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The War on Abortion Access

One in five clinics providing abortion services suffer severe violence committed by anti-choicers, including invasions, blockades, bombings, arsons, chemical attacks, stalking, gunfire, physical assaults and death threats.

This level of violence is down significantly from 1994, when 52% of all clinics were targets of severe violence. The decrease is largely due to pro-choice mobilization, along with the enforcement of the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, and two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in favor of access.

Anti-choicers continue to target a small subgroup of clinics in an effort to close them down. In 2000, 56% of clinics were free from any anti-choice violence, harassment, or intimidation, while 7% of clinics experienced three or more concurrent forms of violence, harassment, or intimidation, including vandalism, home picketing, break-ins, and anthrax hoaxes.

Free standing clinics were substantially more likely to be the target of violence or harassment than any other location. Hospitals providing abortion services were least affected.

In 2000, 15% of clinics experiencing a high level of violence lost staff members, compared with 2% of clinics not subjected to a high level of violence. Those clinics targeted with "Wanted" posters, internet harassment, or the distribution of pamphlets were more likely than others to have a staff member resign.

Seven states bore the brunt of the severe violence: California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

Bomb threats, stalking, death threats, and blockades were the most commonly reported types of severe violence in 2000.

Since 1999, bomb threats were almost cut in half — from 13% in 1999 to 7% in 2000.

Threatening speech such as "Wanted" posters and internet harassment, plus anti-choice leafleting were experienced by 35% of clinics. This intimidation was primarily directed at the same clinics that also were targeted with violence and harassment.

Almost one third of clinics reported at least one type of vandalism last year, including tampering with phone lines, graffiti, broken windows, placing nails in driveways or parking lots, and vandalizing the homes or personal property of staff.

Of the clinics that had contact with local law enforcement concerning clinic violence in 2000, 60% rated local law enforcement as "excellent." State law enforcement received 54% "excellence" ratings. The feds received 66% "excellence" ratings, a 6 percent increase from 1999. Clinics that rated their local law enforcement as "excellent" were less likely to experience anti-choice violence, harassment, and intimidation.

(info from the Feminist Majority Foundation's "2000 National Clinic Violence Survey Report" at http://feminist.org/research/cvsurveys/clinic_survey2000.pdf)

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