CARAL Factsheet On Clinic Violence

CLINIC VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION, AND TERRORISM


On Friday, July 29th, Dr. John Britton and Mr. James Barratt were gunned down in front of the Ladies Clinic in Pensacola, Florida. The Reverend Paul Hill, Director of Defensive Action, an organization that advocates the use of violence against Doctors who provide abortions, was arrested and charged with murder. These brutal murders are the latest of numerous violent attacks, orchestrated and perpetuated by opponents of a woman's right to choose, against medical professionals who provide abortion services.

The inflammatory rhetoric and tactics of anti-choice extremists created a climate of intolerance, tension and violence that escalated to these latest murders.

The reaction of some anti-choice leaders to Dr. Gunn's slaying in 1993 reveals the extremism and callousness of some elements of the anti-choice movement.

Anti-choice groups have also reacted by placing the blame for Dr. Gunn's death on the pro-choice federal government.

The slaying of Dr. Gunn prompted more physicians to go public with their own reports of death threats and harassment. The personal accounts of these physicians illustrate the widespread violence and harassment abortion providers must endure in order to provide basic health care to their patients.

More and more women are at risk of losing access to safe abortion because of the escalating shortage of physicians who are trained, qualified and willing to perform the procedure. The violence and terrorism of anti-choice extremists is discouraging many medical residents from even learning how to perform abortions.29

These terrorist attacks against clinics and clinic personnel also impose considerable financial costs to the communities in which they occur.

Recent escalations of violence and blockades at reproductive health care clinics highlight the urgent need for the enactment of federal legislation that will protect access to reproductive health care services, as well as for the vigorous enforcement of existing laws that protect against assault, arson, trespass, and harassment. The United States Congress recently passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act ("FACE"), which President Clinton signed into law. This law makes it a federal crime to blockade health care clinics, while respecting the right of anti-choice protestors to demonstrate peacefully as protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. FACE protects the ability of medical professionals to provide, and women to receive critical health care without risking physical harm.


Notes
  1. National Abortion Federation, Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers, (Washington, D.C.: National Abortion Federation) 1993.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Richard Lacayo, "One Doctor Down, How Many More?" Time, 22 March 1993, 46.
  4. Ellen Goodman, "Portrait of Fanaticism," Boston Globe, 29 November 1984, 23.
  5. Frank Fisher, "Acid Attacks," Associated Press, 3 March 1993.
  6. "The Death of Dr. Gunn," New York Times (editorial), 12 March 1993, A28.
  7. Mimi Hall, "Abortion Foes Target Doctors," USA Today, 5 February 1992, 3A.
  8. Joyce Price, "Operation Rescue Chief Expects Increase in Pro-Life Protesters," Washington Times, 14 January 1993, A10.
  9. Deborah Sharp, "`Boot Camp' Takes Abortion Battle to Florida City," USA Today, 1 February 1993, 5A.
  10. Larry Rohter, "Fathoming the Abortion Clinic Gunman," New York Times, 12 March 1993, A17.
  11. Sara Rimer, "Abortion Foes' Boot Camp Ponder Doctor's Death," New York Times, 19 March 1993, A12.
  12. Amy Goldstein, "Area Feels Shockwave of Fla. Killing," Washington Post, 13 March 1993, B1.
  13. "The Death of Dr. Gunn," New York Times (editorial), 12 March 1993, A28.
  14. Rescue America, Press Release, 10 March 1993.
  15. Felicity Barringer, "Slaying is a Call to Arms for Abortion Clinics," New York Times, 12 March 1993, A1.
  16. Garry Mitchell, "Abortion Shooting," Associated Press, 11 March 1993.
  17. "Volunteer Doctors Step in for Gunn," Washington Times, 14 March 1993, A3.
  18. Missionaries to the Pre-born, Press Release, 10 March 1993.
  19. Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, Orlando Sentinel, 10 March 1993.
  20. Richard Lacayo, "One Doctor Down, How Many More?" Time, 22 March 1993, 47.
  21. Garry Mitchell, "Abortion Shooting," Associated Press, 11 March 1993.
  22. Lynne Bumpus-Hooper, Orlando Sentinel, 10 March 1993.
  23. Felicity Barringer, "Slaying Is a Call to Arms for Abortion Clinics," New York Times, 12 March 1993, A1.
  24. Ibid.
  25. CBS, "60 Minutes," 2 February 1992, 5-6 (transcript).
  26. Felicity Barringer, "Slaying is a Call To Arms for Abortion Clinics," New York Times, 12 March 1993, A1.
  27. Richard Lacayo, "One Doctor Down, How Many More?" Time, 22 March 1993, 47.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Helene Cooper, "Medical Schools, Students Shun Abortion Study," Wall Street Journal, 12 March 1993, B1.
  30. Stanley K. Henshaw and Jennifer Van Vort, "Abortion Services in the United States, 1987 and 1988," Family Planning Perspectives 22, no. 3 (May/June 1990), 106.
  31. Stanley K. Henshaw and Jennifer Van Vort, eds., Abortion Factbook, 1992 Edition: Readings, Trends, and State and Local Data to 1988 (New York: Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1992), 190-95.
  32. Henshaw and Van Vort, "Abortion Services in the United States," 104.
  33. Helene Cooper, "Medical Schools, Students Shun Abortion Study," Wall Street Journal, 12 March 1993, B1.
  34. Larry Rohter, "Doctor is Slain During Protest Over Abortions," New York Times, 11 March 1993, A1.
  35. Helene Cooper, "Medical Schools, Students Shun Abortion Study," Wall Street Journal, 12 March 1993, B1.
  36. "Clinic Works to Find Doctor for Abortions," Associated Press, 27 November 1992.
  37. Mimi Hall, "Abortion Foes Target Five Cities," USA Today, 3 September 1991, 4A.
  38. "Operation Rescue to Leave Buffalo," Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3 May 1992, A2.

CARAL-North
330 Townsend St., Suite 204 San Francisco, CA 94107
415-546-7211-office 415-546-7413-hotline

caral@aol.com
Return to Clinic Violence Page
Return to CARAL Home Page

Created by Kathy Watkins (Fall 1994)
Send comments and questions to caral@aol.com