It’s important to note that regressive laws aren’t the only threats to abortion clinics. A new Feminist Majority Foundation survey of 242 abortion-providing clinics in the United States found that a majority face threats and intimidation from anti-abortion extremists.
While reports of physical violence—like arson and invasions—are down slightly from previous years, an increasing number of clinics reported experiencing intimidation tactics like people distributing “Wanted” posters featuring staff, activists handing out pamphlets with doctors photos, and posting of doctors’ names and addresses online. In 2010, 27 percent of clinics faced this kind of harassment. In 2014, that number has climbed to 52 percent.
As for physical violence, the numbers still aren’t good. There were 11 incidences of violence at the nation’s abortion clinics over the past year, including blockades, arson, bombings, stalking, physical violence, bomb threats, and death threats. That means 19.7 percent of clinics suffered physical violence—less than in previous years but even one incident like this would be too many.
In their report on the survey, the Feminist Majority Foundation points out that the harassment and intimidation seen at dozens of clinics can escalate into physical attacks.
“The spike in serious threats and coordinated intimidation by extremists is of grave concern,” says duVergne Gaines, director of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project. “We know there is a connection between threats like wanted-style posters, residential targeting of physicians, and serious violence, because these types of threats preceded the murders of doctors in the ’90s and Dr. Tiller in 2009.”
Meanwhile, policy changes in states across the country place additional pressure on clinics that provide abortions. Due in part to cumbersome laws targeting abortion clinics in states everywhere from Texas to South Carolina to Colorado, 87 percent of Americans live in counties without an abortion provider. it looks like more than 40 years after abortion was made legal across the country, the need to protect abortion rights—and providers—is stronger than ever.
Related Reading: The Bizarre Tradition of Anti-Choice Christmas Caroling.
Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @sarahmirk. Image at the top of this post is made by Bitch Media.