HOW GOV'T ABETS ANTI-CHOICE TERRORISTS. By Rebeca Toledo
Workers World 1/19/95
HOW GOV'T ABETS ANTI-CHOICE TERRORISTS.
By Rebeca Toledo
In the past decade, 150 women's health clinics in the U.S. have been
attacked by right-wing, anti-choice forces. These attacks have
ranged from arson fires and physical assaults to murders.
Health-care providers from doctors to clinic receptionists have been
the targets. Five people have been shot to death in the past two
In December, the Feminist Majority Foundation made public a study
showing that 52 percent of clinics surveyed had experienced some
violence during the first seven months of 1994. In Pensacola, Fla.,
two doctors and one escort had been killed by anti-abortion
Yet each time such a horror occurs, government officials explain it
as the work of a loner acting on his own.
However, press reports show that John Salvi, the accused gun wielder
in three separate attacks on women's health clinics in Brookline,
Mass., and Norfolk, Va., did have links to anti-choice forces. He
had attended meetings of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and a
receipt bearing that name was found in his truck.
Salvi was only marginally employed. He even failed to pick up his
last paycheck. Yet he was carrying over $1,000 in cash when he was
finally arrested in Norfolk on Jan. 1.
The phone number of Rev. Donald Spitz, the director of Pro-Life
Virginia, was found in Salvi's apartment in New Hampshire. Spitz is
a notorious advocate of killing pro-choice activists. He stood
outside Salvi's jail cell in Norfolk shouting, "We love you. Thank
you for what you did in the name of Jesus."
Many in the pro-choice movement are asking what Salvi's connections
are to the anti-abortion groups. Yet the government also describes
Salvi as a loner, perhaps deranged. He has pleaded "not guilty" to
the murders and is expected to use an insanity defense.
IF IT HAD BEEN BANKS INSTEAD OF CLINICS
To get a clearer idea of the lack of government and media reaction
to this assault on women, consider this question: What if 150 banks
had been attacked instead of 150 women's clinics?
Would government officials be saying they see no evidence of
conspiracy? Would they be saying the attacks were isolated
incidents? Would they casually call for calm on both sides--that of
the bankers and of the bombers?
No, in that case Chase Manhattan, Citibank and their ilk would be up
in arms. And Clinton, Gingrich and the whole gang would join
together and order the Justice Department, the FBI and every local
police force to take action.
The capitalist government will go to any length to protect and
defend the rich and propertied class and its real estate, not only
in the United States but all over the world.
When U.S.-based corporations--or even their long-term financial
interests--are threatened in Haiti, Somalia, or the Persian/Arabian
Gulf, they call on the Pentagon. It's called "national security."
What about women's security? Women and their supporters are being
told by the right wing that if they even dare to enter an abortion
clinic they will face death. Yet Attorney General Janet Reno's first
response to these killings was that the federal authorities haven't
got the wherewithal to protect the clinics.
The big-business media, which would be in an uproar if banks were
the targets, are relatively silent. It would be easy enough to show
how dangerous the anti-abortion zealots are and how they are
comforted by the whole right-wing movement against choice.
Along with Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing bigots,
the Catholic Church hierarchy plays a role comforting the
"right-to-life" death squads. John Cardinal O'Connor, archbishop of
New York and a long-time rightwinger, addressed the abortion issue
in his homily of Jan. 8.
He didn't even denounce the murders of the two women in Brookline.
He didn't call for a moratorium on anti-choice protests, as his
counterpart in Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law, was forced to do.
O'Connor stated that he will call no moratorium against clinic
demonstrations unless there is first a moratorium on abortions. He
went on to praise Bishop Thomas Daily, who leads monthly protests
against women's health clinics in Brooklyn.
This is the so-called moderate anti-abortion movement. It calls
itself "Right to Life," but it gives comfort to death squads.
Women's clinics exist because of the need for women-focused health
care. It is no secret that women's health issues are not given much
weight in this bourgeois society. However, besides providing
abortions, women's clinics deliver substantial overall health care
for women of all ages, for lesbians, and especially for low-income
It is up to women and their supporters to defend their own rights.
Through protests in the streets, women secured the right to safe,
legal abortions in the first place. Current protests of the clinic
murders have awakened widespread support from the population.
What was won 22 years ago on Jan. 22, 1973, with the Roe vs. Wade
decision can be defended with continued struggle today.
(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if
source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W.
17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: [email protected] For
subscription info send message to: [email protected])