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Report: Threats against abortion providers have spiked, especially in states like Oregon, Washington

A woman waits for her appointment to receive an abortion at a Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida.
AFP via Getty Images
A woman waits for her appointment to receive an abortion at a Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Threats and acts of violence against abortion providers increased dramatically in 2022, according to data collected each year by the National Abortion Federation, a professional association.

States that continue to offer legal abortions, like Oregon and Washington, had the biggest increases in violence directed at providers and disruptions meant to stop abortions from happening, according to the federation.

“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,” said Melissa Fowler, chief program officer at the National Abortion Federation, in a statement on May 11.

Reports of stalking in states where abortion is legal went up from 8 in 2021 to 81 in 2022. A medical director in the Pacific Northwest, identified only as Dr. B for his safety,told the federation that he had received the most serious death threat of his career two days after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed for states to ban abortion. He also reported being followed from work.

More common incidents include hate mail or calls and blocking the entryways to abortion clinics. Nationally, there were 287 reported incidents of protestors obstructing access to abortion services in 2022, up from 45 in 2021. None of those incidents were reported in Oregon or Washington. But providers in those two states reported a total of 1,687 incidents of picketing outside their clinics.

In the days immediately following the leaked Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a group calling itself Jane’s Revenge called for violence against anti-abortion institutions. Several incidents of vandalism and attempted arson were recorded in the spring and early summer of 2022. The number of such attacks does not appear to compare with the volume of incidents directed at abortion providers and recorded by the National Abortion Federation.

The federation has been tracking incidents of violence and disruption since 1977. In that time it has documented 11 murders, 42 bombings, 200 arsons and 531 assaults among other, less violent crimes.

This story was originally published by Lillian Mongeau Hughes of OPB.

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