Anti-abortion violence is violence committed against individuals and organizations that provide abortion. Incidents of violence have included destruction of property, in the form of vandalism; crimes against people, including kidnapping, stalking, assault, attempted murder, and murder; and crimes affecting both people and property, including arson and bombings.
Anti-abortion extremists are considered a current domestic terrorist threat by the United States Department of Justice. Most documented incidents have occurred in the United States, though they have also occurred in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. G. Davidson Smith of Canadian Security Intelligence Service defined anti-abortion violence as single-issue terrorism. A study of 1982–87 violence considered the incidents "limited political" or "sub-revolutionary" terrorism.
- 1 Background
- 2 By country
- 3 Specific incidents
- 4 Reactions
- 5 Media depictions of anti-abortion violence
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Anti-abortion violence is specifically directed towards people who or places which provide abortion. It is recognized as "single-issue terrorism". Incidents include vandalism, arson, and bombings of abortion clinics, such as those committed by Eric Rudolph (1996–98), and murders or attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff, as committed by James Kopp (1998), Paul Jennings Hill (1994), Scott Roeder (2009), Michael F. Griffin (1993), and Peter James Knight (2001).
Those who engage in or support such actions defend the use of force with claims of justifiable homicide or defense of others in the interest of protecting the life of the fetus. David C. Nice, of the University of Georgia, describes support for anti-abortion violence as a political weapon against women's rights, one that is associated with tolerance for violence toward women. Numerous organizations have also recognized anti-abortion extremism as a form of Christian terrorism.
At least eleven murders occurred in the United States since 1990, as well as 41 bombings and 173 arsons at clinics since 1977. At least one murder occurred in Australia, as well several attempted murders in Canada. There were 1,793 abortion providers in the United States in 2008, as well as 197 abortion providers in Canada in 2001. The National Abortion Federation reported between 1,356 and 13,415 incidents of picketing at United States providers each year from 1995 to 2014.
The Federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed in 1994 to protect reproductive health service facilities and their staff and patients from violent threats, assault, vandalism, and blockade. The law (18 U.S.C. sec. 248) also provides the same level of legal protection to all pregnancy-related medical clinics, including pro-life counseling centers; it also applies to use of threatening tactics directed towards churches and places of worship. State, provincial, and local governments have also passed similar laws designed to afford legal protection of access to abortion in the United States and Canada.
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- July 16, 2001: Steven Rogers, a security guard at a clinic in Melbourne, Australia was shot in the chest and killed by Peter James Knight. Knight brought ropes and gags into the clinic along with 16 litres of kerosene, intending to burn all 15 staff and 26 patients to death.[I 1][I 2] Knight was charged and was sentenced to life in prison on November 19, 2002.[I 3]
- January 6, 2009: A firebombing using Molotov cocktails was attempted at a medical clinic in Mosman Park, Western Australia. Faulty construction of the bombs limited damage to a single external burnt area, though if successful damage would have been severe. It is believed that the individuals who made the attack were responsible for graffiti "baby killers" on the site, indicating an anti-abortion reason for the attack. The site turned out to in fact not be an abortion clinic, though the attackers most likely were not aware of this.[I 4]
Violence has also occurred in Canada, where at least three doctors have been attacked to date. The physicians were part of a pattern of attacks, which targeted providers in Canada and upstate New York (including the fatal shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian of New York). All victims were shot, or shot at, in their homes with a rifle, at dusk or in the morning, in late October or early November over a multi-year period. There is speculation that the timing of the shootings is related to the Canadian observance of Remembrance Day.
A joint Canadian-F.B.I. task force investigating the shootings was formed in December 1997—three years after the first attack. A task force coordinator, Inspector David Bowen of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police, complained that the Canadian Government was not adequately financing the investigation. Inspector Bowen said the task force, largely financed by the communities where the shootings occurred, has "operated on a shoestring" with a budget of $100,000. He said he requested more funds in July that would raise its budget to $250,000. Federal officials rejected the request on October 15, a week before Dr. Slepian was killed. Inspector Bowen said that there hadn't been funding to follow up potential leads.[I 5]
In 2001, James Kopp, an American citizen and resident was charged with the murder of Dr. Slepian and the attempted murder of Dr. Short; some speculate that Kopp was responsible for the other shootings.[I 6][I 7]
- November 8, 1994: In 1994, a sniper fired two bullets into the home of Dr. Garson Romalis, 57, of Vancouver, British Columbia who was eating breakfast. One hit his thigh, destroyed some of his muscles, broke his femur and damaged his femoral artery. Dr. Romalis saved his own life by using his bathrobe belt as a tourniquet. Dr. Romalis had become more outspoken about abortion rights since he was shot, citing the harm done to women by illegal abortion and the thousands of cases of septic abortion that came to his hospital in residency.[I 5][I 8]
- November 10, 1995: Dr. Hugh Short, 62, of Ancaster, Ontario was shot. A sniper's bullet fired into his home shattered his elbow and ended his surgical career. Dr. Short was not a high-profile target: it was not widely known that he did abortions.[I 5]
- November 11, 1997: Dr. Jack Fainman, 66, of Winnipeg, Manitoba was shot. A gunman fired through the back window of Fainman's riverbank home in Winnipeg about 9 pm and struck him in the right shoulder, inches from his heart. The police would not comment on whether Dr. Fainman, who has declined interview requests since the attack, is still performing abortions.[I 5]
- July 11, 2000: Dr. Romalis was stabbed by an unidentified assailant in the lobby of his clinic.[I 9]
Bombing and property damage
- February 25, 1990: Two men broke into a clinic in Vancouver and destroyed $C30,000 worth of medical equipment with crowbars.[I 10]
- May 18, 1992: A Toronto clinic operated by Henry Morgentaler was firebombed, causing the entire front wall of the building to collapse.[I 11] The Morgentaler Clinic on Harbord Street in Toronto was firebombed during the night by two people (caught on security camera) using gasoline and a firework to set off the explosion.[I 12] The next day, clinic management announced that the firebombing failed to prevent any abortions, since all scheduled abortions were carried out in alternative locations. A portion of the Toronto Women's Bookstore, next door, was damaged. No one was hurt but the building had to be demolished. On the day after the firebombing, Morgentaler came to inspect the damage and a crowd of abortion-rights supporters appeared at the clinic with signs that read, "Just Say No to Bombs." As a result of the arson, the Ontario government decided to spend $420,000 on improved security for abortion clinics. At the time, all four free-standing clinics in Ontario were in Toronto. The government wanted to gather information about activities by anti-abortion sympathizers; at the time, law enforcement agencies in Canada did not collect statistics about harassment and violence against abortion providers, their clinics, or their clients.[I 12] 6 months after the attack, the Toronto Police Force still had not made any progress in uncovering the attackers, any leads on suspects lead to dead-ends.
- Circa 1999: In the late 1990s, Graeme White was found guilty and sent to prison for tunneling into an abortion clinic[I 13][I 14] with what the police described as "incendiary devices".[I 15][unreliable source?][I 16]
- 1976: An arson attack was carried out at the Auckland Medical Aid Centre, which was estimated to cause $100,000 in damages to the facility. The Auckland office of the Sisters Overseas Service organisation was targeted that same evening.
In the United States, violence directed towards abortion providers has killed at least eleven people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, a police officer, two people (unclear of their connection), and a clinic escort;[I 17][I 18] Seven murders occurred in the 1990s.[I 19]
- March 10, 1993: Dr. David Gunn of Pensacola, Florida was fatally shot during a protest. He had been the subject of wanted-style posters distributed by Operation Rescue in the summer of 1992. Michael F. Griffin was found guilty of Gunn's murder and was sentenced to life in prison.[I 20]
- July 29, 1994: Dr. John Britton and James Barrett, a clinic escort, were both shot to death outside another facility, the Ladies Center, in Pensacola. Rev. Paul Jennings Hill was charged with the killings. Hill received a death sentence and was executed on September 3, 2003. The clinic in Pensacola had been bombed before in 1984 and was also bombed subsequently in 2012.[I 21]
- December 30, 1994: Two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Massachusetts. John Salvi was arrested and confessed to the killings. He died in prison and guards found his body under his bed with a plastic garbage bag tied around his head. Salvi had also confessed to a non-lethal attack in Norfolk, Virginia days before the Brookline killings.[I 21]
- January 29, 1998: Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who worked as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, was killed when his workplace was bombed. Eric Rudolph admitted responsibility; he was also charged with three Atlanta bombings: the 1997 bombing of an abortion center, the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, and another of a lesbian nightclub. He was charged with the crimes and received two life sentences as a result.[I 22]
- October 23, 1998: Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot to death with a high-powered rifle at his home in Amherst, New York. His was the last in a series of similar shootings against providers in Canada and northern New York state which were all likely committed by James Kopp. Kopp was convicted of Slepian's murder after being apprehended in France in 2001.[I 23]
- May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder as Tiller served as an usher at a church in Wichita, Kansas.[I 24] This was not Tiller's first time being a victim to anti-abortion violence. Dr.Tiller was shot once before in 1993 by Shelley Shannon, who was sentenced 10 years in prison for the shooting.
- November 29, 2015: A shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left three dead and several injured, and a suspect Robert L. Dear was apprehended.[I 25][I 26][I 27] The suspect had previously acted against other clinics, and referred to himself as a "warrior for the babies" at his hearing.[I 28][I 29] Neighbors and former neighbors described the suspect as "reclusive",[I 26] and police from several states where the suspect resided described a history of run-ins dating from at least 1997.[I 27] As of December 2015, the trial of the suspect was open;[I 28] but, on May 11, 2016, the court declared the suspect incompetent to stand trial after a mental evaluation was completed.[I 30]
Attempted murder, assault, and kidnapping
According to statistics gathered by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an organization of abortion providers, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid stink bomb attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.[I 31] Between 1997 and 1990 77 death threats were made with 250 made between 1991 and 1999 . Attempted murders in the U.S. included:[I 17][I 6][I 7] IN 1985 45% of clinics reported bomb threats, decreasing to 15% in 2000. One fifth of clinics in 2000 experienced some form of extreme activity.
- August 1982: Three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Rosalee Jean, holding them for eight days.
- June 15, 1984: A month after he destroyed suction equipment at a Birmingham clinic, Father Edward Markley, a Benedictine priest who was the Birmingham diocesan "Coordinator for Pro-Life Activities".[I 32][I 33] (and perhaps an accomplice), entered the Women's Community Health Center in Huntsville, Alabama, assaulting at least three clinic workers. Kathryn Wood, one of the workers, received back injuries and a broken neck vertebrae while preventing Markley from splashing red paint on the clinic's equipment. Markley was convicted of first-degree criminal mischief, one count of third-degree assault, and one count of harassment in the Huntsville attack.
- August 19, 1993: Dr. George Tiller was shot outside of an abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas. Shelley Shannon was convicted of the crime and received an 11-year prison sentence (20 years were later added for arson and acid attacks on clinics).
- July 29, 1994: June Barrett was shot in the same attack which claimed the lives of James Barrett, her husband, and Dr. John Britton.
- December 30, 1994: Five individuals were wounded in the shootings which killed Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols.
- December 18, 1996: Dr. Calvin Jackson of New Orleans, Louisiana was stabbed 15 times, losing 4 pints of blood. Donald Cooper was charged with second degree attempted murder and was sentenced to 20 years. "Donald Cooper's Day of Violence", by Kara Lowentheil, Choice! Magazine, December 21, 2004.
- October 28, 1997: Dr. David Gandell of Rochester, New York sustained serious injuries after being targeted by a sniper firing through a window in his home.[I 34]
- January 29, 1998: Emily Lyons, a nurse, was severely injured, and lost an eye, in the bombing which also killed off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson.
Arson, bombing, and property crime
According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid ("stink bombs").[I 31] The New York Times also 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.[I 35] The first clinic arson occurred in Oregon in March 1976 and the first bombing occurred in February 1978 in Ohio.[I 36] Incidents have included:
- May 26, 1983: Joseph Grace set the Hillcrest clinic in Norfolk, Virginia ablaze. He was arrested while sleeping in his van a few blocks from the clinic when a patrol officer noticed the smell of kerosene.[I 37]
- May 12, 1984: Two men entered a Birmingham, Alabama clinic on Mother's Day weekend shortly after a lone woman opened the doors at 7:25 A.M. Forcing their way into the clinic, one of the men threatened the woman if she tried to prevent the attack while the other, wielding a sledgehammer, did between $7,500 and $8,500 of damage to suction equipment. The man who damaged the equipment was later identified as Father Edward Markley. Father Markley is a Benedictine priest who was the Birmingham diocesan "Coordinator for Pro-Life Activities". Markley was convicted of first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree burglary. His accomplice has never been identified. The following month (near Father's Day), Markley entered a women's health center in Huntsville, Alabama (see above).[I 33]
- December 25, 1984: An abortion clinic and two physicians' offices in Pensacola, Florida, were bombed in the early morning of Christmas Day by a quartet of young people (Matt Goldsby, Jimmy Simmons, Kathy Simmons, Kaye Wiggins) who later called the bombings "a gift to Jesus on his birthday."[I 38][I 39][I 40] The clinic, the Ladies Center, would later be the site of the murder of Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in 1994 and a firebombing in 2012.
- March 26, 1986: Six anti-abortion activists, including John Burt and Joan Andrews, were arrested after invading an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, causing property damage and injuring two women (a clinic manager and a member of the local NOW chapter). Burt was convicted of attempted burglary of an occupied building, assault, battery, and resisting arrest without violence, and was sentenced to 141 days already served in jail and four years of probation; his 18-Sarah Burt, year-old daughter, who also took part in the invasion, was sentenced to 15 days in jail (with credit for two days already served) and three years of probation. Andrews refused to pledge not to carry out such actions in the future and was convicted of burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest without violence. She was sentenced to five years in prison, which she spent largely in self-imposed isolation, refusing a mattress and all medical care.
- July 27, 1987: Eight members of the Bible Missionary Fellowship, a fundamentalist church in Santee, California, attempted to bomb the Alvarado Medical Center abortion clinic. Church member Cheryl Sullenger procured gunpowder, bomb materials, and a disguise for co-conspirator Eric Everett Svelmoe, who planted a gasoline bomb. It was placed at the premises but failed to detonate as the fuse was blown out by wind.
- July 3, 1989: A fire was started at the Feminist Health Center clinic in Concord, New Hampshire, on the day U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law banning funding of public facilities as related to abortion. The clinic was set afire again in 2000.[I 41]
- March 29, 1993: Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula, Montana; at around 1 a.m., an arsonist snuck onto the premises and firebombed the clinic. The perpetrator, a Washington man, was ultimately caught, convicted and imprisoned. The facility was a near-total loss, but all of the patients' records, though damaged, survived the fire in metal file cabinets.[I 42][I 43][I 44][I 41]
- January 1997: Eric Rudolph admitted, as part of a plea deal for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games to placing a pair of bombs that exploded at the Northside Family Planning Services clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs.[I 22]
- May 21, 1998: Three people were injured when acid was poured at the entrances of five abortion clinics in Miami, Florida.[I 45]
- October 1999: Martin Uphoff set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, causing US$100 worth of damage. He was later sentenced to 60 months in prison.[I 46]
- May 28, 2000: An arson at a clinic in Concord, New Hampshire, resulted in several thousand dollars' worth of damage. The case remains unsolved.[I 47][I 48][I 49] This was the second arson at the clinic.[I 41]
- September 30, 2000: John Earl, a Catholic priest, drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic after learning that the FDA had approved the drug RU-486. He pulled out an ax before being forced to the ground by the owner of the building, who fired two warning shots from a shotgun.[I 50]
- June 11, 2001: An unsolved bombing at a clinic in Tacoma, Washington, destroyed a wall, resulting in $6,000 in damages.[I 46][I 51]
- July 4, 2005: A clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida, was the target of an probable arson.
- December 12, 2005: Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana. The device missed the building and no damage was caused. In August 2006, Hughes was sentenced to six years in prison, and Dunahoe to one year. Hughes claimed the bomb was a "memorial lamp" for an abortion she had had there.[I 52]
- September 11, 2006: David McMenemy of Rochester Hills, Michigan, crashed his car into the Edgerton Women's Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. He then doused the lobby in gasoline and started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions; however, Edgerton is not an abortion clinic.[I 53] Time magazine listed the incident in a "Top 10 Inept Terrorist Plots" list.[I 54]
- April 25, 2007: A package left at a women's health clinic in Austin, Texas, contained an explosive device capable of inflicting serious injury or death. A bomb squad detonated the device after evacuating the building. Paul Ross Evans (who had a criminal record for armed robbery and theft) was found guilty of the crime.[I 55]
- May 9, 2007: An unidentified person deliberately set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia.[I 56]
- December 6, 2007: Chad Altman and Sergio Baca were arrested for the arson of Dr. Curtis Boyd's clinic in Albuquerque. Baca's girlfriend had scheduled an appointment for an abortion at the clinic.[I 57][I 58]
- January 22, 2009: Matthew L. Derosia, 32, who was reported to have had a history of mental illness,[I 59] rammed an SUV into the front entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Saint Paul, Minnesota,[I 60] causing between $2,500 and $5,000 in damage. Derosia, who told police that Jesus told him to "stop the murderers," was ruled competent to stand trial. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to one count of criminal damage to property.
- January 1, 2012: Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, firebombed the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida, with a Molotov cocktail; the fire gutted the building. Rogers told investigators that he was motivated to commit the crime by his opposition to abortion, and that what more directly prompted the act was seeing a patient enter the clinic during one of the frequent anti-abortion protests there. The clinic had previously been bombed at Christmas in 1984 and was the site of the murder of Dr. John Britton and James Barrett in 1994.[I 61]
- April 1, 2012: A bomb exploded on the windowsill of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, resulting in a fire that damaged one of the clinic's examination rooms. No injuries were reported.
- April 11, 2013: Benjamin David Curell, 27, caused extensive damage to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Indiana, vandalizing it with an axe.[I 62] Curell was convicted in state court of felony burglary, and pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. In the federal case, he was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.
- September 4, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire. No injuries were reported due to the time of day, but the FBI was involved because of a history of domestic terrorism against the clinic.[I 63] The crime was never solved. The clinic reopened six months later.
- October 22, 2015: A Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized by a juvenile intruder. Damaged in the attack were computers, furniture, plumbing fixtures, office equipment, medical equipment, phone lines, windows, and walls. The flooding that resulted from the vandalism also damaged an adjacent business.[I 64][I 65]
- February 24–25, 2016: Travis Reynolds, 21, vandalized a Baltimore-area women's health care clinic with anti-abortion graffiti. After being arrested, Reynolds "admitted to police that he defaced the clinic's doors, walls and windows because he thought that it would deter women from using the clinic." Reynolds pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in October 2016.
- March 7, 2016: Rachel Ann Jackson, 71, vandalized a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbus, Ohio, with the message "SATAN DEN OF BABY KILLERS..." She pleaded guilty to felony counts of breaking and entering and vandalism and a misdemeanor count of aggravated trespass. Jackson was sentenced to probation, with the judge citing her struggle with serious mental illness as a mitigating factor.
The first hoax letters claiming to contain anthrax were mailed to U.S. clinics in October 1998, a few days after the Slepian shooting; since then, there have been 655 such bioterror threats made against abortion providers. None of the "anthrax" in these cases was real.[I 6][I 66]
- November 2001: After the genuine 2001 anthrax attacks, Clayton Waagner mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics. On December 3, 2003, Waagner was convicted of 51 charges relating to the anthrax scare.
Army of God
The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security's joint Terrorism Knowledge Base, identify the Army of God as an underground terrorist organization active in the United States. It was formed in 1982, and is responsible for a substantial amount of anti-abortion violence. The group has committed property crimes, acts of kidnapping, attempted murder, and murder. While sharing a common ideology and tactics, members claim to rarely communicate; to avoid risk of information leaking to outside sources.
In August 1982, three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Rosalee Jean, holding them for eight days and released them unharmed. In 1993, Shelly Shannon, an Army of God member, admitted to the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller. Law enforcement officials found the Army of God Manual, a tactical guide to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings buried in Shelly Shannon's backyard. Paul Jennings Hill was found guilty of the murder of both Dr. John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett.
The Army of God published a "Defensive Action Statement" signed by more than two dozen supporters of Hill, saying that "whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child... if in fact Paul Hill did kill or wound abortionist John Britton and clinic assistants James Barrett and Mrs. Barrett, his actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life".[I 6] The AOG claimed responsibility for Eric Robert Rudolph's 1997 shrapnel bombing of abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham. The organization embraces its description as terrorist.
Physician "wanted" posters
In the late 1990s, an organization called American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) was accused of implicitly advocating violence by its publication on its "Nuremberg Files" website of wanted-style posters, which featured a photograph of a physician who performed abortions along with a monetary reward for any information that would lead to his "arrest, conviction, and revocation of license to practice medicine". The ACLA's website described these physicians as war criminals and accused them of committing "crimes against humanity". The web site also published names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information regarding abortion providers—highlighting the names of those who had been wounded and striking out those of who had been killed. Dr. George Tiller's name was included on this list along with many others. The site was accused of being a thinly-veiled hit list intended to incite violence; others claimed that it was protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In 2002, after a prolonged debate, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the "posters" constituted an illegal threat.
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The American Life League issued a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence" in 2006.[better source needed] Other anti-abortion groups to state their opposition to violence include the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and Pro-Lifers Against Clinic Violence. The anti-abortion organization National Coalition for Life and Peace has also issued a statement rejecting violence as a form of opposition to abortion.[better source needed]
Many anti-abortion organizations—including Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, American Life League, Students for Life of America, Pro-Life Action League and 40 Days For Life—issued statements condemning the 2009 murder of Kansas late-term abortion doctor George Tiller.
In a 2009 press release, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry issued a statement calling for peaceful protests to expose abortionists. According to Media Matters and the Colorado Independent, however, Terry has also lead apparently contradictory public prayers that an abortion provider would "[convert] to God" or that "calamity [would] strike him". Terry added that he hoped the "baby killer would be tried and executed for crimes against humanity". The doctor targeted by Terry's prayers said to the press, "He's clearly inciting someone, anyone, to kill me"; a spokesman responded that Terry only meant that "God would deal with [the doctor]".
The Rev. Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue, accused "those in the abortion-providing industry" of committing most of the violence in an attempt to discredit the antiabortion movement. He defended his organization's use of inflammatory rhetoric, saying: "This whole thing isn't about violence. It's all about silence – silencing the Christian message. That's what they want." He also stated, "Our inflammatory rhetoric is only revealing a far more inflammatory truth."
Abortion rights supporters' reactions
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Organizations that support abortion rights have responded to anti-abortion violence by lobbying to protect access to abortion clinics. The National Abortion Federation and the Feminist Majority Foundation collect statistics on incidents of anti-abortion violence.
Media depictions of anti-abortion violence
- The Fourth Procedure, a 1995 novel by Stanley Pottinger, is a medical thriller and murder mystery that depicts anti-abortion violence in its plot. Two men responsible for the bombing of an abortion clinic turn up dead with baby dolls surgically implanted inside of them.[media 1]
- Insomnia (1994), by Stephen King, has much of the plot focusing around violent anti-abortion campaigners and their opposition to a pro-choice speech due to be held in their town. The group murders several women they believe to be seeking abortions and attempts to assassinate the speaker. They are motivated by a conspiracy theory that the speaker is part of a secret society that was a continuation of Herod's Massacre of the Innocents.
- "Killing Babies" (1996), by T. C. Boyle, a highly controversial short story written in response to attacks on abortion providers. The story first appeared in The New Yorker and was included in The Best American Short Stories 1997.
- Gideon's Torch, a 1995 novel by Charles Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn, begins with the murder of a doctor who provides abortions and chronicles political fallout from the murder and a resulting government crackdown on right-to-lifers.[media 2]
- Palindromes, a 2004 film directed by Todd Solondz, depicts the murder of an abortion doctor in his home, similar to the Barnett Slepian case.
- In If These Walls Could Talk, a 1996 film directed by Nancy Savoca and Cher, the third time period involves the shooting of a doctor performing an abortion.
- "Dignity", a 2009 episode of the crime drama Law & Order, was inspired by the killing of George Tiller and focused on the killing of an abortion provider by an activist. Pro-choice activists criticized the episode for making use of mainstream anti-abortion arguments. The National Organization for Women (NOW) listed the episode in their Media Hall of Shame, saying it "was loaded with anti-abortion sentiment and propaganda" and that it "outrageously implied that physicians like Dr. Tiller may be culpable in their own murders because they themselves are baby killers".[media 3] Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists had condemned the killing of Tiller that inspired the episode, but praised the episode for being "outright pro-life", with Dave Andrusko of the National Right to Life Committee saying, "[I]t occurred to me as I listened in utter astonishment that each of these observations could have been presented in a way that was artificial, forced, or (as so often is the case with network portraits of pro-lifers) something that you would expect from an idiot. None of that was the case. These were real flesh-and-blood people, not caricatures."[media 4]
- "Hammered", a 2009 episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit showed the possible motive of a murder as anti-abortion violence. The Nuremberg Files site is mentioned in the episode when detectives tell the doctor's ex-husband about the murder. The abortion clinic they visit has bulletproof glass, because it had been the target of a sniper who shot and wounded a receptionist. When the detectives go to the clinic, they experience an egging of the clinic as they look into collecting several boxes of hate mail that the clinic received.
- "Thou Shalt Not Kill", the 2002 premiere episode of the BBC series Spooks is about a fictional anti-abortion terrorist leader visiting the UK to establish a series of terror cells.
- "Pro-Life", a 2007 episode of the Showtime Masters of Horror TV series, tells the tale of a Christian man whose daughter is raped by a demon. When she tries to have her unnatural child aborted, her Christian father starts hearing messages from a voice he thinks is "God". He and her brothers storm the abortion clinic and kill any in their way.
- "Bored of the Rings", a 2007 episode from The Sarah Silverman Program a radical anti-abortion group attempts to bomb an abortion clinic, but are stopped by Sarah.
- On Orange Is The New Black (2013 – present as of 2015[update]), the character Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett has been imprisoned for shooting an abortion clinic nurse, after the nurse made comments on the number of abortions she had. The character is portrayed as being a self-proclaimed evangelical Christian after the incident and is funded by pro-life groups.[media 5]
- The song "Get Your Gunn" from Marilyn Manson's 1994 album Portrait of an American Family is about the killing of David Gunn.[media 6]
- The song "Hello Birmingham" from the 1999 album To the Teeth by Ani DiFranco was written in response to the bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the murder of Dr. Slepian in Amherst, New York (near DiFranco's hometown of Buffalo).[media 7]
- The song "F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)" from Mudhoney's 1995 album My Brother the Cow tells a story about a Baptist minister rapist who refuses to pay for an abortion but will not support the child after it is born. It includes the repeated refrain, "Save the baby/Kill the doctor".
- The song "I Need a Grip" by Maggie Estep on her 1994 album No More Mr. Nice Girl is a response to anti-abortion violence.
- The song "The Army of God" by hardcore punk band Behind Enemy Lines on their 2003 album "The Global Cannibal" deals with the acts of terrorism and murder performed on abortion clinics and their staff.
- The 1987 song "I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good" by Contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter Steve Taylor, criticizing anyone who claims to be a pro-life activist who would blow up abortion clinics or kill doctors.
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- The terrorism ahead: confronting transnational violence in the twenty-first century, Paul J. Smith, p 94
- Religion and Politics in America: The Rise of Christian Evangelists, Muhammad Arif Zakaullah, p 109
- Terrorism: An Investigator's Handbook, William E. Dyson, p 43
- Encyclopedia of terrorism, Cindy C. Combs, Martin W. Slann, p 13
- Armed for Life: The Army of God and Anti-Abortion Terror in the United States, Jennifer Jefferis, p 40
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- Doan 2007, p. 113.
- Baird-Windle, Patricia & Bader, Eleanor J., (2001), Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, New York, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0-312-23925-1
- Turner, Winford (February 9, 1985). "Jurors convict Markley". TimesDaily (116–40). pp. 1, 3. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
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- Abortion Clinic Invaders are Sentenced, Gainesville Sun (September 23, 1986).
- Jonathon King, Joan Andrews: The Woman Who Would Be A Martyr, Sun-Sentinel (October 2, 1988).
- Frammolino, Ralph (May 6, 1988). "2 Get Prison for Trying to Bomb Abortion Clinic". Los Angeles Times.
- William E. Dyson, Terrorism: An Investigator's Handbook (3rd ed.: Routledge, 2008), p. 479.
- Abortion Clinic Fire Suspicious: It's Second Blaze In Year At A Women's Center, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (July 6, 2005).
- Pat Pheifer, Cottage Grove man pleads guilty to driving SUV into clinic, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (March 26, 2009).
- Susan Guyett, Indiana man charged in ax attack on abortion clinic, Reuters (April 11, 2013).
- Indiana Man Sentenced for Damaging Property and Equipment at Planned Parenthood (press release), United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (July 1, 2014).
- Joel Connelly, Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman reopens six months after arson attack, Seattle Post-Intelligencer (February 5, 2016).
- John Fritze, Man pleads guilty to vandalizing reproductive health clinic, Baltimore Sun (October 14, 2016).
- Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Damaging Property of a Reproductive Health Services Facility (press release), United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (October 14, 2014).
- 71-year-old admits to vandalism on Planned Parenthood building, WCMH (August 8, 2016).
- John Futty, Judge grants probation to 71-year-old woman who vandalized Planned Parenthood building, Columbus Dispatch (November 15, 2016).
- "Terrorist Organization Profile:Army of God". Terrorism Knowledge Base. 2004–2008. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- Warner, Bill (May 31, 2009). "Bill Warner Private Investigator Sarasota Fl to Panama City, Male & Female Detectives Dr. George Tiller Murdered by Army of God (AOG) Member, Shooting Suspect Scott P. Roeder Identified By Sheriff, AOG Alive And Well in Wichita Kansas. Bill Warner Private Investigator". Retrieved November 22, 2009.
- Jefferis, Jennifer (2011). Armed for Life: The Army of God and Anti-Abortion Terror in the United States. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
- "Army of God letters claim responsibility for clinic bombing". CNN. February 2, 1998.
- Jefferis, Jennifer (2011). Armed for Life: The Army of God and Anti-Abortion Terror in the United States. ABC-CLIO. p. 40.
- Eviatar, Daphne (June 3, 2009). "Little-Enforced Law Opens Window for Suits Against Extremist Groups". Washington Independent. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Volokh, Eugene (April 3, 2001). "Menacing Speech, Today and During the Civil Rights Movement". Retrieved November 23, 2009.
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- Roberts, Joel (May 16, 2002). "Anti-Abortion Activists Lose In Court". CBS News.
- "Pro-life proclamation against violence". American Life League. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
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- "Pro-life Leaders Respond to Tiller Shooting". Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- "The Shooting of George Tiller: Pro-lifers fear that the shooting death of the late-term abortionist may bring greater restrictions to their largely peaceful movement". National Catholic Register. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
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- Ernest Luning (May 31, 2009). "Attorney general directs U.S. marshals to protect abortion clinics, providers". The Colorado Independent. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
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List of incidents by country
- Paul Anderson (March 11, 2014). "Deluded pro-life crusader Peter James Knight kills guard, but wanted more dead after he brought his gun and hatred to an abortion clinic in Melbourne". Herald Sun.
- Jamie Berry (November 20, 2002). "'Remorseless' recluse gets life". The Age.
- "Australian abortion clinic guard killed". BBC News. July 16, 2001. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- "Arsonists attack mosman park clinic". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. July 16, 2001. Retrieved April 13, 2006..
- Rhode, David. Sniper attacks on doctors create climate of fear in Canada, New York Times, October 29, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
- Robinson, B.A., Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (November 9, 2004), "Violence & Harassment at U.S. Abortion Clinics". Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- National Abortion Federation (2006), "Clinic Violence: History of Violence". Retrieved April 13, 2006.
- Romalis, Garson. Garson Romalis: Why I am an abortion doctor
- "Canada abortion doctor stabbed". BBC News. July 13, 2000. Retrieved April 13, 2006..
- Diemer, Ulli. (May 1990). News Briefs. Connexions Digest. Retrieved February 11, 2007.
- Bagley, Gordon. (1992). Bombing of Toronto abortion clinic raises stakes in bitter debate. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 147(10), 1528–1533. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
- Bagley, Gordon. Bombing of Toronto abortion clinic raises stakes in bitter debate. Canadian Medical Association Journal, Volume 147, p. 1528. 1992
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- "Tributes to 'John the Baptist figure'". The Press. August 22, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
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- "Clinic violence and intimidation" (PDF). NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2010..
- Another abortion doctor, George Wayne Patterson, was shot and killed outside an adult movie theater in Mobile, Alabama on August 21, 1993, but authorities attribute his death to a botched robbery."Man Arrested in Killing of Mobile Abortion Doctor". The New York Times. September 5, 1993.; H. Kushner, Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Sage Publications, 2003, p.39
- Alesha E. Doan (2007). Opposition and Intimidation:The abortion wars and strategies of political harassment. University of Michigan. p. 23.
- Rimer, Sara. "The Clinic Gunman and the Victim". nytimes.com. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- "Man arrested, charged in Fla. abortion clinic fire". yahoo.com. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
- David Mattingly; Henry Schuster; Matt Smith (July 19, 2005). "Rudolph gets life for Birmingham clinic attack". CNN.
- David Staba (January 13, 2007). "Doctor's Killer Tries to Make Abortion the Issue". The New York Times.
- Joe Rodriguez; Tim Potter; Stan Finger (June 1, 2009). "Suspect in shooting death of abortion provider George Tiller may be charged today". The Wichita Eagle. Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
- Fauset, Richard (December 1, 2015). "For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Tribune Wire Report (November 29, 2015). "'No more baby parts': Reclusive suspect's words draw focus". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
- Tribune Wire Report (November 29, 2015). "What's known about suspect in Planned Parenthood shooting". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
- Conlon, Kevin; Botelho, Greg; Brown, Pamela (November 29, 2015). "Source: Suspect spoke of 'baby parts' after Planned Parenthood shooting". CNN. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Gurman, Sadie (December 9, 2015). "Planned Parenthood suspect: 'I am a warrior for the babies'". Yahoo News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
- Hughes, Trevor (May 11, 2016). "Planned Parenthood shooting suspect found incompetent to stand trial". USA Today. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
- National Abortion Federation (2009), "Incidence of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada". Retrieved February 9, 2010.
- "Priest convicted on assault charges". The Tuscaloosa News. July 11, 1984.
- Blanchard, Dallas (1993). Religious Violence and Abortion: The Gideon Project. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. pp. 191–193. ISBN 0-8130-1194-9.
- David S. Cohe & Krysten Connon (2015). Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism. Oxford University Press. p. 80.
- "The Death of Dr. Gunn". The New York Times. March 12, 1993.
- National Abortion Federation. (2007). "Arsons and Bombings Archived September 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.." Retrieved February 10, 2007.
- Blanchard, Dallas (1993). Religious Violence and Abortion. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. p. 190. ISBN 0-8130-1194-9.
- Triggle, Nick (June 1, 2009) "Anti-abortion and violence in the US" BBC News
- Churchville, Victoria (January 6, 1985) "Bomb Suspects Cite Religious Motive" The Washington Post p. A-16
- See also: Christmas abortion bombings at Pensacola wiki
- "Arson suspected in abortion clinic fire". Amarillo Globe-News. Associated Press. May 30, 2000.
- "- History". Blue Mountain Clinic. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- "A choice alternative". Missoula News. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- Blue Mountain Clinic Aftermath. YouTube. October 25, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- "3 injured in Fla. abortion clinic vandalism; FBI launches probe", The Baltimore Sun, May 22, 1998
- "History of Violence/Extreme Violence". National Abortion Federation.
- Daley, B.(2000, May 30). The Boston Globe. "Abortion Clinic Fire 'Suspicious': Women's Health Center Has Been Target Of Past Protests, Vandalism" Lexis Nexis Academic Universe. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- "National News Briefs; Fire at Abortion Clinic Is Investigated as Arson". The New York Times. May 30, 2000.
- "N.h. Abortion Clinic Fire May Have Been An Arson". Orlando Sentinel. May 30, 2000.
- "Axe-wielding priest attacks abortion clinic". CNN. September 30, 2000. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- "Blast Damages Clinic Used for Abortions". The New York Times. June 12, 2001. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- "Louisiana Clinic Bomber Pleads Guilty". Ms. July 13, 2006. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- "Man Crashes Into Davenport Health Clinic". Davenport, IA: KWQC-TV. September 13, 2006. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Fletcher, Dan. "Top 10 Inept Terrorist Plots" Time 2009-09-08. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Fall 2007 Anti-Abortion Violence Intelligence Report:". 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2009..
- "Planned Parenthood Arson". WKTR. May 12, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2007.
- "Suspects In Abortion Clinic Fire Plead Not Guilty". Albuquerque: KOAT-TV. December 27, 2007. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2009..
- "New Mexico: Did You Know?". NARAL Pro-Choice America. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Anthony Lonetree (January 23, 2009). "Man charged with driving into Planned Parenthood facility". Star Tribune. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
- "Man charged with driving into Planned Parenthood facility". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
- Nelson, Melissa (January 6, 2012). "Man arrested, charged in Fla. abortion clinic fire". Yahoo! Finance. Associated Press.
- Amanda Rakes, Police: Man caused 'extensive damage' inside Planned Parenthood using ax, WXIN (April 11, 2013).
- Rachel Alexander & Chad Sokol (September 4, 2015). "Planned Parenthood fire determined to be arson". Spokesman-Review.
- "Planned Parenthood office in Claremont heavily damaged by intruder". WMUR. October 21, 2015.
- "Planned Parenthood vandal with hatchet damages New Hampshire clinic". Associated Press. October 21, 2015.
- "Anthrax Attacks". National Abortion Federation (2007). Retrieved February 10, 2007.
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- Gideon's Torch. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
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- ""Law & Order's" Wholly Unexpected Treatment of Abortion is Must-Watch Television". archive.org. October 26, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
- Barrett-Ibarra, Sofia. "Why Is Pennsatucky In Jail? The 'Orange Is The New Black' Prisoner Has A History Of Violence". Bustle. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
- Manson, Marilyn (May 28, 1999), "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?", Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
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- "The Roots of Terror – A special report: Is Abortion Violence a Plot? Conspiracy Is Not Confirmed," by Timothy Egan in The New York Times
- MSNBC: Abortion Clinic Violence
- Feminist Majority Foundation: Clinic Violence (pro-choice)
- National Abortion Federation: Clinic Violence (pro-choice)
- American Right To Life's Abortion Vigilante Worksheet