Women's Clinics 1996: A Year of Living Dangerously

Revolutionary Worker #892, February 2, 1997

Doctors, nurses, clinic owners, workers and escorts--these people are on the frontlines in the battle to defend abortion rights. Every day, they face vicious threats and harassment. Forced to wear bullet-proof vests. Subjected to death threats. Vilified and isolated by a reactionary climate. They must summon courage just to go to work each day. But they know that without the right to choose, many women's lives are ruined. They know enforced motherhood is a recipe for crushed dreams.

Women's clinics around the country have been put in a state of siege. This is an intolerable situation. All those who support a woman's right to choose need to step up the struggle to defend women's health clinics by any means necessary. For without clinics, there is no choice.

How urgent is the situation?


  • Two clinic workers shot at a Springfield, Missouri clinic. One worker paralyzed from the waist down, the other wounded in the stomach.
  • 1993:

  • Dr. David Gunn, killed outside a clinic in Pensacola, Florida
  • Dr. George Tiller, shot outside his clinic in Wichita, Kansas
  • Dr. Wayne Patterson, killed in Mobile, Alabama.
  • 1994:

  • Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort James Barrett, killed in Pensacola, FL.
  • June Barrett, James Barrett's wife, survives gunshot wounds
  • Dr. Garson Romalis, shot in his home in Vancouver, Canada
  • Shannon Lowney, killed at Planned Parenthood in Brookline, MA
  • Leanne Nichols, killed at Pre Term in Brookline, MA
  • 1995:

  • Dr. Hugh Short, shot while inside his home in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
  • 1996:

  • In New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Calvin Jackson stabbed 15 times, so severely he lost four pints of blood.
  • 1977-1996:

  • 6 Murders
  • 12 Attempted murders
  • 41 Bombings
  • 108 Arsons
  • 69 Attempted bombing/arsons
  • 351 Invasions
  • 616 Vandalism
  • 97 Assault & Battery
  • 268 Death Threats
  • 2 Kidnappings
  • 37 Burglary
  • 277 Stalking
  • 3,020 Hate Mail & Phone Calls
  • 354 Bomb Threats
  • 9,366 Picketing
  • 641 Blockades
  • In the wake of the January 16 bombing of Northside Family Planning Services in Atlanta, GA, the mainstream press was quick to point out that in 1996, there was "a slight decline in violence" against women's health clinics. But the truth is, women's health clinics remained under siege throughout 1996. Planned Parenthood affiliates reported an average of five incidents of harassment or violence each month in 1996, an increase over 1995.

    Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. recently released a "Preliminary 1996 Chronicle of Clinic Violence." This document represents information about incidents reported to Planned Parenthood's Clinic Defense & Research department and is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all incidents of clinic violence. And it doesn't list the weekly and sometimes daily picketing and numerous threats experienced by many clinics. It serves, however, as an indicator of the frequency and extent of violence directed at women's clinics around the country.

    The following list of attacks in 1996 is taken from the Planned Parenthood report:

    1/4/96: Cleveland, OH--Suspected butyric acid attack at Preterm-Cleveland.

    1/14/96: Grants Pass, OR--Attempted arson at Planned Parenthood of Southwest Oregon Grants Pass family planning clinic.

    1/16/96: Chester County, PA--Reproductive Health and Counseling Center blockaded by approximately 50 people, trapping staff and patients inside.

    1/16/96: Stroudsburg, PA--Man dressed in army-type clothing threatened a staff member at Planned Parenthood of North East Pennsylvania. Spotted peering into the clinic's window, he pointed his finger at her and said, "Bang--you're all dead..."

    1/20/96: Granite City, IL--About 100 people demonstrated outside Hope Clinic for Women.

    1/21/96: Anchorage, AK--Pat Buchanan led a picket from a local church to Planned Parenthood of Alaska.

    1/22/96: Milwaukee, WI--More than 100 people attended an anti-choice rally and march to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

    1/22/96: Eau Claire, WI--Death threat received by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Eau Claire clinic. A man stated over the phone, "If you're still there in one hour, I'm coming to kill you all."

    1/22/96: Riverside, CA--Stink bomb set off at Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties by woman who entered the clinic's waiting room.

    1/30/96: Hilton Head, SC--Bomb threat phoned in to Planned Parenthood of the Low County.

    2/3/96: Washington, DC--Locks vandalized and glued at Planned Parenthood of Metro DC and other area providers.

    2/4/96: West Palm Beach, FL--Planned Parenthood of the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Area burglarized.

    2/10/96: Boca Raton, FL--Glue placed in the locks of Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

    2/11/96: Phoenix, AZ--Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona Bell Road Clinic vandalized and some clinic supplies stolen. Picketed 11 times in February.

    2/23/96: White Plains, NY--Attempted break-in at Planned Parenthood of Westchester an Rockland.

    2/27/96: Houston, TX--Planned Parenthood and Southeast Texas received graphic death threat in the mail.

    2/28/96: Concord, CA--Planned Parenthood: Shasta-Diablo's building sign was destroyed.

    3/5/96: Santa Barbara, CA--Death threat received at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Clinic sites picketed 15 times in March.

    3/9/96: Merrillville, IN--Bomb threat received at Planned Parenthood Association of Northwest/Northeast Indiana.

    3/15/96: Wichita, KS--Bomb threat received at Women's Health Care Services, warning that "one false step and there won't be a building."

    3/16/96: Kansas City, MO--Planned Parenthood of Mid Missouri and Eastern Kansas received a bomb threat from a female caller stating that "she was real sorry, but that at 12:15 the clinic would be blown up."

    3/22/96: Sarasota, FL--Anti-choice organizers from STOPP picketed Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida's 30th anniversary dinner and sent letters to board members' homes.

    3/25/96: Portland, OR--Death threat received at Downtown Women's Center on their voice mail system.

    3/27/96: Charleston, SC--Clinic director and staff at Charleston Women's Medical Clinic threatened by protester.

    3/29/96: Cincinnati, OH--Medical director of Planned Parenthood of South West Ohio and Northern Kentucky had his home leafleted.

    4/1-7/96: Chicago, IL--Operation Rescue mounted a week of protests during Holy Week. They blockaded five clinics, held a rally outside Planned Parenthood of Chicago Area, staged a mock fetus funeral in front of a downtown clinic on Good Friday and protested at a clinic in the suburbs.

    4/5/96: Phoenix, AR--Over 160 people picketed Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona on Good Friday.

    4/9/96: Amarillo, TX--Panhandle Planned Parenthood vandalized.

    4/22/96: Columbus, OH--Front window of Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio smashed in by beer bottle and building vandalized.

    4/27/96: Rapid City, SD--Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota's Rapid City family planning clinic was the target of gunshots.

    April 1996: Trexlertown, PA--Threatening anti-choice phone calls and letters received by Planned Parenthood of Northeast Pennsylvania following the initiation of an information campaign about teen pregnancy.

    5/3/96: Las Vegas, NV--Dr. Paul DeBello shot and seriously wounded in an attempted robbery of Las Vegas' Family Planning Institute.

    5/7/96: Louisville, KY--Planned Parenthood of Louisville broken into.

    5/10/96: Syracuse, NY--Roman Catholic Bishop James Moynihan led approximately 1,200 people on a mile-long walk to Planned Parenthood Center of Syracuse.

    5/11/96: Sarasota, FL--Planned Parenthood of southwest Florida picketed by Operation Rescue, STOPP, and Missionaries to the Preborn.

    5/11/96: Boston, MA--Joseph Scheidler and about 40 others protested outside Planned Parenthood of League of Massachusetts.

    5/18/96: Rochester, NY--50 protesters, led by Fr. Norm Weslin, leaders of the Lambs of Christ, picketed Planned Parenthood of Rochester and the Genesee Valley.

    May 1996: Ft. Worth, TX--Planned Parenthood of North Texas picketed by Trinity Life Coalition. Anti-abortion protesters held a prayer vigil outside the clinic, protesting the initiation of abortion services.

    5/21/96: Pensacola, FL--Death threat received at the Ladies Center.

    5/23/96: Boise, ID--Attempted arson at Women's Health Care Clinic.

    6/6/96: Lincoln, NE--Anti-abortion protesters followed Planned Parenthood of Lincoln's physician from his home to a restaurant, and then to the clinic. The same group showed up at his wife's place of employment on June 11.

    6/11/96: Fargo, ND--Martin Wishnatsky, a Lamb of Christ, chained himself to Fargo Women's Health Center.

    7/2/96: Augusta, GA--Threatening note found on the back porch of Planned Parenthood of Augusta.

    7/7/96: Boise, ID--Women's Health Care Clinic sustained over $30,000 in damages from the second arson in two months.

    7/12/96: Spokane, WA--Planned Parenthood of Spokane and Whitman Counties Valley family planning clinic extensively damaged by a powerful pipe bomb. The bomb exploded minutes before a nearby bank was robbed by a group of heavily armed men in camouflage fatigues. In April, a similar robbery/bombing occurred at the same bank and at the local newspaper office. Notes were left tying the activities to the Phineas Priesthood, a militant white supremacist group.

    7/17/96: Wichita, KS--Four bullet holes found in the <%-3>executive director's window at Planned Parenthood of Kansas.

    7/18-20/96: Cincinnati and Dayton, OH--American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) leaders targeted the Women's Med Centers of Cincinnati and Dayton and the home of abortion provider, Dr. Martin Haskell.

    7/19-20/96: Wichita, KA--Approximately 150 protesters picketed Women's Health Care Services, the clinic where Dr. George Tiller was shot.

    7/23/96: New York, NY--Approximately 10 people illegally entered Eastern Women's Center and locked themselves to equipment in the operating room.

    8/1/96: Birmingham, AL--Mike Walker, leader of "National Association of Planned Parenthood Fighters" and signer of the justifiable homicide petition, issued a press release announcing a new organization called the "Justifiable Homicide Fellowship."

    8/7/96: Lincoln, NE--Joseph Scheidler picketed Planned Parenthood of Lincoln, met with bishop and promoted the new version of his book, Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion.

    Englewood, NJ--Five anti-abortion extremist entered Metropolitan Medical Associates and chained themselves together and to the door in the waiting room.

    8/10-14/96: San Diego, CA--About 70 demonstrators entered the building of Family Planning Associates and lined the hallway, blocking the clinic entrance. Other anti-choice events occurred during the Republican National Convention, including picketing and holding large posters of aborted fetuses at clinics and off-site political gatherings.

    8/18/96: Fargo, ND--500 people participated in the annual anti-choice "March for Christ" and prayed outside the Fargo Women's Health Organization.

    8/23/96: New Haven, CT--Bomb threat received by Planned Parenthood of Connecticut.

    8/26/96: New Haven, CT--Vandalism, broken windows, and computer stolen at Planned Parenthood of Connecticut.

    9/10/96 Tempe, AZ--A man came into Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona, asked about abortion, and then proceeded to smash windows and computers with a club. Brian Charles said he was following God's orders to destroy an abortion clinic. He threatened the staff and destroyed about $15,000 worth of equipment.

    9/19/96 Eugene, OR--Bomb scare at Planned Parenthood Health Services SW Oregon Eugene clinic. A device rigged to resemble a bomb was found in the dumpster.

    9/21/96 Tulsa, OK--Planned Parenthood of Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas Broken Arrow family planning clinic fire-bombed. The following day, a message was left on the answering machine claiming credit for the bomb and threatening further damage.

    9/21/96: Tempe, AZ--Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona evacuated the clinic due to a suspicious package found at the clinic. Police detonated the box, delaying services for several hours.

    10/8/96: San Antonio, TX--Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas vandalized. Huge swastikas were painted on three sides of the building.

    10/17/96: San Antonio, TX--Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas burglarized and approximately $10,000 worth of equipment stolen.

    10/30/96: Springfield, OH--Planned Parenthood of West Central Ohio Sidney clinic vandalized. Red blood-like substance was splattered on the front door.

    11/3/96: Anchorage, AK--BBs were shot into the clinic window of Planned Parenthood of Alaska.

    11/7/96: Las Vegas, NV--Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Las Vegas clinic broken into and office equipment stolen.

    11/9/96: Elm Grove, WI--The neighborhood surrounding a board member's home leafleted with the name, address and association with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

    11/11/96: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada--Butyric acid dumped into the rooftop airvents at the Mortentaler Clinic.

    This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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