For the second year, the Feminist Majority Foundation concluded a nationwide survey of anti-abortion violence in the United States.
The survey collected data on acts of violence targeted at clinics and health care workers during the first seven months of 1994 and following the July 1994 murders of Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James Barrett, in Pensacola, Florida. In September of 1994, surveys were mailed to 819 clinics. Follow-up calls were made to these clinics and, in some cases, survey responses were obtained via phone interviews. Between September 15 and November 30, surveys were completed and returned by 314 clinics for a response rate of 38.3%. Data was analyzed using SPSS-X (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) uni-variate and bi-variate statistical techniques.
This survey represents one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on anti-abortion violence directed at clinics, patients, and health care workers. The 1993 clinic violence survey included 281 clinics out of 966 for a response rate of 29.1%.
The 1994 sample of 314 clinics included facilities in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (See Appendix B for a state-by-state breakdown of clinics that responded.) The percentage of clinic practice devoted to abortion ranged from under 5% to over 75%. The survey results show 42.4% of the clinics were for-profit institutions, 33.4% were non-profit clinics, and 23.9% were private practices. Almost all of these clinics provided a wide range of gynecological and other health care services in addition to abortion.
Clinics responding to the survey were assured that their individual responses would remain confidential. Clinics are identified by name or state only if the incidents and consequences of the violence are a matter of public record or if the Feminist Majority Foundation was given permission to include the details of the incident in this report.
Clinic Violence Survey
One in Ten Clinics Lost Staff: But Staff Losses Less Than 1993
In comparison with 1993 survey data, fewer clinic staff members quit during the first seven months of 1994 as a result of violence Clinics in 1994 experienced the resignation of physicians, nurses, and administrative personnel. In one-quarter of these clinics, the staff member who resigned was a physician, 42% of those who resigned were nurses and 32% were administrators or staff assistants. Some clinics experienced multiple resignations as in the case of one clinic which, since January 1994, had to replace a physician, a nurse and two administrative assistants.
Other Health Services Disrupted at Clinics: 92.4% of Clinics Provide Services In Addition to Abortion
Anti-abortion violence not only has limited access to abortion, but also has prevented patients, particularly low-income women and their families, from receiving a wide range of other important health care services. Of the clinics that responded to the survey, almost all (94.9%) reported that they provided services in addition to abortion.
Most clinics (92.4%) provided birth control. Other services included cancer screening, provided by 69.7% (219) clinics; menopause counseling and treatment, provided by 50.3% (158) clinics; PMS counseling and treatment, provided by 49.7% (156) clinics; tubal ligation, provided by 35.7% (112) clinics; infertility counseling and treatment, provided by 27.1% (85) clinics; pre-natal care, provided by 26.1% (82) clinics; adoption and related services, provided by 23.9% (75) clinics; and vasectomies, provided by 16.2% (5 1) clinics.
Many clinics reported providing a range of additional services such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, drug screening, marriage physicals, vaccinations, yearly gynecological exams, donor insemination, pregnancy testing and informational services such as workshops, seminars and forums on issues relating to women's health. Clearly, the great majority of women's clinics provide an important range of critical health services.
Death Threats Rise Since July 1994 Pensacola Murders
One grim statistic not covered by the survey is the number of killings and clinic personnel shootings since 1991. In 1991 two clinic workers were shot at a Springfield, Missouri clinic. One worker was paralyzed from the waist down, the other was wounded in the stomach. In 1993, Dr. David Gunn was killed outside a clinic in Pensacola, Florida, Dr. George Tiller was shot outside of his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, and Dr. Wayne Patterson was killed in Mobile, Alabama. This year, Dr. John Bayard Britton and his escort James Barrett were killed in Pensacola. June Barrett, James Barrett's spouse, survived gunshot wounds. The tactic of shooting doctors has spread to neighboring countries. In November, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot while eating breakfast in his home in Vancouver, Canada.
Furthermore, the shooting spree which resulted in the death of Dr. Britton and Barrett was not a random event. Murdering doctors has become an accepted tactic by some extremists in the anti-abortion movement. Last year a declaration signed by over 30 anti-abortion extremists outlined their position of "Justifiable Homicide" against practitioners of abortion. Britton and Barrett were murdered by petition author, Paul Hill, who attempted to use the justifiable homicide defense in court during his murder trial.
The death of James Barrett and the attempted murder of June Barrett shows that even those who provide protection for doctors are also at risk. In an open letter to the United States Congress, David Trosch, a Catholic priest and strong advocate of justifiable homicide, warned that those persons connected with abortion-providing doctors are also at risk of becoming targets for anti-abortion extremist activity.
The murders of Britton and Barrett appear to have escalated death threats against clinic personnel. The survey measured increases in types of violence following the July 29th Pensacola murders. Since July, 16.6 % (52) clinics reported an increase in death threats. This statistic is especially striking when placed in the context of other types of violence. Only 5.4% (17) of the clinics reported an increase in stalking; 2.9% (9) reported an increase in bomb threats, 2.9% (9) reported an increase in blockades, 2.2% (7) reported an increase in bombings, 1.9% (6) reported an increase in arson threats, 1.6% (5) reported an increase in clinic invasions, 1.3% (4) reported an increase in arson, and .3% (1) reported an increase in chemical attacks.
In addition to the rise in death threats after the July murders, another alarming pattern emerged. Our data analysis found a statistically significant correlation between violence and clinic status since the murders of Britton and Barrett. Clinics were asked to assess anti-abortion violence following the July 29th murders. From July 29 through the Fall of 1994, the survey found that non-profit clinics -- which often are more economically vulnerable -- were targeted by anti-abortion violence. Some of the most threatening acts of violence were perpetrated against staff and buildings at non-profit clinics: 40.4% of clinics that reported death threats, 52.9% of clinics that reported stalking and 71.4% of clinics that reported bombin2s were nonprofits. (See Chart 1). Chemical attacks, blockades and invasions, however, appear to be more prevalent at for-profit clinics and private doctor's offices.
Some clinics that experienced little anti-abortion violence in 1993 or early in 1994 suddenly found themselves besieged by violence and threats after the July murders. In Vermont, for example, one bombing was the only form of violence during the first seven months of 1994 reported by the seven clinics participating in the survey. But since the murders, four Vermont clinics recorded increases in bombings, bomb threats, and arson threats.
Furthermore, anti-abortion violence since July was not limited to clinics and doctors who provided abortions. Although not included in the final results of the survey, some non-abortion providing clinics reported incidents of anti-abortion violence. Clinics in Falls Church, VA; Brainerd, MN; Cloquet, MN; Sydney, OH; and St. Albans, VT, and Rapids City, SD were fire bombed after July 29, 1994. Only one arrest has been made (in the Vermont incident), and no FACE charges have been filed. With the exception of the Virginia facility all of the clinics provided family planning, and none provided abortions. As in the past, anti-abortionists are not limiting acts of terrorism to abortion-providers.
Clinic Violence Survey: Death Threats
Death Threats Most Frequently Reported Type of Violence
Death threats were the most frequently reported type of violence in 1994. Almost one-quarter (24.8%) of clinics reported that staff members had been subjected to death threats during the first seven months of 1994.
Home picketing and stalking followed death threats as the types of violence most often experienced by clinic staff. Twenty-two percent (69) of clinics reported that their staff members were picketed at home and 17.8% (56) reported stalking.
Clinics sustained many other forms of violence at the clinic sites: 12.1% (38) of all clinics reported being subjected to blockades; 10.5% (33) were invaded; 13.1 % (41) received bomb threats; 3.8% (12) were bombed; 3.8% (12) received arson threats; 2.5% (8) sustained losses due to arson; 3.2% (10) were chemically attacked; and 1.9% (6) were the targets of gunfire. .
Vandalism also plagued clinics during the first seven months of 1994. Of the clinics surveyed, 34.8% reported acts of vandalism directed at their clinics. Vandalism included glue put in the locks of clinic doors, nails placed in clinic driveways and parking lots, paint on walls, broken windows and other incidents intended to destroy or deface clinic property or to interfere with the provision of services at the clinic. Additional acts of vandalism included tearing down and defacing signs and other clinic property, spilling water on walkways in order to freeze them during winter months, spreading tar in clinic parking lots, and scratching or "keying" staff cars.
Death Threats Increase Since 1994:
Blockades, Invasions, Home Picketing and Chemical Attacks Decrease
Our survey found that during the first seven months of 1994 anti-abortion extremists have reduced blockades, invasions, home ticketing, and chemical attacks in favor of more violent strategies in comparison to the similar time period in 1993. The most personally threatening form of violence directed at clinic staff -- death threats -- increased significantly in 1994. At 14% (44) clinics, staff reported an increase in death threats compared with the first seven months of 1993. Only 4.8% (15) clinics felt that death threats had decreased. Almost half of the clinics (46.2%) reported that the level of death threats had remained the same. Death threats were the only type of violence for which clinics reported a greater increase than decrease.
Blockades were the strategy which the highest number of clinics reported had decreased between the first seven months of 1993 and the first seven months of 1994. Twenty-three percent of clinics (73) experienced a decline in clinic blockades. This decrease in the use of clinic blockades can, in part, be attributed to the increasing effectiveness of abortion rights strategies to prevent blockades. Only 4.5% (14) of the clinics surveyed reported an increase in clinic blockades; many other clinics 49.4% (155) reported that the level of clinic blockades remained the same since 1993.
Of the clinics surveyed, 9.2% (29) reported a decrease in stalking, 46.5% of clinics said that the amount of stalking had remained the same, and 8.9% (28) reported that stalking had increased since 1993. Home picketing, another form of violence directed at staff members, was reported by 11.8% (24) of the clinics as having decreased. Almost half of the clinics, 47.5% (149) reported that home picketing stayed the same and 7.6% (24) reported an increase.
Violence directed at clinic buildings and property also experienced net decreases during the first seven months of 1994. Since 1993, 11.5% (36) of clinics reported a decrease in bombings, while 5.7% (18) clinics reported an increase in bombings. An even 50% reported that the level of bombings remained the same. Of the clinics, 6.7% (21) reported a decrease and 4.1% (13) clinics reported an increase in arson attacks; 49.7% (156) of the clinics reported that the level of arson attacks remained the same.
Since 1993, clinics reported decreases in invasions, chemical attacks and gunfire. According to the survey results, 10.2% (32) reported a decrease in invasions, while 50% (157) said that invasions stayed the same and 2.9% (9) clinics reported an increase in invasions. Decreases in chemical attacks since 1993 were reported by 12.1 % of clinics, with 1.9% (6) clinics reporting increases and 48.1% (151) of clinic saying the level of chemical attacks had stayed the same. Incidents of gun fire decreased at 3.8% (12) clinics and rose at 1.3% (4) clinic. Slightly over half (51%) of clinics surveyed reported that in 1994 the level of gunfire incidents had stayed the same.
Clinic Violence Survey: Conclusion
In 1994, death threats against health care workers providing abortion services reached an all-time high. Death threats were the most frequently reported type of violence, the form of violence that most increased since last year's survey, and the type of violence that increased the most seriously after the July 1994 murders of Dr. Britton and James Barrett in Pensacola, Florida. Other forms of violence experienced some decrease in 1994. But overall clinic violence continued unabated: over half of clinics in the survey reported one or more forms of violence.
Unless law enforcement officials at local, state, and federal levels improve efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of this violence, anti-abortion extremists will continue to terrorize clinic staffs. Clinic services, which include a wide range of gynecological and other treatments in addition to abortion, will continue to be disrupted.
The survey findings illustrate that law enforcement response is correlated with the commission of certain acts of clinic violence. In other words, poor law enforcement response creates a climate in which anti-abortion violence flourishes. Conversely, effective law enforcement response prevents the escalation of violence at clinics.
Law enforcement now has the tools to end the reign of terror at clinics. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was uniquely crafted to provide federal law enforcement officials with the jurisdiction and penalties to combat the most threatening type of violence that clinics in this survey report: death threats.
Moreover, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions upholding the use of RICO to prosecute concerted efforts to close clinics and upholding clinic buffer zones provide clinics and law enforcement officials at all levels strong tools to stem clinic violence. Vigorous investigation and prosecution of FACE and other local, state, and federal legal mechanisms is necessary to protect the lives of health care workers and women's health care services.
APPENDIX A: Clinics Responding to Survey State-By-State
Alabama 9 Alaska 3 Arizona 9 Arkansas 7 California 35 Colorado 8 Connecticut 8 Delaware 2 Florida 25 Georgia 7 Illinois 9 Indiana 6 Iowa 4 Kansas 3 Kentucky 3 Louisiana 2 Maine 2 Maryland 8 Massachusetts 2 Michigan 12 Minnesota 4 Missouri 2 Montana 2 Nebraska 3 Nevada 1 New Hampshire 3 New Jersey 6 New Mexico 3 New York 19 North Carolina 14 North Dakota 1 Ohio 14 Oklahoma 2 Oregon 4 Pennsylvania 10 Rhode Island 1 South Carolina 2 South Dakota 1 Tennessee 6 Texas 16 Utah 2 Vermont 7 Virginia 7 Washington 9 West Virginia 1 Wisconsin 6 Puerto Rico 1 DC 3
State-by-State Analysis For 12 States Experiencing Highest Levels of Anti-abortion Violence
Eleven out of 35 clinics in California reported violent incidents during 1994. Seven clinics reported that their staffs were stalked during the first seven months of 1994. Also during the first seven months of 1994 were reports of home picketing and death threats by four clinics. Three clinics reported blockades and invasions and two clinics reported chemical attacks. Since 1993, five clinics reported an increase in death threats, and five clinics reported an increase in stalking. Two clinics reported an increase in chemical attacks since 1993, and two clinics reported an increase in invasions. One clinic each reported an increase in clinic blockades, clinic invasions, gunfire, and arson. Since the July murders 10 clinics reported a rise in death threats, stalking increased at five clinics, and clinic blockades increased at two clinics. FACE complaints were lodged by 11 clinics.
Twelve clinics from Florida participated in the survey. During the first seven months of 1994 four clinics reported home picketing and three reported stalking. One clinic was chemically attacked. One clinic each reported death threats, blockades, invasions, and gunfire. Since 1993, three clinics reported an increase in stalking and death threats. Blockades, bombings, and gunfire rose at two clinics and home picketing, invasions, and chemical attacks were reported as rising by one clinic per category. Since the July murders, death threats rose at two clinics and one clinic each reported a rise in stalking and bomb threats. FACE complaints were lodged by three clinics.
Nine clinics in Illinois reported anti-abortion violence. During the first seven months of 1994, two clinics reported receiving death threats. Clinic staff at one clinic reported clinic blockades, and staff at another clinic were stalked during the same time period. Two clinics reported an increase since 1993 in bombings, and one clinic each reported an increase in death threats, stalking, clinic blockades, gunfire, and arson. Since the July murders two clinics reported an increase in death threats, and staff at four other clinics reported either being stalked, receiving death threats, receiving arson threats, or surviving an arson attack. None of these Illinois clinics filed a FACE complaint.
Six clinics in Indiana responded to the survey. During the first seven months of 1994, three clinics reported stalking and home picketing, two reported death threats, and one reported being attacked by gunfire. Since 1993, two clinics reported an increase in stalking; two clinics reported an increase in death threats; and one clinic reported an increase in gunfire. Since the July murders two clinics reported a rise in death threats, and one clinic each reported an increase in stalking and clinic blockades. FACE complaints were filed by one clinic.
Of the twelve clinics that responded to the survey in Michigan, three were blockaded; staff from two were stalked, another two had staff that were picketed at home, one clinic was invaded; and another reported receiving death threats. Since 1993, one clinic reported an increase in blockades, another reported an increase in stalking, and a third reported an increase in gunfire attacks. Since the July murders one clinic each reported an increase in chemical attacks, stalking, invasions, and death threats. Two clinics filed FACE complaints.
Only two clinics from Missouri responded to the survey. These clinics, however, have experienced a range of anti-abortion violence including blockades, invasions, chemical attacks, home picketing, stalking and death threats, all in the first seven months of 1994. Furthermore, the clinics reported a rise in chemical attacks and bombings since 1993. They also reported a rise in invasions and death threats since the Pensacola murders in July.
Nineteen clinics in New York completed the survey. Within the first seven months of 1994, five clinics reported home picketing, four reported clinic invasions, three reported death threats, two reported chemical attacks, two reported stalking, and one reported gunfire attacks. Since 1993, four clinics reported an increase in bombings, and one clinic each cited an increase in chemical attacks, stalking, invasions, and home picketing. Since the July slayings, death threats increased at three clinics and bomb threats at one clinic. Only one clinic reported a potential FACE violation.
Of the fourteen clinics that responded to the survey in North Carolina, four reported receiving death threats, three reported clinic invasions, and one each reported being targeted by blockades, home picketing, and stalking. Since 1993 two clinics reported a rise in death threats, two clinics reported an increase in stalking and one clinic reported an increase in home picketing. Three clinics reported an increase in death threats since the Pensacola slayings. Two clinics reported an increase in stalking and bomb threats, and one clinic each reported an increase in arson threats and invasions. FACE complaints were filed by one clinic, to which law enforcement officials responded.
In Pennsylvania three of the ten clinics that responded to the survey reported clinic blockades during the first seven months in 1994. One clinic was invaded, one clinic reported home picketing, one reported death threats, and one reported gunfire attacks. Since 1993, three clinics reported an increase in bombings, and one clinic each reported an increase in blockades, stalking, gunfire, invasions, and death threats. Since July, one clinic reported an increase in death threats and one clinic reported an increase in bomb threats. Only one FACE complaint was filed.
In Texas, five of the sixteen clinics in the survey reported death threats to staff during the first seven months of 1994. Four clinics experienced invasions, staff from four clinics experienced home picketing, two clinics reported blockades. One clinic was chemically attacked, a second was fired upon, and staff from a third clinic reported being stalked. Since 1993, clinics in Texas reported that blockades, chemical attacks, stalking, gunfire, invasions, death threats and home picketing rose. Since the July murders one clinic reported a rise in death threats. Two clinics filed FACE complaints.
Of the seven clinics in Virginia who responded to the survey, four have staff who experienced home picketing, three have staff who were stalked, four clinics received death threats and one was blockaded. Two clinics reported a rise in death threats since 1993, and one clinic in each category of bombings, arson and home picketing reported an increase. Since July, the rate of death threats increased for two clinics and one clinic each reported a rise in bombings and arson attacks. Only one clinic reported a FACE violation to federal authorities.
Six clinics from Wisconsin responded to the survey. Of these, five had staffs who experienced home picketing, three clinics had staff who were stalked, three clinics received death threats, three were blockaded and one was chemically attacked. Two clinics reported a rise in death threats since 1993, and two clinics reported a rise in home picketing. One clinic reported a rise in stalking. Since the July slayings two clinics reported an increase in death threats. A FACE complaint filed in Wisconsin resulted in the conviction of clinic blockaders.