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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

October-12-01

Abortion Under Attack: Dispatches From the Front

In the U.S., George W. Bush's presidency has brought a fresh wind to anti-choicers' sails: they're stepping up their campaign to prevent access to abortion, using every tactic from Internet hijacking to murder. What's worse, their methods seems to be spreading around the world.

Death Down Under
Australia had its first-ever abortion-related murder in July when a man shot and killed a security guard at a clinic in Melbourne. The man, who has refused to give his name to officials, was arrested, and is awaiting trial. Margaret Tighe, chair of Right to Life Australia, came close to applauding the act and warned of more violence to come when she told the Associated Press, "Given the nature of what occurs in these places, it is a wonder there have not been any more of these incidents."
—Ann Marie Dobosz

Most Wanted
Now that James Charles Kopp, alleged murderer of abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, has been arrested in France (and at press time, was about to be extradited), a new violent anti-choice extremist is on the loose. Convicted felon Clayton Waagner escaped from DeWitt County Jail in Clinton, Ill., in February, and is now in hiding. He has pledged "to kill as many [abortion doctors] as I can." Waagner is reportedly compiling lists of clinic workers to target and is stockpiling weapons. He has also been posting messages to the Army of God Web site in an attempt to intimidate pro-choice advocates. At his trial for federal weapons charges last year, he testified that he had staked out more than 100 clinics in 19 states because God ordered him to hunt down and kill abortion providers. Waagner is on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted List, and abortion clinics are on alert. —A.M.D.

Double Jeopardy
In July, Congress voted once again to ban federal funding for abortions for prisoners, except in cases of rape or life endangerment. All others must pay for an abortion, which costs on average $400. Since prisoners make 12 to 40 cents an hour for their labor, a woman who starts saving at conception will be able to afford an abortion by about the 25th week—just in time for one of those late-term abortions Congress loves so much. —A.M.D.

Hijack This
On the good news front: this summer Planned Parenthood (PP) and the ProChoice Resource Center (PCRC) each won major victories against abortionis murder.org, which had been cyber-squatting their respective Web sites. Surfers who misspelled either groups' name or entered ".com" instead of ".org" were hijacked to the antiabortion site, where they were assaulted with photos of mutilated fetuses. PP and PCRC both met this latest in a series of anti-choice stealth attacks head on, with the former seeking arbitration and the latter filing suit in federal court. Bowed by the costs of litigation, Thomas Fitch, the site's originator, was forced to back down and surrender all the related domain names. Now it's safe for even bad spellers to check out planned parenthood.org and prochoice resource.org. —Lisa Amato

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