Abortion Clinics See Triple-Digit Spikes in Stalking, Burglaries, Bomb Threats & Arson

A new report shows how anti-abortion violence has sharply increased post-Roe, as clinics have had to take on even more out-of-state patients.

Abortion Clinics See Triple-Digit Spikes in Stalking, Burglaries, Bomb Threats & Arson
Photo:Mykola Romanovskyy (Getty Images)

Nearly a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned, a new report by the National Abortion Federation published Thursday reveals how mass clinic closures due to abortion bans have impacted clinics in states where abortion remains legal. In particular, clinics in states where abortion rights are proactively protected—what the NAF calls “protective states”—now face the brunt of targeted anti-abortion violence.

The NAF has tracked anti-abortion harassment for five decades and has documented 11 murders, 42 bombings, 200 arsons, 531 assaults, 492 clinic invasions, 375 burglaries, and thousands of other criminal acts directed at patients, providers, and volunteers. Compared to 2021, the NAF found that, last year (the year Roe was overturned), there was a 229% increase in stalking, 231% increase in burglaries, and 100% increase in clinic arsons (from two cases in 2021 to four in 2022) at clinics across the country.

At clinics in protective states, NAF recorded a staggering 913% increase in stalking inflicted on patients, providers, and volunteers; a 538% increase in obstructions of clinics (from 45 in 2021 to 287 in 2022), and a jump in bomb threats (there were three in 2021 and seven in 2022). All these increases come as out-of-state patients are forced to seek abortion care in protective states.

Abortion bans aren’t just driving a surge in interstate abortion-related travel and an increasingly unmanageable surge in patients seeking care from remaining clinics. By shuttering clinics by the dozen, abortion bans are also making the dwindling numbers of clinics that are still open exponentially more vulnerable to harassment and violence. The availability of abortion pills and procurement of them via telehealth (without in-person clinic visits) are under legal threats, which could further expose abortion patients to ongoing harassment and violence surrounding clinics.

“The data is proof of what we have known to be true: anti-abortion extremists have been emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the cascade of abortion bans that followed,” Melissa Fowler, chief program officer of the National Abortion Federation, said in a statement shared with Jezebel. “As clinics closed in states with bans, extremists have simply shifted their focus to the states where abortion remains legal and protected, where our members have reported major increases in assaults, stalking, and burglaries.”

Still, law enforcement has remained fixated on a false equivalence of violence supposedly targeting both anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” (which exist to prey on and deceive pregnant people) and abortion clinics. Last fall, the FBI put out a memo about “a general intensification of violence across the issue” of abortion, and the agency has spent the last several months very publicly seeking information on alleged attacks on CPCs. On a local level, clinic workers and volunteers have also spoken out about police officers declining to help them; actively protecting or even joining anti-abortion protesters; and telling them to simply accept these violent threats as a part of the work they’ve chosen to do.

In contrast, pregnant people and abortion providers are more likely to face investigation and criminalization from law enforcement. Several active abortion bans threaten abortion providers with prison time, while bills under consideration in some state legislatures threaten them with the death penalty. Pregnant people have frequently faced surveillance and arrest for their pregnancy outcomes.

NAF’s report highlights who is actually at risk of being victimized by abortion-related crimes, and the heightened vulnerability that clinics face today as they absorb both more out-of-state patients—and become the target of more out-of-state protesters.

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