For Immediate Release; July 30, 2020
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National Abortion Federation Releases 2019 Violence & Disruption Statistics:
Escalation of invasions, picketing, trespassing, obstruction, and online hate speech by anti-abortion individuals
Today, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released its 2019 statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. The statistics show a disturbing escalation of intimidation tactics, clinics invasions, and other activities aimed at disrupting services, harassing providers, and blocking women’s access to abortion care.
Sadly, we expect this escalation will continue as the election gets closer. In an unclassified report in January, the FBI predicted violent threats and criminal activity against abortion providers will only continue to increase: “In the midst of a rise in legislative changes to reproductive healthcare services in several states, and reported increases in obstruction, intimidation, and threats of violence in the last year, the FBI anticipates violent threats and FACE Act violations likely will remain elevated through the next 12 to 24 months in the midst of continuous debates during the 2020 election cycle.”
Statement from The Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President and CEO, National Abortion Federation:
It is no surprise given the political climate and the increase in hate incidents throughout the country that we saw an escalation of actions that are meant to disrupt, intimidate, and harass abortion providers and their patients. And unfortunately, things aren’t looking much better in 2020.
So far this year, we have seen anti-abortion individuals and groups exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try to advance their agenda of blocking women’s access to abortion care. At a time when many of us are complying with public health guidance and practicing social distancing to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our families and communities safe, it’s alarming that anti-abortion protesters have continued to gather outside clinics without masks and approach and yell at patients as they enter health care facilities. For a movement that purports to care about “life”, these individuals show no regard for the lives or health of patients seeking medical care, the health care professionals at those clinics, or even their own families and communities.
Abortion providers are providing essential health care and they deserve to do their jobs without this kind of harassment any day, but especially during this public health crisis.
- Clinic invasions more than doubled, with 19 incidences reported in 2019, up from 8 in 2018.
- Abortion providers reported an increase in death threats and threats of harm, rising from 57 in 2018 to 92 in 2019.
- NAF identified more than 1,507 incidents of trespassing—the most since NAF’s tabulation of trespassing first began in 1999 and beating the previous record set in 2018 with 1,135.
- We saw an 125% increase in hate mail/harassing calls with members reporting 3,123 targeted incidents, rising from 1,388 in 2018.
- Incidents of obstruction of health care facilities continued to increase from 3,038 in 2018 to 3,387 in 2019, which is the highest number since NAF began tracking it in its own category in 2012.
- The reported number of picketing incidents continued to increase in 2019, with 123,228 incidents reported—which far exceeds any other year since we began tracking these statistics in 1977 and beat the previous record set in 2018.
NAF has been compiling statistics on incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers for more than 40 years. Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 189 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at abortion providers.
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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. NAF unites, represents, serves, and supports abortion providers in delivering patient-centered, evidence-based care.