other extremists who have been convicted of murder and attempted murder of abortion providers,” said Spillar.
“This lethal attack must be viewed with a lens also focusing on the nationwide campaign of threats and violence against abortion providers, in which nearly 1 in 5 women’s health clinics have experienced severe violence in 2014,” commented Eleanor Smeal, FMF president. “We cannot wait for another deadly attack before we start asking questions about the larger campaign of terror and violence against abortion providers. Rather than jumping to the conclusion of a lone wolf we must determine if this wolf ran in a pack. Quite simply, wolves normally run in packs and the amount of threats hardly could be carried out by one lone wolf,” continued Smeal.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has led efforts nationwide for 28 years to keep women’s health clinics open in the face of violence and intimidation. FMF’s National Clinic Access Project monitors anti-abortion violence and works with local, state and federal law enforcement to prevent violence. FMF’s annual National Clinic Violence Survey is the most comprehensive measure of anti-abortion violence and trends.###