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Human Rights

Threats to Abortion Clinics Are on the Rise Following the Election

Advocates are facing "the fight of their lives."

Photo Credit: PBS NewsHour / Flickr Creative Commons

Since the election of Donald Trump, state legislators in Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, and others have been busy rolling out all kinds of anti-abortion bills, from bans on abortion at six weeks to fetal burial requirements. And conservative lawmakers aren’t the only ones who have been emboldened by the election of a fiercely anti-choice administration: abortion clinics are reporting more threats since Trump’s election, while congressional Republicans continue to demand an expensive, taxpayer-funded witch hunt into the “criminal behavior” of Planned Parenthood. Because, sure, women’s clinics offering breast exams, pap smears, STD testing, and other crucial health services are the real criminals, as opposed to the protesters attacking them.

According to data from the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which has been monitoring references to abortion in social media and online, online threats against abortion providers jumped 46 percent just in the 30 days after the election. Online threats against abortion providers in the month of November reached more than triple the yearly average, NAF president Vicki Saporta told CNBC. It’s worth noting that between 2010 and 2015 (the year misleading footage about Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donations surfaced), threats against abortion clinics doubled, according to Rewire News.

And these online threats that decry abortion as a “business/industry” of murdering babies manifest in dangerous real-life consequences. CNBC reports that one clinic in Kentucky had to change its windows after protesters shattered them with rocks following the election. Another clinic in North Carolina faced a protest of more than 2,500 anti-choice demonstrators bearing Trump/Pence signs, as well as signs declaring “We won, you lost,” which makes it pretty clear the outcome of the election is what motivated them.

Anti-choice attitudes have always been relatively pervasive in more conservative southern and midwestern states, but even in New York, clinics are reporting more harassment, and more aggressive harassment at that. Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, New York told CNBC this week that, although it was typical to have about two protesters handing out anti-abortion propaganda to women trying to enter prior to the election of Trump, now more than a dozen anti-choice protesters are on the scene every Saturday.

At debates, President-elect Trump misrepresented abortion as a procedure that involves ripping out babies the day before they’re due, despite the fact that second-trimester dilation and evacuation procedures often take place weeks before fetal viability, when legal abortion is still safe-guarded by Roe v. Wade. Vice President-elect Mike Pence never passes up an opportunity to represent fertilized eggs as human beings and is on the record prioritizing anti-choice organizations in his state of Indiana over the state’s poor families. House Speaker Paul Ryan has, on numerous occasions, vocalized his support for fetal personhood rights, aka another ploy to advance the dangerous “abortion is murder” narrative.

It’s 2016 and abortion providers are still in fear for their lives over the violence and intimidation they could be exposed to by extremist abortion opponents inspired by politicians’ rhetoric. After all, while the fatal shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic by a man who claimed to be a “warrior for the babies” was just one year ago, harassment and violent intimidation tactics have never been uncommon, according to data collected by NARAL Pro-Choice America. After the release of illegal and highly-edited footage of Planned Parenthood supposedly “selling baby parts” when it was actually seeking compensation for the donation of fetal tissue to science, NARAL reported a substantial rise in attacks on clinics.

While politicians inspired by renewed Republican dominance are attacking abortion rights through bogus state legislation, abortion opponents across the nation have also been emboldened and are threatening not the legal rights, but the safety of abortion providers and recipients more aggressively than ever before. In every sense of the word, it’s a dangerous time for the reproductive rights movement at the present, and if “pro-life” politicians really cared about protecting living human beings, they’d take more heed of their dangerously morbid rhetoric and tell anti-choice protesters to stay peaceful.

Kylie Cheung writes about news, politics, and pop culture for The Frisky. 

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