Although the report showed no attempted murders and a decrease in burglary and vandalism, the increase in actions designed to prevent women from obtaining abortions is troubling to pro-choice advocates. One of the most publicized examples occurred in Kentucky in May 2017 when a dozen protestors from an anti-abortion group called “Operation Save America” linked arms to block the front door of one of the state’s abortion clinics.
The issue was eventually taken to court, where one of the activists — an “evangelical activist” named Jason Storms — argued that women who get abortions are committing homicide. “A mother who has knowingly, willingly chosen to kill her own child out of pure selfish motives, she’s guilty as a murderer in the eyes of the law,” Storms told CBS News at the time. The court disagreed and charged the protestors with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
But the incident pales in comparison to the death threats that abortion providers receive — 62 of them in 2017 and 33 in 2016. In one example detailed by the NAF report, a provider at a clinic received a phone call from a stranger saying he would do “anything and everything” to stop the “unmitigated murder” of fetuses. “I will kill to stop these atrocities,” the caller reportedly said. “I will blow you up if I have to, burn the clinic down. I will do whatever is necessary. I swear to God I will.” In an even more chilling call (this one recorded), a provider was threatened by a man who said he would bring his AK-47 assault rifle to the clinic and “shoot up” the facility.
In a press release about the report, NAF President and CEO Vicki Saporta spoke out against the threats of violence. “We know that hostile rhetoric, including rhetoric from anti-abortion elected officials, can incite some to take the law into their own hands by threatening abortion providers and committing acts of violence,” said Saporta. “We cannot be silent as others continue to publicly vilify doctors and clinic staff, thereby jeopardizing their personal safety, in order to advance their own personal and political agendas.”
If attempts to prevent safe abortions in the United States increased in 2017, it’s likely they will continue to do so. President Trump, although an early pro-choice advocate, has been firmly anti-abortion throughout his presidency. In January, he became the first sitting president to give a speech at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
His comments, referring to anti-abortion activism as a “beautiful thing,” run in direct contradiction to the majority of the American public’s views on abortion. According to the most recent data from the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
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