The headlines of the past three years have been dominated by stories of anti-choice legislation, abortion protester shenanigans, and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. That being said, however, the National Abortion Federation says that clinic violence has actually decreased in the past year.
One explanation for the decrease in clinic violence is that protesters are starting to get a clue that their actions have consequences. The Obama administration has actually been taking a much tougher stance against abortion clinic protesters by enforcing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (aka “FACE Act“). NPR reports that the Justice Department has filed eight cases against abortion protesters under the FACE Act, which is a stark comparison to only one case being filed under the Bush administration.
But Sharon Levin, a vice president at the National Abortion Federation, says there are still some signs of trouble, including two incidents this summer involving Molotov cocktails and the arrest of a man who told police he wanted to shoot two abortion doctors in Wisconsin.
Levin attributes the relatively low level of extreme violence to the Justice Department’s more aggressive enforcement of the FACE Act.
“One of the dangers we have seen is that the people who commit the major violent acts often started with minor violent acts,” Levin says, “and they were never arrested, so their activities escalated.”
I tend to agree with Sharon Levin – anti-choice protesters need to know that breaking the law has consequences. If we wait until someone brings a gun to a clinic, we’ve waited too long. People who block the parking lot entrance, or who attempt to prevent patients from going inside an abortion clinic need to have consequences. We might not be able to stop abortion protesters from shouting at patients – they do have a First Amendment right to say whatever they want. But you do have to obey the law.
My opinion does have a caveat. I don’t trust the cops. I have a very negative view of the “justice system.” However, from my experience as a former clinic escort, I think that my negative attitude towards calling the police on someone is far outweighed by anti-choice protesters being straight up assholes when they try to block the clinic entrance.
What’s your take on the Justice Department’s stance? Do you think eight lawsuits is enough? Or do we need to see even more abortion protesters being arrested? If you’re a clinic escort, what has your experience been like? I’d love to get your take on the story.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.