May 11, 2023 - Health

Report: "Sharp increase" in crimes against abortion clinics post-Roe

Change in select crimes against abortion providers, 2021-2022
Data: National Abortion Federation’s 2022 Violence & Disruption Report; Note: 80% of member clinics reported data. Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was followed by a "sharp increase" in violence directed against abortion providers and patients, according to a new report from the National Abortion Federation.

Zoom in: The report found that states that protect abortion access saw a "disproportionate" increase, including a ninefold increase in reported cases of stalking, a doubling of burglaries and a 29% increase in assaults and batteries from 2021 to 2022.

  • Bomb threats also increased in these states by 133% and obstruction — defined as an act causing delay or attempting to delay the conduct of a business or preventing people from accessing a business — rose more than fivefold.

Details: The report found the following changes nationwide from 2021 to 2022, based on reports submitted by the Federation's nearly 500 member facilities:

  • A 231% increase in burglaries.
  • A 229% increase in stalking.
  • A 100% increase in arson.
  • A 25% increase in invasions, in which perpetrators managed to get inside a clinic in an effort to "cause disruptions" and "delay patient care."
  • A 20% increase in death threats and other threats of harm.

The report says there was a decrease in other incidents, such as trespassing, but the authors said that it is "likely attributed to clinic closures."

  • In the first 100 days since the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling last June, more than 80% of abortion clinics in states with bans either shut down or stopped offering the procedure.

State of play: Prior to the Supreme Court decision, the Department of Homeland Security said that it was getting ready for a surge in political violence once the justices issued their opinion.

  • Since the decision was issued, the Justice Department has prosecuted multiple people in cases of violence and other conducts against reproductive health care providers.
  • In January, the FBI said that it was investigating a series of attacks against "reproductive health service facilities," although these include anti-abortion centers, commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers.

What they're saying: The fall of Roe and the "cascade of abortion bans that followed" has "emboldened" people to go after abortion providers and patients, said Melissa Fowler, the National Abortion Federation's chief program officer.

  • "Anti-abortion extremists have also shifted their attention to protective states after dozens of clinics in ban states were forced to close, which has led to alarming levels of disruption for many of these clinics," said Michelle Davidson, the Federation's security director.

Zoom out: The National Abortion Federation said that since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 42 bombings, 200 arsons, 531 assaults, 492 clinic invasions, 375 burglaries and "thousands of other incidents of criminal activities directed at patients, providers, and volunteers," per a press release.

Read the full report:

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