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1998 NATIONAL CLINIC VIOLENCE SURVEY REPORT

Conducted by the Feminist Majority Foundation

Prepared by

Jennifer Jackman, Ph.D.
Christine Onyango, M.A.
Elizabeth Gavrilles, M.F.A.

Released January 21, 1999

KEY FINDINGS

Almost one-fourth of clinics faced severe anti-abortion violence in 1998. The percentage of clinics reporting one or more types of severe violence which included death threats, stalking, bomb threats, bombings, arson threats, arsons, and blockades, invasions, and chemical attacks dropped from 24.8% in 1997 to 22.2% in 1998.

The gap between the percentage of clinics experiencing high levels of violence and those without violence grew as anti-abortion attacks became even more concentrated on a smaller number of clinics in 1998. The percentage of clinics that experienced high violence decreased from 8.3% in 1997 to 4.3% in 1998. While fewer clinics experienced high violence, more faced moderate violence -- from 30.7% in 1997 to 32.2% in 1998 -- and no violence violence -- from 61.1% in 1997 to 63.5% in 1998. In 1998, 63.5% of clinics were free from violence, harassment or intimidation – twice as many as experienced violence.

Bomb threats and vandalism remained the most common types of violence reported by clinics although their levels were slightly lower in 1998 than in 1997. In 1998, 10.8% of clinics received bomb threats and 15.7% were vandalized. In 1997, 12.4% of clinics received bomb threats and 22.4% were vandalized.

The percentage of clinics reporting staff resignations as a result of anti-abortion violence declined. The 1998 survey found 4.9% of clinics lost staff as a result of anti-abortion violence, compared to 7.1% in 1997. Of the 17 clinics reporting violence-related staff resignations, 11.8% lost a physician, 52.9% lost nurses, 35.3% lost administrators, 11.8% lost counselors, and 5.9% had lab technicians resign.

One fourth of clinics (25.6%) were protected by buffer zones in 1998. Better enforcement of buffer zones correlated with reduced violence. Of clinics that reported no violence, 45.3% reported that their buffer zones were either strongly enforced or enforced, compared with 24.5% of clinics without violence which said their buffer zones were weakly enforced or not enforced at all. One in ten clinics (13.4%) in the survey were protected under a legal injunction other than a buffer zone.

Fewer clinics reported violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) to federal law enforcement officials during the first seven months of 1998 than ever before. Only 5.7% of clinics (20) in the 1998 survey brought FACE violations to the attention of federal officials. In 1997, 12.7% of clinics said that they had informed federal officials of FACE violations. Enforcement of FACE improved in 1998.

Clinics are less likely to turn to the courts for help than in previous years. The percentage of clinics seeking legal remedies from the courts for clinic violence such as retraining orders, temporary injunctions, and permanent injunctions continued to decline. During the first seven months of 1998, only 6.6% of clinics sought these remedies from the courts. Eight percent of clinics sought legal remedies in 1997, 10.9% in 1996, and 15.2% in 1995.

Local, state, and federal law enforcement response to clinic violence improved in 1998 which helped keep violence levels down. Clinics interacted most frequently with local law enforcement officials and rated the response of this level of law enforcement most highly. Levels of violence correlated with law enforcement response. Statistically significant relationships were found between local, state, and federal law enforcement response and various types of violence.

METHODOLOGY

The sixth annual National Clinic Violence Survey measured anti-abortion violence during the first seven months of 1998. This survey represents one of the most comprehensive studies of anti-abortion violence directed at clinics, patients and health care workers in the United States and its territories and includes abortion providers of various affiliations as well as independent clinics.

In September, 1998, surveys were mailed to 820 clinics in the United States. The universe of clinics was compiled by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project. Follow-up calls and faxes were made between mid-October and mid-December. Three hundred and fifty-one providers responded, yielding a response rate of 42.8%. Data were analyzed using SPSS-X (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) univariate and bi-variate techniques.

Clinics responding to the survey were assured that their individual responses would remain confidential. Clinics are identified in this report by name or state only if the incidents and consequences of the violence are a matter of public record or if the Feminist Majority Foundation was given permission to include the details of the incident in this report.

PROFILE OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS

The sample of 351 clinics in the survey includes clinics and doctors’ offices in 47 states and the District of Columbia. (See Appendix A for list of number of surveys completed per state). The percentage of clinic practice devoted to abortion ranges from less than 5% to over 75%. Types of facilities in the sample included non-profit (38.7%), for-profit (37.9%), and doctor’s offices (22.8%).

While three quarters (74.1%) of clinics were affiliated with national organizations such as the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Women’s Health Organization, and the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, 24.5% respondents were independent and had no national affiliation.

Almost two-thirds of facilities were free-standing (65.2%), with another 9.7% located in a medical high-rise, 8.0% in group facilities, 6.3% in high-rises, 4.3% in strip malls, and 1.7% at hospitals.

Our survey found that while 47.3% of respondents provide abortion as more than 75% of their practice, the vast majority (95.4%) of clinics and doctor’s offices provide a variety of women’s health care services. These services include birth control (93.4%); emergency contraception (80.6%); prenatal services (23.7%); cancer screening (70.4%); HIV testing (60.7%); STD testing and treatment (77.5%); vasectomy (18.6%); tubal sterilization (29.9%); services related to menopause (61%) ; infertility (19.7%) and services related to adoption (16.0%) and artificial insemination (4.6%).

In 1998, 25.9% of clinics said that they administered methotrexate, a method of early medical abortion. The majority of clinics in the survey (62.4%) expressed interest in providing mifepristone once it becomes available in the United States, with non-profit clinics the most enthusiastic at 77.9%.

RESULTS

The Feminist Majority Foundation’s sixth consecutive survey of anti-abortion violence comes at the end of a year of tragic violence directed at abortion clinics and health care personnel. The year began with the fatal bombing of the All Women, New Woman Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, which claimed the life of off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson, and severely injured nurse Emily Lyons. This violence culminated with the fatal shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian on October 23, 1998.

ONE FOURTH OF CLINICS EXPERIENCE SEVERE VIOLENCE

Despite these extreme acts of violence, the work of the pro-choice community and law enforcement to protect abortion providers from anti-abortion violence helped contain the level of violence overall. In 1998, as Chart 1 shows, almost one-fourth of clinics faced severe anti-abortion violence in 1998.

The percentage of clinics reporting one or more types of severe violence which included death threats, stalking, bomb threats, bombings, arson threats, arsons, and blockades, invasions, and chemical attacks dropped slightly from 24.8% in 1997 to 22.2% in 1998. In 1994, clinic violence levels reached an all-time high at 51.9%. Levels of violence dropped dramatically to 38.6% in 1995, as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act went into effect. In 1996, violence dropped again to 27.6%. 1997 saw another decrease of 2.8 points to 24.8%.

Although the survey results indicate that clinic violence plagues clinics nationwide, the twelve states that faced particularly sustained violence in 1998 were Alabama, California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The majority of these states were on the list of heavily targeted states last year. The new additions in 1998 were North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin, although most of these states have been identified in previous surveys as heavily targeted .

VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, AND INTIMIDATION BECAME MORE CONCENTRATED; ALMOST TWO-THIRDS OF CLINICS FREE FROM VIOLENCE

For the fifth consecutive year, our survey also measured additional types of violence, harassment and intimidation that plague abortion providers, including gunfire, home picketing, and vandalism. When these three variables were combined with the severe violence variables, the percentage of facilities reporting anti-abortion violence, harassment and intimidation during the first seven months of 1998 declined slightly from 38.9% in 1997 to 36.5% in 1998.

Based on the twelve types of anti-abortion extremist activity targeted at clinics and clinic personnel, we separated clinics into three levels of violence, harassment, and intimidation – clinics experiencing no violence, those experiencing moderate violence (1 or 2 types), and those facing high violence (three or more types).

The gap between the percentage of clinics experiencing high levels of violence and those without violence grew as anti-abortion attacks became even more concentrated on a smaller number of clinics in 1998. The percentage of clinics that experienced high violence decreased from 8.3% in 1997 to 4.3% in 1998. While fewer clinics experienced high violence, more faced moderate violence -- from 30.7% in 1997 to 32.2% in 1998 -- and no violence -- from 61.1% in 1997 to 63.5% in 1998.

In 1998, 63.5% of clinics were free from violence, harassment or intimidation – twice as many as experienced violence. Chart 2 shows the widening gap between the percentages of clinics that are free from violence and those that face multiple types of anti-abortion harassment, intimidation, and violence.

As in 1997, the clinics that faced the most intense violence were located in free-standing facilities. The 1998 survey found that 13 of the 15 clinics experiencing three or more types of violence were free-standing -- which is a higher percentage of free-standing clinics than are in the overall population of clinics in the survey.

BOMB THREATS AND VANDALISM REMAIN MOST COMMON FORMS OF ANTI-ABORTION VIOLENCE

Clinic reports of specific types of violence remained virtually unchanged during the first seven months of 1998, with bomb threats and vandalism the most frequently reported types of violence.

Very slight increases in the percentage of clinics reporting chemical attacks, death threats, stalking, and home picketing were detected in the 1998 survey. (See Chart 3.) While the increases in these types of violence are negligible, the absence of continued declines are even more noteworthy and indicate the largely unabated use of some of these extreme tactics by abortion opponents

 

In 1997, chemical attacks, which were described by only .3% of clinics, were almost eliminated as an anti-abortion tactic. But, in 1998, 1.4% of clinics in the survey reported chemical attacks. The survey data on chemical attacks, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. In 1998, clinics faced a spate of geographically concentrated chemical attacks. In June, 1998, 10 Florida abortion providers experienced chemical attacks. Anti-abortion activists drilled holes into clinic walls and filled the holes with butyric acid, a foul-smelling substance which irritates skin membranes and whose vomit-like stench can effectively close down a clinic. In July, 1998, nine clinics in Texas and Louisiana were attacked in a similar manner within a one-week period, causing 8 persons to be temporarily hospitalized.

 Death threats, after a three-year decline, also increased very slightly from 5% of clinics in 1997 to 5.7% in 1998. Similarly, stalking increased from 5% in 1997 to 5.1% in 1998, and home picketing increased from 8.3% to 8.5%. (See Chart 4.)

Other types of violence – blockades, invasions, bomb threats, arson threats, and vandalism – declined in 1998. Of the clinics surveyed, only 2% reported blockades, 2.3% invasions, and .9% arson threats. Gunfire has decreased since 1997 from 1.8% to 0.9%. Bomb threats dropped from 11.6% in 1997 to 10.8% in 1998. Vandalism declined from 22.4% to 15.7%. Of the 55 clinics that were vandalized, 38.2% experienced graffiti, 21.8% had nails put in their driveways or parking lots, 27.3% found paint on their buildings or property, 29.1% had their windows broken, and 18.2% had their phone lines tampered with.

While their levels declined in 1998 and the 6.7 point decline in vandalism was the largest reported decrease, bomb threats and vandalism were the most common types of violence reported by clinics.

Levels of bombings and arsons measured by the survey remained unchanged, both at .3%. Several tragic bombings in 1998 demonstrate the carnage and damage created by these anti-abortion attacks. In January 1998, a bomb at the New Woman, All Women Health Care Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, killed a security guard and severely injured a clinic nurse. The individual suspected in this attack was later in the year added to the FBI’s ten most wanted list after he was also connected to the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In April 1998, a California Planned Parenthood clinic was firebombed, followed by two firebombing of clinics in Fayetteville, NC in September. Attempted arsons were made on clinics in Fargo, North Dakota (April 1998) and San Antonio, TX (April, 1998), and two live bombs were discovered and disarmed outside the same Fayetteville North Carolina clinics that were firebombed a month earlier clinics in October 1998.

For the second year, the clinic violence survey also asked clinics about break-ins and robberies and distribution of threatening leaflets targeting particular physicians or clinic workers in the neighborhoods of these clinic employees. More clinics reported that their offices had been broken into or robbed in 1998 (5.1%) than in 1997 (3.5%). One in ten clinics (12.5%) reported the distribution of threatening leaflets in the neighborhoods of targeted clinic staff. Over half of clinics (56.7%) were experiencing picketing at their facilities at the time of data collection, which represents a slight decline from 1997 when 58.7% of clinics reported picketing.

This year’s survey also asked clinics if "wanted posters" targeting physicians or clinic administrators had been distributed. Of the clinics, 6.8% reported anti-abortion use of "wanted posters" to intimidate clinic personnel.

As another measure of changing levels of violence at clinics, abortion providers were asked to compare whether the occurrences of each type of violence had increased, decreased, or remained the same from 1997 to 1998. For the fourth consecutive year, most clinics perceived that violence of all types at their facilities had remained at the same level as in the previous year. With the exception of bomb threats and death threats, more clinics reported decreases than increases in every violence category. The greatest perceived net decreases were in arsons, blockades, and vandalism. There was no net decrease in death threats and only a very slight net increase in bomb threats.

Clinics that devoted over 75% of their practice to providing abortion services were especially hard hit by anti-abortion violence. Bomb threats, arson threats, and home picketing were more likely to take place at these clinics. For example, 57.9% of the clinics receiving bomb threats were facilities that devoted over 75% of their practice to abortion. All clinics that received arson threats fell into this category. Of those clinics which had staff picketed at their homes, 56.7% provided abortions as more than 75% of their services. Fifty percent of clinics that had break-ins devoted over three-quarters of their practice to abortion.

STAFF RESIGNATIONS DECREASE IN 1998

During the first seven months of 1998, the percentage of clinics reporting staff resignations as a result of anti-abortion violence declined unlike in 1997. (See Chart 5.) The 1998 survey found 4.8% of clinics lost staff as a result of anti-abortion violence, compared to 7.1% in 1997. Of the 17 clinics reporting violence-related staff resignations, 11.8% lost a physician , 52.9% lost nurses, 35.3% lost administrators, 11.8% lost counselors, and 5.9% had lab technicians resign. (The murder of Dr. Slepian in New York in late October resulted in additional staff resignations, but these resignations occurred outside of the survey reporting period.)

The survey again found – as it did in 1997 – that the loss of employees in the face of clinic violence corresponded with the quality of local law enforcement response. Clinics that rated law enforcement response as "poor" were more likely to face staff resignations due to anti-abortion violence. Conversely, clinics that reported "excellent" law enforcement were less likely to report staff resignations.

Of clinics reporting "poor" local law enforcement response to clinic violence, 15.8% had staff quit because of violence. Only 6.2% of clinics describing law enforcement as "excellent" and 4.7% of clinics describing "good" local law enforcement response lost staff.

ENFORCEMENT OF BUFFER ZONES AND INJUNCTIONS PROTECT CLINICS FROM VIOLENCE

One fourth (25.6%) of clinics in the 1998 survey were protected by buffer zones. Buffer zones are designated areas set by courts, legislatures, or city officials in which specified types of anti-abortion activities are prohibited in order to safeguard patients, clinics, and clinic workers.

Almost two-thirds of the clinics (62.2%) with buffer zones had a protected perimeter around the clinics. Of the 90 clinics with buffer zones, 12.2% had zones under 10 feet in distance, 26.7% between 10 and 24 feet, 21.1% between 25-49 feet, and 17.8% zones of 50 feet or over. One in four clinics with buffer zones (24.4%) were protected by buffer zones that specified the permissible level of sound outside of clinics. Five of the clinics (5.6%) with buffer zones had areas protected around clinic worker homes.

One in ten clinics (13.4%) in the survey were protected under a legal injunction other than a buffer zone.

While most clinics felt that their buffer zones and injunctions were enforced, a substantial proportion said that these protections were "weakly enforced" or "not at all enforced." Of the clinics that had buffer zones, 14.4% said that their buffer zone was "strongly enforced," 33.3% said it was "enforced," 16.7% said it was "weakly enforced," and 11.1% said it was "not enforced at all." Of the 47 clinics that had injunctions, 10.6% said their injunction was strongly enforced, 36.2% said it was "enforced," 21.3% said it was "weakly enforced," and 14.9% said it was "not enforced at all."

Better enforcement of buffer zones correlated with reduced violence. Of clinics that reported no violence, 45.3% reported that their buffer zone was either strongly enforced (5.7%) or enforced (39.6%), compared with 24.5% of clinics without violence which said their buffer zone was either weakly enforced (17%) or not enforced at all (7.5%). All of the clinics that reported high violence said that their buffer zone was either weakly enforced or not enforced at all.

FACE VIOLATION REPORTS DECLINE; ENFORCEMENT OF FACE IMPROVES

Fewer clinics reported violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) to federal law enforcement officials during the first seven months of 1998 than ever before. Only 5.7% of clinics (20) in the 1998 survey brought FACE violations to the attention of federal officials. In 1997, 12.7% of clinics said that they had informed federal officials of FACE violations.

At the same time that fewer clinics reported FACE violations, the handling of FACE reports by federal officials appears to have improved. Of the 20 clinics that reported FACE violations, 45% were provided with clear direction for initiating FACE complaints which represents an increase since 1997 when 41.9% were given clear directions. The percentage of clinics told to refer their FACE complaints to local authorities continued to drop -- from 50% in 1996, to 37.2% in 1997, and to 30% in 1998. More clinics said that an investigation had been opened as a result of their FACE violation report; 25% of clinics reporting FACE violations in 1998 told us that investigations had been opened, compared with 20.9% of clinics in 1997. And, the survey found a decrease in the percentage of clinics that said that federal officials told them that they would not prosecute reported FACE violations -- from 14% in 1997 to 10.5% in 1998. (See Chart 6.)

However, another index of FACE enforcement suggests that greater investigation and prosecution of FACE claims remain necessary. During the first seven months of 1998, only 15% of clinics reporting FACE violations said that federal officials had interviewed involved parties, compared with 41.9% in 1997.

The percentage of clinics with FACE violations that said federal officials had initiated civil FACE actions doubled from 4.7% in 1997 to 10% in 1998. A similar increase -- from 4.7% to 10% -- occurred in the proportion of clinics reporting that criminal FACE actions had been initiated.

Clinics believe that FACE has improved law enforcement response to anti-abortion violence. Of all clinics in the survey, 43.9% said they believed FACE had improved local law enforcement response, compared to only 14.8% that did not think the law had this effect. State law enforcement was improved according to 32.8% of clinics; only 15.4% of clinics disagreed. Federal law enforcement response to clinic violence was believed to have improved by 42.5% of clinics, with only 11.7% of clinics finding no difference.

FEWER CLINICS SEEK REMEDIES FROM COURTS, EVEN FEWER WIN REMEDIES

The percentage of clinics seeking legal remedies from the courts for clinic violence such as restraining orders, temporary injunctions, and permanent injunctions continued to decline. During the first seven months of 1998, only 6.6% of clinics sought these remedies from the courts. Eight percent of clinics sought legal remedies in 1997, 10.9% in 1996, and 15.2% in 1995. Of the 23 clinics that sought legal remedies, 7 sought restraining orders, 3 temporary injunctions, and 10 permanent injunctions.

Only one quarter of the clinics seeking legal remedies actually won. In 1998, only 26.1% of clinics that sought legal remedies won, which represents a significant decrease from 1997 when 44.4% of clinics were successful in obtaining legal remedies. In 1998, restraining orders were awarded to 40% of clinics that sought this remedy. Of the 10 clinics that sought permanent injunctions in 1998, 30% received this legal remedy. None of the 3 clinics seeking a temporary injunction were awarded one.

LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE IMPROVES AT STATE, LOCAL, AND FEDERAL LEVELS

Clinic ratings of local, state, and federal law enforcement response to clinic violence improved in 1998 after slight declines in 1997. Clinics interacted most frequently with local law enforcement officials and rated the response of this level of law enforcement most highly.

In 1998, clinics awarded more excellent ratings and fewer poor ratings to all levels of law enforcement for their responses to anti-abortion violence. In 1998, 37% of clinics rated local law enforcement response as "excellent" -- up 6.4 points from 1997. The percentage of clinics characterizing state law enforcement response as excellent increased from 8.3% in 1997 to 12% in 1998. Excellent ratings were given by 20.7% of clinics to federal law enforcement response in 1998, compared with 16.8% in 1997. All three levels of law enforcement also saw declines in the percentage of clinics awarding "poor" ratings. The percentage of clinics calling local law enforcement response poor decreased from 8.3% in 1997 to 5.4% in 1998. Poor ratings for federal law enforcement declined from 4.7% in 1997 to 1.4% in 1998 and for state law enforcement from 4.1% in 1997 to .9% in 1998. (See Chart 7.)

A second measure of law enforcement response further suggests that local, state, and federal law enforcement response to clinic violence has improved. While most clinics said that local, state, and federal law enforcement response had remained the same, more clinics in 1998 than in 1997 noted improvements in the responses of all levels of law enforcement. Of the clinics, 12.8% said that local law enforcement response had improved between 1997 and 1998, 5.7% reported that state law enforcement response had improved, and 8.3% said federal enforcement improved. The number of clinics that reported improvements more than offset those reporting declines for local and state officials. Only 3.1% said local law enforcement response had declined, .3% said state law enforcement had declined and .6% said federal law enforcement worsened. The same number of clinics that reported improved federal response also reported declines at this level of law enforcement.

For the first time, the clinic violence survey included several questions to explore the intensity of interactions with local, state, and federal law enforcement officials. Clinics were asked if they had contact with various levels of law enforcement and if law enforcement officials from each level had been designated as liaisons. Clinics also were asked to categorize the content of visits from law enforcement officials.

Clinics have the most contact with local law enforcement officials. Of the clinics, 73.5% had contact with local or county officials, 38.5% were in contact with federal officials, and 24.8% were in contact with state authorities. The majority (60.4%) of clinics also reported that local law enforcement had designated particular liaisons within the department; federal liaisons were designated for 49.3 % of clinics and state liaisons were appointed for 23.6%. Of the clinics, 62.7% reported that local law enforcement officials had visited their facilities. These visits included responses to clinic complaints of anti-abortion violence and discussions of security issues and other matters. These types of visits by state officials occurred at 15.6% of clinics and by federal authorities at 31.9% of clinics.

Arrest levels are another indication of law enforcement response to clinic violence. Fewer clinics reported arrests at clinic facilities in 1998 than in 1997. Of the clinics in the survey, 9.4% reported anti-abortion arrests for these crimes, compared with 11.5% in 1997. Of all clinics surveyed, 8.3% reported misdemeanor arrests only, .3% reported felony arrests only, and .9% reported both felony and misdemeanor arrests in 1998. The number of clinics reporting arrests for anti-abortion offenses away from clinic facilities also declined, with only 1.7% of clinics reporting arrests for these crimes in 1998.

Twelve clinics (3.4%) in the overall sample said that criminal charges were filed against anti-abortion violators in 1997, compared with 5.6% in 1997. In 1998, 15 clinics (4.3%) reported criminal prosecutions for anti-abortion violence, which remained at approximately the same level as in 1997.

LOWER LEVELS OF VIOLENCE ASSOCIATED WITH BETTER LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE

As in prior years, levels of violence correlated with law enforcement response. Excellent law enforcement response was more likely to be associated with no violence or lower levels of violence. Poor law enforcement response appeared to be related to higher levels of violence. These relationships were statistically significant at local, state, and federal levels.

Of clinics that reported that local law enforcement response to clinic violence was excellent, only 6.2% experienced high levels of violence. Of the clinics that said local law enforcement response was "poor," 15.8% experienced high levels of violence. Similarly, of those clinics which rated local law enforcement as excellent, 53.8% had no violence; only 26.3% of clinics who noted poor local law enforcement response were free from violence. Of clinics reporting "excellent" federal law enforcement response, only 5.6% experienced high violence; of clinics describing poor federal law enforcement response, 20% had high levels of violence. And, again, far more clinics with excellent federal law enforcement response reported no violence than those clinics that indicated poor federal response. The relationship between levels of violence and state law enforcement response was also significant.

Law enforcement response also correlated with clinic reports of some specific types of violence. Statistically significant relationships at the p< .05 level were found between local law enforcement response and bomb threats, vandalism, stalking, break-ins, and distribution of threatening leaflets in clinic worker neighborhoods. State law enforcement response correlated with invasions, bomb threats, arson threats, and chemical attacks. Clinic reports of bomb threats, death threats, and leafleting were statistically significant at the federal level.

CONCLUSIONS

The overall level of anti-abortion violence remained essentially unchanged in 1998. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 1998 National Clinic Violence Survey, almost one fourth of clinics were still plagued by severe violence. Of the clinics surveyed, 22.2% experienced one or more types of severe violence in 1998, compared with 24.8% in 1997. The survey also found only negligible changes in the levels of specific types of violence such as death threats, stalking, blockades, invasions, bomb threats, bombings, arsons, and arson threats.

The war of attrition against clinics continues. A small number of clinics continue to be besieged with multiple and often simultaneous types of violence as a part of the anti-abortion strategy to force one clinic after another out of business. The 1998 survey found that the percentage of clinics that experienced high violence grew even smaller in 1998 as the numbers of clinics facing moderate violence or no violence increased. As a result, the gap between the percentage of clinics experiencing high levels of violence and those without violence widened and anti-abortion attacks became even more concentrated on a smaller number of clinics in 1998.

The good news is that the number of clinics reporting no violence continues to grow. In 1998, 63.5% of clinics were free from violence, harassment or intimidation -- twice as many as experienced violence.

With the murder of Dr. Slepian, the fatal bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, and the series of firebombings and chemical attacks, it is surprising that the overall level of violence did not escalate in 1998. The 1998 survey reveals a major factor in the containment of anti-abortion violence -- improved law enforcement.

Our annual surveys have shown year after year that law enforcement response is absolutely critical to the reduction of violence. For several years, our survey has reported on the statistically significant correlation between law enforcement response and types of violence. Survey results in 1998 further documented this relationship. In addition, the 1998 survey found that clinics which had well-enforced buffer zones and injunctions experienced less violence. The decrease in the percentage of clinics that had staff resign as a result of clinic violence -- from 7.1% of clinics in 1997 to 4.9% of clinics in 1998 -- also in part most likely can be attributed to improved law enforcement response. Moreover, two measures of violence also show some small abatement of violence: the decline in reports of FACE violations and the reduction in the number of clinics experiencing three or more types of violence.

At the same time that the 1998 survey confirmed the association between violence and law enforcement response at local, state, and federal levels, it also showed improvements in law enforcement response along several indices. The survey found that clinics are in frequent contact with law enforcement, especially at the local level. Clinics gave law enforcement officials more excellent ratings and fewer poor ratings than in previous years. While most clinics noted that law enforcement response had remained the same, more clinics said response had improved than said it had declined.

Enforcement of FACE also improved, according to clinics. Federal officials were less likely to refer FACE violations back to local authorities, less likely to decide not to prosecute, more likely to give clinics clear directions to pursue claims, and more likely to open investigations than in prior years. The survey found that most clinics believe that FACE has improved law enforcement response at the local, state, and federal levels.

While law enforcement response to clinic violence clearly has improved, the survey contained less optimistic news about judicial response to anti-abortion violence. Fewer clinics are seeking legal remedies from the courts, which could in one part be due to lower levels of violence and in another part to more effective law enforcement. However, the fact that fewer clinics that seek legal remedies such as restraining orders, temporary injunctions, or permanent injunctions are being awarded these protections is a matter for serious concern. In 1997, 44.4% of clinics seeking legal remedies were successful; only 26.1% of clinics won their legal battles in 1998. In addition, the survey revealed that a significant proportion of clinic buffer zones (27.8%) and injunctions (36.2%) were not adequately enforced.

The fact that one-fourth of clinics continue to be endangered by serious anti-abortion violence is unacceptable. Improved law enforcement, increased security at clinics, and the work of the Feminist Majority Foundation and our colleagues to enhance the protection of clinics and clinic personnel have helped bring levels of anti-abortion violence to a standstill. However, the pro-choice community, law enforcement, and clinics must in the coming year intensify efforts to diminish even further the enduring violence faced by clinics.

APPENDIX 1

State Number in Survey

Alabama 7
Alaska 2
Arizona 9
Arkansas 3
California 48
Colorado 12
Connecticut 8
Delaware 2
District of Columbia 4
Florida 32
Georgia 6
Idaho 1
Illinois 6
Indiana 4
Iowa 5
Kansas 3
Kentucky 2
Maine 3
Maryland 8
Massachusetts 5
Michigan 9
Minnesota 3
Mississippi 2
Missouri 5
Montana 3
Nebraska 2
Nevada 2
New Hampshire 3
New Jersey 6
New Mexico 3
New York 23
North Carolina 12
North Dakota 2
Ohio 14
Oklahoma 2
Oregon 9
Pennsylvania 12
Rhode Island 3
South Carolina 3
South Dakota 1
Tennessee 5
Texas 18
Utah 2
Vermont 4
Virginia 13
Washington 13
West Virginia 2
Wisconsin 5
Total 351

APPENDIX 2

State-By-State Analysis Of Twelve States With Highest Levels of Anti-Abortion Violence During the First Seven Months of 1998 ALABAMA

The New Woman, All Women Health Care Clinic of Birmingham was the site of a fatal bombing in January. Robert Sanderson, a Birmingham police officer working as a security guard at the clinic, was killed when a bomb packed with nails exploded beside the walkway to the clinic. Emily Lyons, a clinic nurse, was severely injured. Of the other six Alabama clinics responding to the survey one reported vandalism, one suffered a break-in, and one reported staff receiving death threats. One clinic reported that a staff member quit as a result of clinic harassment.

CALIFORNIA

One clinic reported that members of its staff or their families were stalked, and two clinics reported that staff members received death threats. Six clinics received bomb threats, one clinic was blockaded and one was invaded. Five clinics were vandalized and three were broken into and/or robbed. One clinic reported threatening leafleting at workers' homes and one reported picketing at workers' homes.

FLORIDA

Four of the thirty-two responding Florida clinics suffered chemical attacks. Butyric acid, a noxious chemical that irritates the eyes and skin and causes respiratory damage if inhaled, was introduced to the clinic buildings. This type of chemical attack causes thousands of dollars worth of damage, as contaminated carpet, curtains and fixtures must be ripped out and replaced. Additionally, five clinics received bomb threats, while three were blockaded and two invaded. Home picketing was reported by one clinic, and distributing threatening leaflets at workers' homes by two. One clinic was broken into and/or robbed, while eight were vandalized. One clinic reported that harassment of the clinic led to staff quitting.

NEW YORK

Dr. Barnett Slepian, who provided abortions at a Buffalo clinic, was murdered in his home by a sniper in October 1998. The physician who replaced Dr. Slepian received a death threat. Of the twenty-one participating New York clinics one received a bomb threat, one reported that staff or members of their families were stalked, and two reported that staff received death threats. Four clinics were vandalized and one was broken into and/or robbed. Three reported that threatening leaflets were distributed at workers' homes, and two reported that workers' homes were picketed. Two clinics lost staff members who quit because of clinic harassment.

NORTH CAROLINA

Two clinics were firebombed in Fayetteville, NC in September. One month later live bombs were discovered and disarmed outside the same two clinics. Two of the twelve North Carolina clinics in the survey received bomb threats. Staff members at one of the clinics received death threats, and one clinic was vandalized. Western North Carolina is the site of the massive manhunt for Eric Robert Rudolph, the suspect charged with the Birmingham, Alabama clinic bombing. Rudolph has also been charged with the fatal bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, the bombing of a clinic and of a lesbian nightclub in 1997, all in Atlanta.

OHIO

Two of the fourteen Ohio clinics in the survey received bomb threats, and one was invaded. One reported that staff received death threats, and one that staff or their family were stalked. Three were vandalized. Two reported home picketing and three that threatening leaflets were distributed at workers' homes. Two clinics reported that staff quit because of clinic harassment.

OREGON

Three of the nine Oregon clinics in the survey received bomb threats, one was invaded and one reported gunfire. Staff members at two clinics received death threats. Two clinics were vandalized and two were broken into and/or robbed. One reported distribution of threatening leaflets and one reported picketing at workers' homes.

PENNSYLVANIA

Four of the twelve participating Pennsylvania clinics reported that staff or members of their families were stalked. Six reported home picketing and four that leaflets were distributed at workers' homes. One clinic was vandalized.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Of the three South Carolina clinics in the survey, one received a bomb threat, one was blockaded, one reported that staff received death threats and one that staff or their families were stalked. One reported leafleting at workers' homes and one was vandalized. One clinic reported that staff quit as a result of clinic harassment.

TEXAS

Two of the eighteen participating Texas clinics received bomb threats, one received an arson threat, and one was invaded. Four reported that staff or members of their families were stalked and one reported that staff received death threats. Six of the clinics were vandalized, and one was broken into and/or robbed. Seven reported distribution of threatening leaflets and two noted picketing at workers' homes. Two clinics lost staff who quit due to harassment of the clinic.

WASHINGTON

One of the twelve Washington clinics in the survey suffered a chemical attack. Five reported that staff received death threats, and two clinics received bomb threats. One reported that staff or their family were stalked. Seven reported that threatening leaflets were distributed and two reported picketing at workers' homes.

WISCONSIN

Five Wisconsin clinics participated in the survey, with one reporting that staff or members of their families were stalked. One clinic was invaded and two were vandalized. Three reported that workers' homes were picketed, and one that staff quit because of clinic harassment.

Past Surveys:

  • 1997 Clinic Violence Survey Report
  • 1996 Clinic Violence Survey Report
  • 1995 Clinic Violence Survey Report
  • 1994 Clinic Violence Survey Report
  • 1993 Clinic Violence Survey Report