Abortion-clinic escorts and defenders serve as human shields protecting patients from angry, aggressive protestors. Now, with emboldened extremists and the COVID crisis, they face more danger than ever before.
By Garnet Henderson
Jun 2, 2021
Shelley, an abortion-clinic defender at Clinics for Abortion and Reproductive Excellence (CARE) in Bellevue, Nebraska, had a bad feeling on the morning of September 25, 2020. One of those gut bad feelings. It had been a volatile summer. Warmer months typically bring more anti-abortion-rights protesters to clinics, and the groups had been even larger than usual in 2020, likely due to high unemployment rates. By September, the crowds had begun to thin back down to the clinic’s 12 to 14 “regulars.” That morning, one of the regulars was camped out in his usual spot at the base of the clinic’s driveway.
According to a newly uncovered report, a 2019 rally outside a Texas Planned Parenthood showed the ways far-right groups continued to build relationships by demonizing abortion providers.
By Anna Merlan
In 2019, a small group of truly unpleasant people banded together to be loud, obnoxious, and wrong outside a Texas Planned Parenthood. While the tactic isn’t new, the faces were: the Proud Boys wore their signature black and gold polo shirts, while the InfoWars personalities they stood beside wore the channel’s T-shirts; both wore red MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats, waved Trump flags, and perspired under a merciless sun, yelling anti-abortion slogans at passing cars and anyone unfortunate enough to be in earshot. A guy wearing a shirt from the militia group Texas Nomads SAR (which stands for Security and Resistance) and a crooked helmet emblazoned with a Trump bumper sticker proudly offered his thoughts on Planned Parenthood for a far-right livestreamer: “It’s eugenics,” he said, squinting at traffic and half-heartedly waving a Trump flag. “It’s not for the purpose that was stated.” He segued into a selection of questionably related and exceedingly racist thoughts on the dangers of “illegal immigrants” raping women. And all the while, Texas law enforcement agencies were watching, and were taking note of the attendees’ capacity for violence.
In the last year, 23 Texas towns have declared themselves ‘sanctuary cities for the unborn’, making the procedure punishable, and in April, a Nebraska village became the 24th
Tue 27 Apr 2021
Over the last year of the pandemic, 23 tiny towns in Texas have approved local laws declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn”, passing ordinances to make the procedure punishable by a $2,000 fine.
In April, the tiny village of Hayes Center, Nebraska, became the 24th, and the first outside Texas.
Sunday April 25 2021
More than one in six doctors providing termination services say they have experienced a “verbal threat or attack” since abortion was introduced in Ireland in 2019. The finding is from a study of 156 hospital doctors and GPs by researchers in the National Maternity Hospital and the Coombe.
The researchers found that while Irish doctors suffered fewer verbal or physical attacks than their American counterparts, they were more likely to be alienated by family, friends or acquaintances due to their abortion work.
by: Daniel Griffin
Posted: Apr 20, 2021
COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A London, Ohio man has been charged by a federal grand jury with making online threats against people connected with a non-profit organization whose mission is to help people access safe abortions.
James David Hampton, 40, was charged with 10 counts stemming from an alleged incident that took place on Aug. 26, 2020, according to a statement from Vipal J. Patel, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Human Rights Watch
March 31, 2021
(Berlin) – Bomb and death threats targeting at least seven groups in Poland for supporting women’s rights and the right to abortion are disturbing reminders of escalating risks to women’s human rights defenders in the country, Human Rights Watch, CIVICUS, and International Planned Parenthood Federation-European Network (IPPF-EN) said today.
The authorities should urgently investigate, protect the women targeted and hold those responsible for the threats accountable. Polish officials should also counter abusive misinformation campaigns targeting activists.
By Jessica Winter
March 11, 2021
In 1988, a young Baptist minister in Buffalo named Daren Drzymala launched Project House Call, a series of protests in which he and fellow anti-abortion activists picketed the homes of local abortion providers. One of their first demonstrations occurred that September, on Yom Kippur, outside the home of a Jewish ob-gyn named Barnett Slepian. A few months later, on the third night of Hanukkah, they targeted Slepian again, and also another Jewish abortion provider, Shalom Press. The protesters prayed and sang Christmas carols outside their targets’ windows.
Local councils in Buffalo soon passed bans on the picketing of private residences. But the anti-abortion activists’ fixation on Press and Slepian did not end there.
In Louisville, Ky., an armed police officer joined an anti-abortion protest outside a clinic. When the thin blue line of the police becomes aligned against upholding the law, injustice prevails.
by CAROL MASON
Defying the law is not what police and governmental officials are supposed to do; they are supposed to uphold the law. But recent events illuminate concerted efforts to radicalize officers as anti-government agents. Those investigating such radicalization in relation to storming the Capitol might also look at what has been going on around abortion clinics. Anti-abortion militants have a well-developed rationale with which they encourage law enforcement to defy the law.
The same violent brew of paramilitary warriors, white supremacists, and Christian militants that we saw descending on the Capitol building merged to oppose abortion with lethal force decades ago.
by CAROL MASON, Ms. Magazine
Two weeks ago in Tennessee a gunman shot out the door of a Planned Parenthood. As more researchers of the January 6 Capitol siege forecast months if not years of increased domestic terrorism, it is likely that some of it will be aimed at reproductive health care workers. Abortion opponents not only were part of the destructive melee at the Capitol—they also have modeled radicalization techniques used in building insurrectionary fever by successfully deploying incendiary lies and conspiracy theories.
The pro-life presence in Washington on January 6 has been, with few exceptions, largely underreported.
For reproductive rights defenders, the mood and some of the faces in the crowd were familiar.
By ALISSA QUART
FEB 04, 2021
Some 30 years ago a man named John Brockhoeft planned two bombings at abortion clinics and women’s health centers in Ohio and Florida. Brockhoeft was sentenced to seven years in prison (he served five) for the firebombing of one clinic; he had already served 26 months for scheming unsuccessfully to bomb another. Brockhoeft called himself a “freedom fighter” and kept a prison newsletter detailing his missions. It was an era when headlines were filled with the number of abortion providers who were either targeted or assassinated.
Three decades after his last clinic bombing, the same Brockhoeft livestreamed his arrival at the Capitol on Jan. 6. He called the moment his fight “for our beloved President Donald J. Trump.”