Jun 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DHS memo: Violent extremism "likely" in wake of Roe v. Wade decision

Thousands of abortion-rights activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case

Abortion-rights activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security's intelligence arm said in a memo on Friday that domestic violent extremism is "likely" in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: Violence could take place in multiple locations for weeks as states make changes to their abortion laws, according to the memo, which was obtained by Axios.

Details: Government officials — including Supreme Court justices — are likely those most at risk, the memo said. It cites recent attacks by the abortion-rights group known as Jane's Revenge as well as an alleged plot to kill U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • The memo also lists reproductive health care facilities and faith-based organizations as potential targets for acts of violent extremism.
  • The intelligence agency says it is aware of arson attacks by both anti-abortion rights and abortion-rights activists targeting pregnancy resource centers and health care facilities as well as "at least 11 incidents of vandalism threatening violence targeting religious facilities perceived as being opposed to abortion."
  • The document was said to be shared with state and local Homeland Security personnel, law enforcement, first responders and private sector partners. The assessment was based on a rise in violence following the earlier leak of a draft Supreme Court decision.

The big picture: Abortion-related attacks have already been on the rise, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • Assaults directed at abortion clinic staff and patients increased 128% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to a recent report.

What they're saying: "Americans’ freedom of speech and right to peacefully protest are fundamental constitutional rights. Those rights do not extend to violence and other illegal activity," a DHS spokesperson told Axios.

  • "DHS will continue working with our partners across every level of government to share timely information and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe.”

Go deeper: Here's what happens now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade

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