National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

[Content Note: Violence]

Today, March 10th, is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. It was named such following the assassination of Dr. David Gunn in 1993.

Dr. Gunn was murdered in 1993.
In 1993, Dr. Tiller was shot but not killed.
In 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James H. Barrett, were assassinated.
In 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot but not killed.
In 1995, Dr. Hugh Short was shot and killed.
In 1997, Dr. Jack Fainman was shot but not killed, the shooter was a suspect in an unnamed NY physician's murder
In 1998, Dr. Barnett Slepian is shot and killed. His murderer, James Koop, was the suspect in 1997's shooting of Dr. Fainman and the other unnamed doctor.
In 2009, Dr. Tiller was shot, again, and killed.

In 1994, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols were shot and killed at clinics in MA.
In 1998, Officer Robert Sanderson was killed during a clinic bombing and nurse Emily Lyon was severely injured.

Assassination and attempted murder are only two of the dangers doctors and others who work at clinics that provide abortion services. They also face arson and bombing, butyric acid attacks, and anthrax attacks. And: harassment, intimidation, hate mail, and stalking.

The National Abortion Federation has kept a record of violence (.pdf). From 1977 to 2011, there have been:

218 arsons and bombings
99 attempted arson or bombing
656 bomb threats
191 incidents of assault and battery
420 death threats
4 kidnappings
15,062 incidents of hate mail or hate phone calls

There are several more categories. NAF also notes:
All numbers represent incidents reported to or obtained by NAF. Actual incidents are likely much higher. Tabulation of trespassing began in 1999 and tabulation of email harassment and hoax devices began in 2002.

1. Incidents recorded are those classified as such by the appropriate law enforcement agency. Incidents that were ruled inconclusive or accidental are not included.

2. Stalking is defined as the persistent following, threatening, and harassing of an abortion provider, staff member, or patient away from the clinic. Tabulation of stalking incidents began in 1993.

3. The "number of arrests" represents the total number of arrests, not the total number of persons arrested. Many blockaders are arrested multiple times.
These stats only go to 2011. If you recall last year in 2012: a Pensacola, FL, clinic was burned down, a Wisconsin clinic was attacked with homemade bomb, two clinics in Georgia were set on fire, a clinic in Louisiana was set ablaze. Those are "just" the fires.
So, it finally happened. After almost a decade in abortion care, I finally received hate mail sent directly to my home. It was shocking and a terrible invasion of my privacy and it made my mother and grandmother cry. I am more angry about that than I am anything else. Because, like most abortion providers, I know that the life I’ve chosen– to provide LEGAL medical care– comes with the threat of harassment.

But here’s the thing. I shouldn’t (and my colleagues shouldn’t) have to accept harassment, intimidation or threats because of the work that we do. My family, husband and friends shouldn’t have to accept that worrying about my safety every day is normal. I shouldn’t have to explain that they don’t need to worry too much because the clinic already has protocols in place to deal with this type of thing– we have F.B.I. contacts and police contacts and know what to do. I should not have to minimize my experience because other friends and colleagues in abortion care experience worse harassment. I should not have to listen to my grandmother cry because the work that I do puts me in danger. The work that I do should not put me in harm’s way. I provide medical care. I don’t work as a police officer or fire fighter or on an oil rig where danger is part of the job. I work in medicine.


I don’t know how long it will take before I stop being nervous when I check my mail. I don’t know how long it will be before I stop worrying that when I drive up to my house it might be vandalized. I do know that I will not stop working in abortion care. I do know that I will continue to push back against the stigma around abortion care by talking publicly about my experiences. And I do know now that my neighbors have my back and are supportive regardless of how they feel personally about abortion. And that my friends and family will do anything to keep me safe– even send me links to video surveillance services and offer to stand guard outside my house.
(Jen, of The Women's Centers)

There aren't many careers that would require someone to deal with sometimes constant threats, harassment, and violence. And deal with having the job itself being constantly under attack because of government intrusion and asshattery.

There are very few careers in which one must face things like this (from Jan 2012):
Operation Rescue, an extremist anti-abortion group, has launched a website - - which lists the photographs and addresses of abortion providers, as well as maps to find their places of business. The website, which describes itself as the "largest collection of documents on America's abortion cartel," aims to list every abortion provider in the country.
Often at risk to themselves, abortion providers--the doctors, nurse practitioners, midwives, nurses, medical assistants, office support staff, escorts & volunteers--protect the lives and health of people by providing them with necessary medical care.

To everyone who does walk that path:


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