Arson. Bomb threats. Bombs. Anthrax. Butyric acid attacks. Assaults. Stalking. Stabbing. Shooting. Kidnapping. Death threats. Murder. In the past three decades, 6,143 acts of violence. Another 156,961 acts of "non-violent" terrorism.
These terrorists are motivated by an extreme fundamentalist ideology, a strange and toxic hybrid of religion and politics that they believe excuses any act, no matter how deadly, in the name of their belief. They are unwavering in their devotion to the cause. They will go to jail. They will spend life in prison. They will even die for it.
It doesn’t matter whether their tactics cross lines, violate laws, take lives. It doesn’t matter that their tactics have resulted indirectly in many more deaths. They believe they serve a higher purpose. They believe they are doing God’s work. They are willing, even seeking, to be martyrs.
And they will not stop. Not until every one of their enemies is dead or driven into hiding. Not until they have remade the world in their twisted image. Make no mistake: they are at war. And they are winning. And the listof casualties grows.
Dr. David Gunn – murdered on March 10, 1993
Dr. John Britton – murdered on July 29, 1994
James Barrett – murdered on July 29, 1994
Shannon Lowney – murdered on December 30, 1994
Lee Ann Nichols – murdered on December 30, 1994
Robert Sanderson – murdered on January 29, 1998
Dr. Barnett Slepian – murdered on October 23, 1998
Dr. George Tiller – murdered on Mary 31, 2009
As tragic as their deaths are, these individual casualties are not the real targets of this war. They are merely collateral damage. Because the real targets are the ones whose names we don't know, but for a fewwho have come to symbolize and stand for the thousands whose names will never be known. The youngest and poorest and most desperate women who have lost their lives for the crime of trying to control their own bodies.
Rosie Jimenez died from an illegal abortion when the Hyde Amendment made a safe, legal abortion prohibitively expensive.
Becky Bell died from an illegal abortion, when the parental consent law in her state prevented her from obtaining a safe, legal abortion.
Spring Adams died, at the age of 13, when her father, who raped and impregnated her, shot and killed her in her sleep when he found out she planned to obtain an abortion.
The soldiers in this war believe that if they shut down every clinic, put every doctor out of business, by intimidation or even murder, they will put an end to abortion. They are wrong. Women have always sought to control their reproduction, and that need will not go away, even if the terrorists kill every single provider, even if the "activists" pass a hundred more laws, even if they succeed in their mission to outlaw abortion completely. Women will again return to those most desperate and dangerous of methods employed by earlier generations who simply wanted the freedom to control their own bodies and their own destinies.
They will throw themselves down stairs. They will drink bleach and turpentine and gunpowder. They will stab themselves with knitting needles, with crochet hooks, with coat hangers. They will ask their boyfriends to beat them with baseball bats.
And thousands of them will die.
Where will the prayers for "life" be then?
A distinction is often made between the violent and non-violent members of this "movement." The government, the media, and the activists are careful to point out that the Scott Roeders and Paul Hills of the world are rare. Most of the activists just want to "inform" women about their options. Most of the activists care about preserving all life, including the lives of the providers and women.
The little old lady who sits outside an abortion clinic, handing out fliers to young frightened women, full of deliberately misleading or outright fabricated information -- she's not doing any harm, is she? She's not like the Army of God, which advocates murdering abortion providers, calls these murderers "American Heroes," and has even circulated a how-to manual.
But grandma, with her pamphlets and her signs? Certainly she's not a terrorist.
the term "domestic terrorism" means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
18 U.S.C. § 2331(5)
The law doesn't consider grandma a terrorist. Because even though she is trying to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, her method of intimidation is legal. She has a First Amendment right to stand outside a health clinic and try to persuade patients not to enter. She has a right to hand out brochures filled with lies so patients will be "informed." She has a right to carry graphic signs, to call the patients "baby killers," to tell them they will burn in hell. Freedom of speech, after all.
And if her words and deeds and false information succeed in their purpose of intimidation and coercion? What will become of the woman grandma has "counseled"? Will she choose to take her chances in the privacy of her own home by drinking bleach? Will she throw herself down the stairs? Will she become another nameless statistic?
Is grandma's "free speech" really all that harmless after all? Because she is part of this same movement. She shares the same goal. She uses the same language. The same talking points. The same pamphlets. She gives her money to the same organizations and helps to elect the same extremist candidates who want to pass law after law after law that results in more dead women.
If this movement is successful, more women will die. That’s not hyperbole. That's a fact. And while even the supposedly non-violent activists claim they are concerned with preserving life, they cannot justify those deaths. Women are dying now, even though abortion is legal. Millions of women have no access to abortion, either because they live in one of the 87 percent of counties that have no providers, or because they do not have the financial means to pay for an abortion, or because their state requires parental consent, or because their state imposes a gag rule on medical providers that forbids them from even providing information to their patients.
So much for "informed consent."
Many states even require misinformation:
17 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following:
- the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (6 states)
- the ability of a fetus to feel pain (9 states)
- long-term mental health consequences for the woman (7 states)
- information on the availability of ultrasound (8 states)
Never mind that these "facts" are simply untrue. There is no link between abortion and breast cancer. There is no ability of a fetus to feel pain in the first trimester (when the overwhelming majority of abortions are obtained). There are no long-term mental health consequences. These are all lies, invented by the movement, and used by even the "harmless" activists, to terrorize women so that they will be too intimidated -- too terrified -- to obtain a legal medical procedure.
But the law does not regard it as terrorism. In fact, there are very few laws that protect women from this kind of terrorism. And the laws that do exist are often not enforced by either the federal or local government.
The federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), passed by Congress in 1994, prohibits the use of intimidation or physical force in order to prevent people from entering a facility that provides reproductive health care. Several states have passed their own versions of the law.
The Supreme Court, as well as several state Supreme Courts, have upheld the various buffer zone laws. But that hasn’t stopped activists who consider their arrests a badge of honor.
But too often, federal and local law enforcement simply cannot be bothered to enforce existing law, and their failure to do so has very real, very tragic consequences.
According to statistics provided by the Department of Justice, the Bush administration brought only about two criminal prosecutions per year in the entire country under the FACE Act, and never more than four in any single year.
Despite the casualties, despite the threats, despite the clearly stated intentions of those in this movement, the federal government is reluctant to label such groups and individuals as terrorists. Instead, the violence is condemned, but always with the qualification that these are "difficult issues."
What's so difficult? What makes this kind of terrorism different from the terrorism somethink we can't talk about enough? When discussing international terrorism or "Islamic" terrorism, there is no equivocation. There is no acknowledgment of the "difficulty" of the issue. There is no consideration for the different "sides" and "feelings" in this "debate." You want to affect policy by killing and terrorizing people? You're a terrorist.
But if you want to affect abortion policy by killing and terrorizing people? Well, then, the most blatant acts of violence are to be condemned, of course, but always with the caveat that it's complicated.
Every law that is passed, every restriction imposed, every "roadblock" further endangers women’s lives and forces them to seek illegal, unsafe, life-threatening methods of controlling their reproduction. These laws are not merely hypothetical, and neither are the consequences. These laws -- laws that their proponents always claim are intended to preserve "life" -- instead lead to death. To Rosie Jimenez. To Becky Bell. To Spring Adams. To others.
What they do is terrorism. They bully, they berate, they taunt, they lie, they threaten -- all for the purpose of terrorizing women. Not all of them kill doctors. But that’s not the point. If there are no more clinics, there will be dead women. If there are no more doctors, there will be dead women. If there is no Roe v. Wade, there will be dead women.
Make no mistake: this is a war. There is no middle. There can be no compromise. The "compromises" only lead to more deaths. And those who fight on the side of the extremists -- who give money to their organizations, who vote for their laws, who use their language and tools of terror -- all have blood on their hands.