Washington DC — Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and a leading national expert on anti-abortion terrorism, today released the organization’s seventh annual National Clinic Violence Survey Report, the most comprehensive study of anti-abortion violence in the United States. The 1999 survey shows that in the past twelve months, 20% of clinics experienced one or more forms of severe anti-abortion violence including blockades, invasions, bomb threats, bombings, arson threats, arsons, chemical attacks, death threats, or stalking. This percentage is only slightly down from 22% in 1998 and sharply down from its high mark of 52% in 1994.
“The fact that one-fifth of the women’s health clinics in this country are still battered day after day with violence is unconscionable. We must have zero tolerance for domestic terrorism,” said Smeal.
“Our survey reveals the enduring problem of anti-abortion violence at clinics, even though anti-abortion violence was not highly visible in 1999 because no fatalities occurred. The war of attrition against abortion clinics continues.” As in 1998, a small percentage of clinics (5%) is again besieged with multiple, and often simultaneous, types of violence as anti-abortion extremists continue to try to force clinics out of business.
For the first time since 1995, more clinics are experiencing violence. The gap between those clinics experiencing no violence and moderate violence has narrowed. There is a greater dispersion of harassment, intimidation and violence at clinics nationwide, with more clinics affected by at least one or two types of anti-abortion violence.
For the first time, the 1999 survey also revealed that abortion clinic providers are open targets in cyberspace, with 18% reporting harassment via the Internet or Web. Anthrax threats were also prevalent in 1999. Eleven percent (11%) of clinics nationwide received threatening anthrax letters in the past twelve months. In this month alone, over 30 clinics have received such threats.
“One of the most encouraging findings in this study is that clinics’ ‘excellent’ ratings of law enforcement have significantly increased at the local, state, and federal levels,” noted Smeal. All levels of law enforcement received higher “excellent” ratings this year, with local law enforcement yielding the largest net increase.
Editor’s Note: Copies of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 1999 National Clinic Violence Survey Report are available by calling the Feminist Majority Foundation at 703-522-2214 or visiting the Feminist Majority Foundation Online at www.feminist.org. The Feminist Majority Foundation operates the National Clinic Access Project, the oldest abortion clinic access and defense project in the nation.