/Report catalogues soaring incidents of trespassing, disruption, and intimidation at abortion clinics

Report catalogues soaring incidents of trespassing, disruption, and intimidation at abortion clinics

Wichita physician George Tiller makes notes while listening to the testimony of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline in Sedgwick County, Kan., District Court in Wichita, Kan. on Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. Tiller is expected to be in court most of the week for a hearing in a case that accuses him of violating a 1998 state law requiring that a second, independent Kansas physician sign off on most late-term abortions. Tiller's attorneys subpoenaed Kline, saying he was overzealous in his investigation of Tiller. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Mike Hutmacher)

Dr. George Tiller at a hearing in 2008, a year before he was assassinated at his church by a forced-birther zealot who viewed the murder as divinely ordained because Tiller was one of the few American physicians performing late-term abortions.

A new report from the National Abortion Federation shows a steep rise in various incidents at U.S. abortion clinics. In 2018, trespassing had risen to its highest annual level since the federation started gathering information on these incidents in 1999.

NAF has been keeping track of incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers for more than four decades. Since 1977, by its count, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 188 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at abortion providers.

In its latest annual tally released this week, instances of trespassing at clinics hit 1,135, a 78% rise from 2017 to 2018. There were 125 vandalism incidents, the highest number since 1990. In 2017, there were 1,704 instances of obstruction of a clinic; in 2018, NAF recorded 3,038 incidents. There were also 57 threats of death or harm at clinics last year, including one in which a forced-birther with a bullhorn yelled to staff entering a clinic, “I have a bullet with your name on it.”

That may only be bullyboy tactics, but it and others like it cannot be taken as idle threats.

Next Friday, May 31, marks the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. He was the medical director of Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas, one of only three clinics across the nation at the time that provided late-term abortions. The assassin shot him in the head during a church service. It wasn’t the first time somebody had tried to murder him. In 1993, he had been shot in both arms. In 1986, his clinic was firebombed. Violence has been a part of the forced-birther movement from early on.