Abortion clinic

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An abortion clinic is a medical facility that provides abortions. Such clinics may be public medical centers, private medical practices or nonprofit organizations such as Planned Parenthood.



United States[edit]

  • There were 1,793 abortion providers in the United States in 2008.[2]
  • 381 of the 1,787 providers in the U.S. in 2005 were clinics at which the majority of patient visits were for abortions.[3]
  • Every state (and the District of Columbia) had at least one provider in 2008.[2]
  • The states with the most providers were California (522) and New York (249) in 2008.[2]
  • The states with the fewest providers were North Dakota (one) and South Dakota (two) in 2008.[2]
  • 13% of all counties in the United States had a provider in 2008.[2]
  • 31% of metropolitan counties and 3% of non-metropolitan counties had a provider in 2005.[3]
Operation Save America members protest in front of an abortion clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, during their 2006 National Event in that city.

Anti-abortion protests[edit]

Abortion clinics have frequently been the site of protests by anti-abortion activists. Protesters often engage in what is known as "sidewalk counseling", in which they warn people entering the clinic about alleged risks of abortion, attempt to offer alternatives to abortion or show pictures of fetuses.[4] In 1985, 85% of abortion providers were experiencing either picketing, clinic blockades or invasion of the facility,[5] with 19% or providers receiving bomb threats and 16% were picketed at their homes .[6] In 2000 82% of facilities received protests with 61% receiving 20 or more pickets. [7]

The 2007 film Juno contains an example of such protest. The protagonist enters a clinic with the purpose of procuring an abortion, but sees a fellow student protesting outside the clinic who tells her that the fetus "has fingernails".[8] This causes Juno to change her mind about having an abortion, and she leaves the clinic, with her friend calling out to her, "God appreciates your miracle."[9]

Another tactic in which protestors film or photograph patients entering the clinic utilizes the societal stigma surrounding abortion and attempts to expose or shame women who are seeking the procedure.[10] Anti-abortion activists have also attempted to access abortion clinic medical records by breaking into dumpsters, proposing state legislation that would require clinics to provide information regarding their patients to the government and hacking online databases containing confidential patient information.[11]

In some countries, a buffer zone is enforced to prevent protesters from standing within a certain distance of the clinic entrance.[12] In the United States these buffer zones have been the subject of many lawsuits and legislative actions on both statewide and national levels. In 2014 the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts bill that had legalized a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in the state in 2007.[13]

Abortion Clinic Access[edit]

One way that anti-abortion activists have restricted access to abortion is through systematically forcing the closure of abortion clinics across the country. Between 2011 and 2016 162 abortion clinics in the United States closed or stopped offering abortions due largely to legislative regulations enacted by pro-life politicians.[14] These bills, referred to as TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) laws implement medically unnecessary restrictions for clinics that will be difficult or impossible for providers to meet, therefore forcing clinics to close under the guise of increasing the safety of the procedure.

Access to abortions is extremely limited, particularly in rural and conservative areas. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 31% of women in rural areas traveled over 100 miles in order to receive an abortion while another 43% traveled between 50–100 miles.[15] These numbers are only increasing as more clinics are forced to close. Between 2011 and 2016 the number of abortion clinics in Texas dropped from 40 to 19[16] as a result of the state's House Bill 2, a TRAP law designed to force clinics into closure, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in June, 2016.[17]

Anti-abortion violence[edit]

Abortion clinics have frequently been subject to anti-abortion violence. The New York Times cites over one hundred clinic bombings and incidents of arson, over three hundred invasions, and over four hundred incidents of vandalism between 1978 and 1993,[18] and the National Abortion Federation, an organization of abortion providers, cites over 300 attempted or completed instances of bombing or arson, thousands of invasions and vandalism incidents, as well as other attacks, between 1977 and 2009.[19] According to the NAF, the first instance of arson at an abortion clinic took place in March 1976 in Oregon, and the first bombing was in Ohio in February 1978.[20] Some notable incidents are:

  • In 1993, Dr. David Gunn, one of a number of doctors murdered by opponents of abortion rights, was shot and killed outside as he arrived at his clinic.
  • In 1993, Dr. George Tiller was shot in both arms by Shelley Shannon outside his clinic. Tiller would later be murdered in church by another opponent of abortion rights.
  • In 1994, Dr. John Britton, another doctor, and James Barrett, his escort, were shot and killed by Paul Jennings Hill as they arrived at a clinic. Barrett's wife June was also wounded.
  • In 1994, John Salvi shot and killed two abortion clinic receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, and wounded five other people.[21]
  • In 1998, a remote-controlled pipe bomb that Eric Robert Rudolph set outside a clinic killed security guard Robert Sanderson and maimed nurse Emily Lyons.
  • In 2001, Peter James Knight shot and killed a security guard, Steven Rogers, at the abortion clinic where Rogers worked.
  • In 2015, a shooting incident occurred at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado which resulted in three fatalities, including a police officer, and in multiple injuries to other clinic workers and patients.

In the United States, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed in 1994 in response to acts of violence at clinics, which prohibits the use of force or obstruction to interfere with a person's attempt to obtain or provide reproductive health services, and the intentional damage of a reproductive health care facility such as an abortion clinic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Eggertson L (March 2001). "Abortion services in Canada: a patchwork quilt with many holes". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 164 (6): 847–9. PMC 80888. PMID 11276554.
  2. ^ a b c d e Jones RK, Kooistra K (March 2011). "Abortion Incidence and Access to Services In the United States, 2008" (PDF). Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 43 (1): 41–50. doi:10.1363/4304111. PMID 21388504.
  3. ^ a b Jones RK, Zolna MR, Henshaw SK, Finer LB (March 2008). "Abortion in the United States: incidence and access to services, 2005" (PDF). Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 40 (1): 6–16. doi:10.1363/4000608. PMID 18318867.
  4. ^ Julie Bosman, "Anti-Abortion Activists Worry That a New City Law Will Make Their Task Harder", The New York Times, 5 June 2009
  5. ^ Alesha E. Doan (2007). Opposition and Intimidation:The abortion wars and strategies of political harassment. University of Michigan. p. 23.
  6. ^ Doan 2007, p. 106.
  7. ^ Doan 2007, p. 115.
  8. ^ Freeman, Hadley (20 January 2012). "Diablo Cody: devil's advocate". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  9. ^ Clarke, Cath (23 November 2007). "Just don't say the A-word". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  10. ^ Journal, Yochi J. Dreazen Staff Reporter of The Wall Street (2002-05-28). "Abortion Protesters Use Cameras, Raise New Legal Issues, Lawsuits". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  11. ^ Carmon, Irin. "Abortions made public". Salon. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  12. ^ Access to Abortion Services Act. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  13. ^ Liptak, Adam; Schwartz, John (2014-06-26). "Court Rejects Zone to Buffer Abortion Clinic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  14. ^ "Abortion Clinics Are Closing at a Record Pace". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  15. ^ "One-Third of U.S. Women Seeking Abortions Travel More Than 25 Miles to Access Services". Guttmacher Institute. 2013-07-26. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  16. ^ Tribune, The Texas (2016-06-28). "Texas Abortion Clinics That Have Closed Since 2013". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  17. ^ Tribune, The Texas (2016-06-28). "Texas Abortion Clinics That Have Closed Since 2013". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  18. ^ "The Death of Dr. Gunn". The New York Times. March 12, 1993.
  19. ^ National Abortion Federation (2009), "Incidence of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada"
  20. ^ National Abortion Federation. (2007). "Arsons and Bombings Archived September 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.."
  21. ^ Daly, Christopher B. (March 19, 1996). "Salvi Convicted of Murder in Shootings". Washington Post.

Further reading[edit]