A Reign of Terror Against Abortion Providers

November 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


To the extent that officials and the media have been giving a context to the horrific attack by the gunman at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, the attack has been portrayed as related to the climate created by a video distributed by anti-abortion Christian fascists who claim the video shows Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue. This video was deceitfully doctored to misrepresent what Planned Parenthood officials said—as part of a massive societal attack on the right of women to choose whether or not to have a child. In the atmosphere whipped up by the distribution and promotion of this video by lunatic fringe anti-abortionists and the Republican Party, there have been stepped up direct violent attacks on Planned Parenthood. Since the summer of this year, five Planned Parenthood clinics have suffered such attacks.

But the larger context is that the horrific attack by the gunman at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic is a continuation of a whole decades-long reign of terror that has targeted abortion clinics and abortion providers since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. This offensive has included numerous assassinations, physical attacks on doctors and other clinic staff, arson and acid attacks that have severely damaged or forced the closure of clinics, and other violent assaults along with death threats. These terrorist attacks on abortion clinics and providers have been a part, and actually the cutting edge, of the whole offensive against abortion and all forms of birth control—along with and in synch with attacking and harassing patients, endless laws that have shut down clinic after clinic, and the society-wide stigmatization of abortion promoted from the highest levels of the power structure as part of a global war on women.

To give a sense of this: In the 1980s, the fascist Army of God came out with a “manual” showing how to harass, attack and even kill abortion providers and including instructions for making bombs. To be clear, this obscurantist, religious fundamentalist terrorist “army” was an American organization that identified its ideology as Christian and American values. This manual was distributed to anti-abortion activists throughout the country. One example of an action carried by these women-hating fanatics: In 1982, several Army of God members kidnapped Dr. Hector Zevallos, director of an abortion clinic in Granite City, Illinois, and his wife and held them for eight days, threatening to kill them unless Zevallos made an anti-abortion statement. In 1997 and 1998 there were a number of acid attacks on abortion providers, facilities, and clinic patients including at several clinics in Florida.

Before the attack at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, eight abortion providers—doctors, nurses, escorts, and other staff—had been murdered by anti-abortion fanatics. The most recent was the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 while he was participating in church services in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Tiller had actually been shot once before by another anti-abortionist fanatic—at his Wichita clinic in 1993—and had survived. In that same year, two other abortion doctors were killed: Dr. David Gunn was murdered outside a Pensacola, Florida, clinic by a Christian fundamentalist who invoked the Bible as justification, and Dr. Wayne Patterson was killed in Mobile, Alabama. In the face of this—and the continued harassment at his clinic and home, death threats, and political/legal attacks—Dr. Tiller continued courageously to give compassionate care to thousands of women in need of the services his clinic provided, until his murder. In a shameful statement of acquiescence to Dr. Tiller’s killer and the forces behind his murder, no significant representative of the Democratic Party or liberal pro-choice groups associated with the Democrats attended his funeral.

According to the National Abortion Federation, since Dr. Tiller’s murder in 2009, abortion clinics and reproductive health care facilities have reported nearly 7,000 attacks against them, including vandalism, death threats, and other forms of violence. In March 2013, for example, the All Families Healthcare, a clinic that provides abortions in Montana, was so severely vandalized that it was forced to close indefinitely.

These terrorist attacks have been carried out by those openly tied to or spurred on by Christian fascists, driven by their religious fundamentalist, anti-scientific belief that abortion is murder and that women who choose to terminate their pregnancies are committing a “sin” against god. But these deadly assaults have been given a green light by the patriarchal, anti-women rantings and moves against the right to abortion from forces high in the power structure, as well as the “legal but rare” position of the Democrats that has contributed to giving legitimacy to and emboldening of the Christian fascists and the demonization and stigmatization of abortion and abortion providers. And this continues today, when abortion clinics across the U.S. are under ever more vicious assaults from Christian fascists as well as from new laws and court rulings.



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