National Abortion Federation Releases 2020 Violence & Disruption Statistics
For Immediate Release: December 16, 2021
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National Abortion Federation Releases 2020 Violence & Disruption Statistics:
Increase in vandalism, assault and battery, death threats/threats of harm, stalking, and hoax devices/suspicious packages from 2019.
Today, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released its 2020 statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. The statistics show an increase in intimidation tactics, vandalism, and other activities aimed at disrupting services, harassing providers, and blocking patients’ access to abortion care.
Statement from Melissa Fowler, Chief Program Officer, National Abortion Federation:
It is no surprise given the political climate and the increase in hate incidents throughout the country in 2020 that we saw an escalation of actions meant to disrupt, intimidate, and harass abortion providers and their patients.
These activities continued despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when many of us were 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 used this time to target and threaten abortion providers. Throughout 2020, anti-abortion protesters defied stay-at-home orders and gathered outside clinics without masks where they approached and yelled at patients as they entered health care facilities.
Abortion is essential health care and abortion providers deserve to do their jobs without this kind of harassment any day, but especially during a public health crisis. Harassment has no place in health care and people should be able to access the essential abortion care they need without interference, intimidation, or threats.
Unfortunately, in 2021, our members continue to report an escalation in aggressive anti-abortion activity. Members report an increase in harassment and intimidation outside of clinics by people emboldened by the Texas abortion ban and the recent Supreme Court activity concerning abortion cases. The people who threaten clinic workers and harass individuals seeking abortion care are often the same people who participate in other violent and extremist activities that are rooted in racism, white supremacy, and misogyny, and are deeply harmful.
- Abortion providers reported an increase in death threats and threats of harm, rising from 92 in 2019 to 200 in 2020.
- We saw a 125% increase in reports of assault and battery outside clinics with members reporting 54 incidents, rising from 24 in 2019.
- Internet harassment and hate mail and harassing phone calls rose once again this year. Providers reported 3,413 targeted incidents of hate mail and harassing phone calls, rising from 3,123 in 2019.
- There was a slight decrease in the reported number of picketing incidents in 2019, which is likely due to a decrease in anti-abortion protester activity in some locations at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers still reported 115,517 incidents in 2020—which far exceeds any other year since we began tracking these statistics in 1977 except for 2019 when there were 123,228 incidents reported. Picketing is also an area where we expect there was underreporting in our 2020 data.
- NAF members reported an escalation in aggressive behavior from protesters during 2020 so although there was a slight decrease in picketing, the activities were often more intense and disruptive.
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, 194 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activities directed at abortion providers.
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