An escalation in hate speech, intimidation, and obstruction as well as a decrease in extreme violence

Today, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released 2016 statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. While there was a decrease in extreme violence—with no murders or attempted murders—the statistics show an increase in a wide range of intimidation tactics meant to disrupt the provision of health care at facilities.

There was also a continued escalation in hate speech and internet harassment, which intensified following the election in November. Since the election, negative commentary about abortion care and abortion providers was more than triple the pre-election monthly average.

“We know hostile rhetoric can incite some to take the law into their own hands by threatening abortion providers and committing acts of violence,” said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. “Given the political climate and the increase in hate incidents throughout the country, it is more important than ever that law enforcement appropriately responds to anti-abortion criminal activity.”

NAF has been compiling statistics on incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers for 40 years. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 186 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at abortion providers.
Notable statistics from 2016:

  • NAF identified more than 42,500 incidents of hate speech in 2016.
  • Incidents of obstructed access to health care facilities more than doubled in 2016.
  • The reported number of picketing incidents continued to increase in 2016, with 61,562 incidents reported—which far exceeds any other year since we began tracking these statistics in 1977.

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The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.

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