New Feminist Majority Foundation Survey Finds Severe Anti-abortion Violence Still Plagues Almost One-Third of Clinics
The Feminist Majority Foundation was joined by National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America in releasing current statistics on clinic violence and calling for improved law enforcement response. At a press conference at the National Press Club on January 16, the Feminist Majority released its survey which found that that 29.5% of clinics faced severe anti-abortion violence in 1996. Severe types of violence included death threats, stalking, bombings and bomb threats, arsons and arson threats, blockades, invasions and chemical attacks. When gunfire, home picketing, and vandalism are combined with the other violence variables, the number of clinics and offices experiencing some form of violence, harassment or intimidation rises to 45.8%.
The data refute a spate of recent news articles that have claimed that clinic violence is over. Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal said, “Our systematic, social science survey contradicts recent impressionistic news accounts that say clinic violence is a thing of the past. Although the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act continues to be an effective tool in reducing clinic violence, our data and our day-in-day-out work with clinics tells us that the violence has by no means ended. Just two weeks ago a physician in New Orleans was brutally stabbed 15 times by an assailant who then traveled to a Baton Rouge clinic, where he was found lying in wait for a second physician. Fortunately, because of the vigilance of pro-choice advocates in New Orleans, this man, who is from Texas is now behind bars and is being charged with attempted murder.”
The survey also shows a correlation between incidence of violence and the response of law enforcement. Smeal said “The survey shows conclusively that better law enforcement has the capacity to decrease violence.” Buffer-zones were also found to be effective in decreasing violence.
Smeal noted that awareness of continued violence was important for pro-choice activists, clinics and the media, especially as the twenty-fourth anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaches and increased anti-abortion activity at clinics is expected.