The Domestic Terrorism of Congress and Women’s Health Clinics
April 1, 2010
Bricks thrown through campaign office windows. Phone messages threatening sniper attacks. White powder sent with threatening letters. As anyone who watches television or reads a newspaper knows, Congress has been met with an increasing amount of violence in the wake of health care reform’s passage last week. Shocked and riveted by this recent development, Congress and the national media have devoted nonstop attention to discussing the violence. Some attribute it to the incendiary words and actions of national political leaders, like Sarah Palin who recently featured online a map with rifle cross-hairs targeting politically vulnerable Democratic lawmakers. Others, like New York Times columnist Frank Rich, ascribe the violence to widespread fear of the American electorate’s changing face. The theories and discussion surrounding the violence are interesting, to say the least. But there’s another form of domestic terrorism in need of our national attention as well – anti-choice violence.
Women’s health clinics have consistently been met with intimidation and violence. Clinic patients are videotaped and photographed at the clinic. Their cars are approached or blocked. Clinics face bomb threats, vandalism, and break-ins. Health care providers are stalked, receive death threats, and face physical violence. Since1991 at least ten people have been murdered and 17 people wounded. Just last May, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was shot to death by anti-choice activist Scott Roeder, who was sentenced to life in prison today.
In response to this violence, women’s organizations have asked Congress to protect women and their health care providers. Congress, however, has not exactly met this legislation with open arms. In 1994, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance Act (FACE) to protect women from this violence. Little Congressional attention, however, has been paid to anti-choice violence since FACE’s enactments, despite persisting violence.[caption id="attachment_5706" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Antichoice activist Scott Roeder was sentenced to life imprisonment today for killing Dr. George Tiller."][/caption]
So while members of Congress are meeting with Capitol Police and FBI agents to plan for increasing their security details, perhaps this would be an appropriate time to also begin discussing the protection of women. Women seeking a procedure that is the law of the land! Because, unlike her Congressional compatriots, the terrified teen entering her nearby clinic does not have the Capitol Police escorting her and protecting her legal rights.
To send an email to President Obama asking him to protect women from anti-choice violence, visit FeministCampus.org. And check out the statistics on anti-choice violence from the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project.