Abortion and Violence

Radical anti-abortionists' violence, has both alarmed the abortion rights movement and aroused the ire of mainstream anti-abortion organisations.
  • Most anti-abortion U.S. groups practice what is called "creative tension". They use deliberate shock tactics, but take care to be non-violent and act within the law.
  • The Army of God believe abortion is "war on unborn babies" and consider "babykillers" to be legitimate targets.
  • The Army of God manual details how to how to disrupt abortion clinics: superglue in locks, bomb-making, butyric acid and shooting doctors and staff.
  • NZ has no history of extremism and violence.
  • There are also cases of pro-abortion violence, the most common of which is where women are forced to have an abortion, beaten to cause a miscarriage or even killed.
Radical anti-abortion groups in the United States consider they are at war and that the killing of abortionists, and violent acts directed at abortion clinics are valid in order to save babies lives. Less well known is the incidence of pro-abortion violence.

Most of the individual extremists have been convicted and are serving lengthy prison sentences.

The anti-abortion violence basically comes from a sense of powerlessness and frustration at the inability to prevent nearly a million babies being aborted every year in the USA.

The abortion-rights movement was perceived to have achieved total victory after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v Wade, struck down all state restrictions on abortion.

Federal courts, law enforcement agencies, the American Medical Association, and other medical and legal bodies supported the proliferation of abortion clinics across the USA.

The mainstream anti-abortion groups organised non-violent mass pickets outside clinics during Operation Rescue in the mid-1980s. The anti-racketeering RICO law was employed to financially cripple the protest leaders. In February 1993, Congress looked set to pass the FACE bill, which threatened severe penalties for peaceful protest outside abortion clinics.

Radical anti-abortionists began to debate the idea of "justifiable homicide", 
i.e. killing abortionists to prevent the further killing of babies.
Radical anti-abortionists began to debate the idea of "justifiable homicide", i.e. killing abortionists to prevent the further killing of babies.

The radical anti-abortionists' violence alarmed both the abortion rights movement and aroused the ire of mainstream anti-abortion organisations. They denounced the violence and killings in the strongest terms, fully aware that the actions of these individuals were morally wrong, counter-productive, a public relations disaster.

Qualification
"Extremism" is an emotionally loaded word. Anti-abortion U.S. groups like LifeDynamics, Missionaries to the Preborn, and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, practice what civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, called "creative tension".

They employ controversial tactics such as large coloured posters of aborted foetuses, to directly confront the American public with their message. These posters are sometimes on specially adapted trucks cruising the streets, or on banners towed by light planes. They use deliberate shock tactics, but take care to be non-violent and act within the law.

The Army of God

The Army of God's current website honours and applauds the killing of abortion providers and staff.
The Army of God's website honours and applauds the killing of abortion providers and staff. Widely accepted by investigators and law enforcement officials, as not an organisation, but made up of various individuals who share common ideas and enemies.

The Army of God's shadowy origins go back to the early 1980s, with isolated attacks to damage abortion clinics and threatening letters to abortion doctors. Police recorded the letters "AOG" on the walls of clinics, but discounted the existence of an organised violent movement until three men kidnapped an abortion doctor and his wife in Illinois.

The hostages were released, but one of the kidnappers called the FBI and claimed to be from the "Army of God".

In the late 1980's, new recruits surfaced and formed alliances. They were convicted felons in Atlanta's prisons and under U.S. law, unable to vote. Whether frustration at being barred from the democratic basis could have been a factor, they shared an understanding that abortion was war on unborn babies, and the therefore the "babykillers" were legitimate targets.

Also, they believed that God's "law" required and justified their actions as "soldiers".

The Army of God manual gave detailed 
instructions on how to disrupt abortion clinics: superglue in locks, bomb-making, butyric acid and shooting doctors and staff. 
A defining moment was the 1988 secret publication of the Army of God manual. Believed to have had several anonymous authors, this 125-page book provided ideological justification for direct violence, combined with detailed instructions on how to disrupt abortion clinics: superglue in locks, bomb-making, butyric acid and shooting doctors and staff.

Key figures influenced by the Army of God
Michael Griffin, on March 10th, 1993, shot and killed abortionist Dr David Gunn, outside his Pensacola clinic. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon, carried out arson attacks against clinics and on August 19, 1993, staked out late-term abortionist Dr George Tiller in Wichita, shot him in both arms and fled. Dr Tiller was back at work the next day and Shannon was sentenced to eleven years in prison.

Rev Paul Hill believed that by killing an abortionist he would save the lives of the babies on that day. Convinced that God approved, he killed abortionist Dr John Britton and armed escort, James Barrett, and waited for the police. Hill was executed by lethal injection on September 3rd, 2003. He died unrepentant and whilst in prison, wrote extensive accounts explaining his motivation.

James Kopp, on October 23, 1998, as a sniper, shot and killed late-term abortionist Dr Barnett Slepian in his kitchen in Buffalo. Kopp escaped and was later extradited from France. At his trial Kopp delivered a sophisticated and historically nuanced justification for his action, and claimed he shot to wound Slepian in the arm and prevent him from doing further harm. The judge said all the arguments couldn't justify using lethal violence, and sentenced him to life with a minimum of 25 years.

Eric Rudolph, in January 1998, bombed a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing an off-duty police officer and maiming a nurse. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Eric Rudolph, in January 1998, bombed a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing an off-duty police officer and maiming a nurse. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Other incidences that cannot be directly linked
  • November 8th, 1994: an unidentified sniper shot and wounded abortionist Dr Garson Romalis at his home in Vancouver, Canada.
  • December 30th, 1994: John Salvi shot and killed abortion clinic receptionists Lee Ann Nichols and Shannon Lowney, and injures five other people at two clinics in Massachusetts. He hanged himself in his cell on November 29, 1996.
  • November 10, 1995: An unidentified sniper wounded an abortionist at his home in Ontario, Canada.
  • November 11, 1995: An unidentified sniper wounded abortionist Jack Fainman at his home in Winnipeg.
A lessening of violence
Following the election of President George W. Bush in January 2001, the threat from the frustrated few radicals largely evaporated. His administration was seen as openly anti-abortion and supportive of overturning Roe v Wade and peaceful protests.

Eric Rudolph, in January 1998, bombed a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic, killing an off- duty police officer and maiming a nurse. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

May 31, 2009: Abortionist, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed as he was entering his church in Wichita, KS.
The killings of abortionists has been cited as one of the reasons why fewer doctors are choosing to join the ranks of abortion providers. This, however, does not explain why doctors in such countries as New Zealand for example, where there is no history of extremism and violence, are unwilling to perform abortions.

Pro-abortion violence
Falls into different categories:
  • For example, there are many documented cases in the U.S., of men murdering, or severely beating women who refuse to abort their baby. In some cases, these involve abortion doctors attacking their own wives or girlfriends, and men hiring hit men to carry out the murders.

    Abortionists and abortion-rights activists have attacked those who oppose them in hundreds of incidents. They have attacked anti-abortionists with guns, cars, acid, hypodermic syringes, and baseball bats. These and other attacks are documented at Abortion Violence.com.
  • Men who have escorted their partners for an abortion, are sometimes enraged at the presence of anti-abortion protesters and sidewalk counsellors. Altercations take place, which can spill over into physical assaults.
  • A relatively new phenomenon in the U.S., is attacks on pregnancy crisis centres. These are staffed by anti-abortion volunteers who offer counselling and advice on alternatives to abortion. Just as anti-abortion extremists (inspired by the Army of God guerrilla attack manual) vandalised abortion clinics, some pregnancy centres have been vandalised and received bomb threats by abortion-rights extremists.