Abortion-related violence

Abortion-related violence

Abortion-related violence, or "anti-abortion violence", is criminal violence committed against individuals and organizations that provide abortion. [Jelen, Ted G. (1998). [http://hirr.hartsem.edu/ency/abortion.htm Abortion] . In "Encyclopedia of Religion and Society". Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press.] Incidents of violence have ranged from the destruction of property, in the form of vandalism, arson, and bombings, to kidnapping, stalking, assault, attempted murder, and murder. A recent act was an arson at an abortion clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 6, 2007. [" [http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2007/dec/08/albuquerque-abortion-clinic-fire-was-arson-feds-sa/ Albuquerque abortion clinic fire was arson, feds say] ." (December 8, 2007). "The Albuquerque Tribune". Retrieved December 18, 2007.]

This type of violence has also been documented as occurring in Australia and Canada. G. Davidson Smith of Canadian Security Intelligence Service defined anti-abortion violence as "single issue terrorism".Smith, G. Davidson (Tim). Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (1998). [http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/en/publications/commentary/com74.asp Single Issue Terrorism] . "Commentary." Retrieved June 9, 2006.]

Definition and characteristics

Anti-abortion violence is aggression specifically visited upon people who or places which provide abortion. Such incidents range from the vandalism, arson, and bombings of abortion clinics, as committed by Eric Rudolph, to the murders or attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff, as committed by James Kopp and Peter James Knight.

A small fraction of those opposed to abortion have sometimes resorted to very public demonstrations of violence in an effort to achieve their objective of curbing the termination of pregnancy. Those who engage in or support such actions defend the use of force — as justifiable homicide or defense of others — in interest of protecting the life of the fetus.O'Keefe, Mark. (January 24, 1999). " [http://www.rickross.com/reference/a-abortion/a-abortion5.html Anarchy in the name of God] ." "The Oregonian." Retrieved June 9, 2006.]


Incidents in the United States


In the U.S., violence directed toward abortion providers has killed 7 people, including 3 doctors, 2 clinic employees, a security guard, and a clinic escort.NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. (2006). [http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/assets/files/Abortion-Access-to-Abortion-Violence.pdf Clinic violence and intimidation] . Retrieved April 13, 2006.]
*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 the year before. Michael F. Griffin was found guilty of Dr. Gunn's murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
*June 29, 1994: Dr. John Britton and James Barrett, a clinic escort, were both shot to death outside of another facility in Pensacola. Rev. Paul Jennings Hill was charged with the killings, received a death sentence, and was executed September 3, 2003.
*December 30, 1994: Two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, were killed in two clinic attacks in Brookline, Massachusetts. John Salvi, who prior to his arrest was distributing pamphlets from Human Life International, [Berlet, Chip. [http://www.publiceye.org/body_politic/mag/back/art/0605pg22.htm "Clinic Violence, The Religious Right, Scapegoating, Armed Militias, & the Freemason Conspiracy,"] "The Body Politic", Vol. 5, No. 2 February 1995.] was arrested and confessed to the killings. He committed suicide 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.
*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 Robert Rudolph, who was also responsible for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, was charged with the crime and received two life sentences as a result.
*October 23, 1998: Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot to death 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 Dr. Slepian's murder after finally being apprehended in France in 2001.

A fourth doctor, George Patterson, was shot and killed in Mobile, Alabama on August 21, 1993, but it is uncertain whether his death was the direct result of his profession or rather a robbery. Crow, Karen. (August 19, 2005). [http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles-press/politics-policy-issues/abortion-access/tiller-patterson-11504.htm A Violent Week in August] . "Choice! Magazine." Retrieved January 25, 2007.]

Attempted murder, assault, and threats

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, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.National Abortion Federation. (2005). [http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/violence_statistics.pdf Incidence of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada] . Retrieved April 13, 2006.] The attempted murders were:Robinson, B.A. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. (November 9, 2004). " [http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_viol.htm Violence & Harassment at U.S. Abortion Clinics] . Retrieved April 13, 2006.] National Abortion Federation. (2006). [http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/history_violence.html Clinic Violence: History of Violence] . Retrieved April 13, 2006.]
*August 19, 1993: Dr. George Tiller was shot outside of an abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas. Shelley Shannon was charged with the crime and received an 11-year prison sentence.
*June 29, 1994: June Barret 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 same-day 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 sentenced to 20 years.Loewentheil, Kara. (December 21, 2004). [http://www4.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/losangeles/files/portal/webzine/eyeonextremism/eoe-041221-cooper.xml Donald Cooper's Day of Violence] . "Choice! Magazine." Retrieved January 25, 2007.]
*October 28, 1997: A physician whose name has not been revealed was shot in his home in Rochester, New York.
*January 29, 1998: Emily Lyons, a nurse, was severely injured in the bombing which also killed Robert Sanderson.
*September 11, 2006 David McMenemy attempted a suicide bombing of a women's clinic in Davenport, Iowa after scouting targets throughout the Midwest. It was later revealed that the targeted clinic did not perform or make referrals for abortions.

Anthrax threats

The first letters claiming to contain anthrax were mailed to U.S. clinics in October 1998, a few days after the Slepian shooting, and since then, there have been a total of 655 such bioterror threats made against abortion providers. None of the "anthrax" in these cases was real. [National Abortion Federation. (2007). [http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/anthrax.html Anthrax Attacks] ." Retrieved February 10, 2007.]
*November 2001: After the genuine 2001 anthrax attacks, Clayton Waagner mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics. Waagner was convicted of 51 charges relating to the anthrax scare on December 3, 2003.

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"). The first clinic arson occurred in Oregon in March 1976 and the first bombing occurred in February 1978 in Ohio.National Abortion Federation. (2007). " [http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/arsons.asp Arsons and Bombings] ." Retrieved February 10, 2007.] More recent incidents have included:
*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.
*May 28, 2000: An arson at a clinic in Concord, New Hampshire on resulted in damage estimated at US$20,000.
*October 1, 2000: 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 shot at by a security guard.
*June 11, 2001: A bombing at a clinic in Tacoma, Washington on destroyed a wall, resulting in US$6000 in damages
*July 4, 2005: A clinic Palm Beach, Florida was the target of an 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.
*September 13, 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 then started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions, however Edgerton is not an abortion clinc. [cite web |url=http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=5395773 |title=Man Crashes Into Davenport Health Clinic |accessdate=2008-05-11 |date=2006-09-13 |publisher=KWQC |language=English]
*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." [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/4752415.htm Explosive found at Austin women's clinic] ." (April 26, 2007). "Houston Chronicle." Retrieved April 27, 2007.]
*May 9, 2007: An unidentified person deliberately set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia. [" [http://www.wtkr.com/Global/story.asp?S=6492086 Planned Parenthood Arson] ." (May 12, 2007). "WKTR.com." Retrieved May 14, 2007.]
*December 6, 2007: Two unidentified persons set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. [" [http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2007/dec/08/albuquerque-abortion-clinic-fire-was-arson-feds-sa/ Albuquerque abortion clinic fire was arson, feds say] ." (December 8, 2007). "The Albuquerque Tribune". Retrieved December 18, 2007.]

Incidents in Canada

Attempted murder

Violence has also occurred in Canada, where three doctors have been attacked to date. There is speculation that the timing of the shootings is related to the Canadian observance of Remembrance Day. The physicians were part of pattern of attacks, which targeted providers in Canada and upstate New York, including Dr. Barnett Slepian. All victims were shot in their homes with a rifle, at dusk, in late October or early November. James Kopp was charged with the murder of Dr. Slepian and the attempted murder of Dr. Short; he is suspected of having committed the other shootings as well.

*November 8, 1994: Dr. Garson Romalis of Vancouver, British Columbia was shot.
*November 10, 1995: Dr. Hugh Short of Ancaster, Ontario was shot.
*November 11, 1997: Dr. Jack Fainman of Winnipeg, Manitoba was shot.
*July 11, 2000: Dr. Romalis was stabbed by an unindentified assailant in the lobby of his clinic. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/831489.stm Canada abortion doctor stabbed] ." (July 13, 2000). "BBC News." Retrieved April 13, 2006.]

=Bombing and property da

*February 25, 1990: Two men broke into a clinic in Vancouver and destroyed $C30,000 worth of medical equipment with crowbars. [Diemer, Ulli. (May 1990). [http://www.connexions.org/CxDigest/Docs/CXDGT51BR.htm News Briefs] . "Connexions Digest. Retrieved February 11, 2007.]
*May 18, 1992: A Toronto, Ontario clinic operated by Henry Morgentaler was firebombed, causing the entire front wall of the building to collapse. [Bagley, Gordon. (1992). [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1336558&pageindex=1 Bombing of Toronto abortion clinic raises stakes in bitter debate] . "Canadian Medical Association Journal, 147(10)", 1528–1533. Retrieved February 10, 2007.]

Incident in Australia

*July 16, 2001: Steven Rogers, a security guard at a clinic in Melbourne, Australia was shot in the face and killed by Peter James Knight. Knight was charged and was sentenced to life in prison on November 19, 2002. " [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1440785.stm Australian abortion clinic guard killed] ." (July 16, 2001). "BBC News." Retrieved April 13, 2006.]

upport of anti-abortion violence

Some organisations in the United States which oppose abortion either explicitly or implicitly advocate violence against abortion providers in contrast with the majority of the pro-life movement. Two such organizations are The Army of God, an underground network of activists who believe that the use of violence is an appropriate tool for fighting against abortion, and the American Coalition of Life Activists, who published the Nuremberg Files.

The Nuremberg Files was a controversial anti-abortion web site which published the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information of abortion providersndash highlighting the names of those who had been wounded and striking out those of which had been killed. 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.Clarkson, Frederick. (May 31, 2001). [http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2001/05/31/nuremberg/ Journalists or terrorists?] . "Salon.com." Retrieved April 13, 2006. ] A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision finally shut the site down in 2002 after a prolonged debate.

In August 1982, three men identifying as the Army of God kidnapped for eight days Hector Zevallos (a doctor and clinic owner) and his wife, Josalee Jean.Baird-Windle, Patricia & Bader, Eleanor J. (2001). "Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism." New York: St. Martin's Press. .] In 1993, law enforcement officials found the "Army of God Manual", a tactical guide to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings. The Army of God justified the actions of Paul Jennings Hill on the grounds 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 accomplices James Barrett and Mrs. Barrett, his actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life".

Pro-life reactions to anti-abortion violence

Nearly all mainstream pro-life organizations reject violence as a form of opposition to abortion. Advocates of force tend to be small groups or lone individuals. Pro-life activism generally consists of activism such as picketing, vigils, and "sidewalk counseling" outside abortion clinics. Some governments have responded to such activities with laws that protect access to abortion, particularly the creation of "buffer zones" where protesters are not permitted to approach those entering or exiting facilities providing abortion.

In response to incidents of anti-abortion violence, many groups in the pro-life movement have sought to isolate themselves from violent factions in a number of ways. Many pro-life advocates have vocally condemned violent actions against abortion providers as running contrary to the values and goals of the right-to-life cause. [Wallace, James M. (October 11, 1998). " [http://www.godlessprolifers.org/library/wallace3.html Anti-abortion violence negates pro-life goals] ." "News & Record." Retrieved February 10, 2007.]

Following the 1998 bombing of a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Feminists for Life offered a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible.Toalston, Art. (January 30, 1998). " [http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?Id=1965 Fatal abortion clinic bombing condemned by pro-life leaders] ." "BP News." Retrieved February 6, 2007.] In 2001, Priests for Life, a group of pro-life Catholics in the United States, put in place a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of fugitives wanted in connection with violence against abortion providers.Eckstrom, Kevin. (2001). " [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/74/story_7489_1.html Priests for Life Offers $50,000 Reward for Clinic Shooters] ." "Beliefnet." Retrieved February 6, 2007.] The American Life League issued a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence" in 2006.American Life League. (n.d.). [http://www.all.org/article.php?id=10357 Pro-life proclamation against violence] . Retrieved April 13, 2006.] Other pro-life groups to take a stand against violence include Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and Pro-Lifers Against Clinic Violence. However, a few anti-abortion leaders have qualified their condemnation of anti-abortion violence by suggesting that the harm created by pro-life crime is small in comparison to the harm they associate with abortion providers.fact|date=October 2008 Scholarship contextualizes this support for violence as a political weapon against women's rights, one that is associated with tolerance for violence toward women. [cite journal |last=Nice |first=David C. |year=1988 |month=Feb. |title=Abortion Clinic Bombings as Political Violence |journal="American Journal of Political Science" |volume=32 |issue=1 |pages=178–195 |url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0092-5853%28198802%2932%3A1%3C178%3AACBAPV%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U |accessdate=2007-11-26 |quote= |doi=10.2307/2111316 ]

Pro-choice reactions to anti-abortion violence

Pro-choice organizations 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. The "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. [cite web | lastname = Eckenwiler | firstname = Mark |title=Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) FAQ |date=1995-04-18 |url=http://www.faqs.org/faqs/law/clinic-access/ |accessdate=2007-02-10] 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.

One form that this legislation can take is in the creation of a "buffer zone" around an abortion clinic or around the home of someone who works there; pro-life demonstration is limited to a specific distance from the building or prohibited altogether. In the U.S., three states — Colorado, Massachusetts, and Montana have passed "buffer zone" laws — and, in Canada, the province of British Columbia has enacted The "Access to Abortion Services Act".

Abortion-related violence in popular culture


:*"The Fourth Procedure", a 1995 novel by Stanley Pottinger, is a medical thriller and murder mystery that features abortion-related 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. [Braille Library. (September 1999). [http://www.braillelibrary.org/ForOurPatrons/Bibliographies/Narrated_by_David_Hartley_Margolin.pdf Narrated by David Hartley Margolin] . Retrieved February 10, 2007.]

:*"Insomnia" by Stephen King has much of the plot focusing around violent pro-life campaigners and their opposition towards a pro-choice speech due to be held in their town. The group murders several women they believe to be seeking abortion and attempts to assassinate the speaker. They are motivated by a conspiracy theory that the speaker is part of secret society that was a continuation of Herod's Massacre of the Innocents.


:* "Palindromes", a 2004 film by director Todd Solondz, features the murder of an abortion doctor in his home similar to the Barnett Slepian case.


*The song "Get Your Gunn" from Marilyn Manson's 1994 album "Portrait of an American Family" is about the killing of David Gunn. [Manson, Marilyn. (May 28, 1999). [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5923915/columbine_whose_fault_is_it Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?] . "Rolling Stone." Retrieved February 10, 2007.]
*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 (nearby to DiFranco's hometown of Buffalo). [Goldberg, Michelle. (November 17, 1999). [http://www.salon.com/ent/music/review/1999/11/17/difranco/index.html Sharps & Flats] . "Salon.com." Retrieved February 10, 2007.]

ee also


External links

* [http://www.msnbc.com/modules/clinics/default.asp MSNBC: Abortion Clinic Violence]
* [http://www.feminist.org/rrights/clinicsurvey.html Feminist Majority Foundation: Clinic Violence] (pro-choice)
* [http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/index.html National Abortion Federation: Clinic Violence] (pro-choice)
* [http://hli.org Human Life International (pro-life)]

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