LGBTQ

Undercover Audio Exposes Anti-Abortion Activists’ Alarming Scare Tactics

Anti-choice protesters are taking down license plates and tracking doctors and patients on spreadsheets.

Photo Credit: Allen Graham - PDImages / Shutterstock.com

New undercover audio (posted below) reveals just how far anti-abortion activists’ goals are from the peaceful “sidewalk counselors” they claim to be. The audio, taken from a training session titled “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed,” exposes the disturbing strategies anti-abortion activists use in order to harass patients into not having the procedure.

Caught on tape, Karen Garnett, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, told activists that they maintain a presence “in front of every abortion facility during all hours that abortions are being performed” in order to track women and doctors. Garnett continued: “You track license plates…the license plates coming into any abortion facility. We have a very sophisticated spreadsheet.”

Garnett goes on to encourage the activists to track “license plates, car make, model, description of the person” in order to monitor if the patients come back to the clinic to get the procedure. She praises the fact that their intimidating presence outside of clinics deters many women from getting an abortion. 

“The number of canceled appointments, no-shows, just because they don’t want to drive in because they see our presence there. That’s one impact,” she told the audience.

Other speakers caught on tape continued to praise their work in deterring women from controlling their own bodies. Eileen Romano of 40 Days for Life applauds her group’s efforts in pressuring 66 clinic workers to quit. She was glad their efforts in closing dozens of Texas clinics has eliminated some women’s—“the poorer ones”— ability to get the procedure because they “didn’t have transportation to get [to their nearest clinic].”

Patients aren't the only ones facing harassment. Another speaker, Abby Johnson of Live Action, said her group looked up appraisal district records to find the new location of where an abortion doctor plans to work. She said abortion doctors “feel like they are on the run, and that’s how we want to keep it.”

Since 1993, four doctors, two clinic employees, one clinic escort and one security guard have been killed by anti-abortion violence. Since 1991, there have been 17 attempted murders.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that sidewalk buffer zones outside abortion clinics were unconstitutional. This newly released undercover audio adds to the mounting evidence that anti-abortion protests outside of clinics have more to do with harassment than free speech.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement about the audio:

The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are those outside abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers. With fewer clinics for these stalking protestors to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated. Texas women are now not only forced to travel hundreds of miles to even access a safe and legal Texas clinic, but once they reach a clinic they must also confront the very real threat posed by these anti-abortion activists. The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives.

Listen to the full audio below: 

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
[x]
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Activism
Drugs
Economy
Education
Environment
Food
Media
World