Almost three years to the day since Kansas abortion provider and women’s rights advocate Dr. George Tiller was assassinated by an anti-choice activist, three reproductive health organizations have fallen victim to arson attacks. Two women’s health clinics in the Atlanta, Georgia, area were targeted in late May 2012, followed by a third arson committed against Women With A Vision, a women’s reproductive health organization in New Orleans, Louisiana.
These violent attacks follow a string of burglaries committed against Atlanta-area clinics earlier this year and the passage of HB 954, a “fetal pain” bill which outlaws most abortions after 20 weeks in Georgia. Both Georgia clinics attacked were involved with the group of OB/GYNs who spoke out publicly against the bill.
Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), said in a statement released to member clinics across the country that she is “…concerned about the escalation and activity….It’s not a good sign when one arson follows another, after following several burglaries. Something clearly is escalating there and we’re hoping that the strong law enforcement so far can stop it.”
While these recent incidents should raise alarm, attacks against abortion providers and women’s health clinics happen regularly: the NAF reports 114 attacks against abortion providers in 2011 alone. The mainstream media has failed to identify these attacks as organized acts of domestic terrorism targeting legal abortion providers and supporters. Reporters often frame the story as a “lone wolf” behaving violently and contrast with the “nonviolence” of most organized anti-abortion groups. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) reported on this deliberate media separation between the “pro-life” movement and domestic terrorist militias in 1995, calling the mainstream media’s handling “a quasi-conspiracy itself.” The FAIR report quoted Planned Parenthood researcher (and Public Eye editorial board member) Fred Clarkson: “For some reason, the same blind eye that’s been turned to the domestic terrorism we call clinic violence remains turned that way even when we have militia groups among whose major issues is being opposed to abortion.” Seventeen years later, this description still appears to hold true.