chart of types of clinic violence by year

There was a Huge Increase in Violence and Threats Against Abortion Providers in 2015

According to the National Abortion Federation’s latest annual report on violence directed at abortion providers, there was a dramatic and disturbing spike in attacks, threats, and harassment in the wake of the undercover smear videos targeting Planned Parenthood.

Slate reports:chart showing uptick since last year

The report details an increase in threats made to providers—from a single threat in 2014 to 94 in 2015—and a jump in online hate speech, from 91 documented cases in 2014 to 25,839 in 2015. The number of clinic blockades nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015. And incidents of picketing at facilities, which, according to the report, had been on the wane, increased from 5,402 in 2014 to a record-breaking 21,715 incidents in 2015.

NAF couldn’t even keep up with the barrage of online threats until they hired an outside security firm to track them, so they estimate the true number is over 100,000. Finally, Robert Dear’s rampage at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs in November — which seemed to be directly inspired by the inflammatory videos — killed three people and wounded nine. It was the most deadly attack on a clinic ever. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 185 arsons directed at abortion providers. A survey by the Feminist Majority Foundation last year suggested anti-choice intimidation has been growing since 2010.

NAF — as well as the FBI — was actually sounding the alarm about the uptick in violence and threats before Dear’s spree, warning that there was a nine-fold increase in harassment in the months after the release of the videos. But that didn’t — and hasn’t — stopped conservative media makers and politicians from demonizing doctors who perform abortions with an utterly irresponsible disregard for the impact of their rhetoric. As NAF president Vicki Saporta says, “It’s not surprising that when abortion providers are publicly branded as ‘murderers’ who must be stopped, that someone will take the law into their own hands and resort to violence.”

Image credits: NAF

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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