NAF provides numerous resources to abortion providers and facilities in order to keep staff and their patients safe, including staff preparedness trainings, facility and residential security assessments, and law enforcement assistance. NAF can also refer your facility to a variety of reputable companies that provide security-related services.

Violence and Disruption Statistics

The National Abortion Federation has been compiling statistics on incidents of violence and disruption against abortion providers since 1977. NAF collects and compiles this data from members and allied organizations to detect patterns in anti-abortion criminal activities and appropriately report these trends to law enforcement.

2019

2019 Violence and Disruption Statistics

2018

2018 Violence and Disruption Statistics

2017

2017 Violence and Disruption Statistics

2016

2016 Violence and Disruption Statistics

History of Violence

Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, there has been an organized campaign by anti-abortion extremists, which has resulted in escalating levels of violence against women’s health care providers. In their efforts to end abortion access nationwide, anti-abortion extremists have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to disobey the law and obstruct people’s access to reproductive health care. Anti-choice picketing and clinic blockades quickly led to the first clinic arson in 1976 and a series of bombings in 1978. In the 1990s, anti-abortion extremists found new tactics to impede access to abortion care by using butyric acid to vandalize clinics and anthrax threat letters to frighten clinic staff.

Murders

In the early 1990s, anti-abortion extremists concluded that murdering providers was the only way to stop abortion. The first provider was murdered in 1993. In total, there have been 11 murders and 26 attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence, including the most recent attack at a clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, in 2015. Some of the providers who were murdered were attacked in their own homes or churches.

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act

Protections for abortion providers currently exist at the federal level and, in some jurisdictions, the local level. In response to Dr. David Gunn’s murder in 1993, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which imposes federal penalties for using force, threat of force, or physical obstruction to block the provision of, or access to, abortion care. The FACE Act provides both criminal and civil penalties for those who break the law and has been particularly effective in reducing the incidence of clinic blockades since its enactment in 1994.

Buffer Zones

Buffer zones are an additional level of protection that can exist at the local level, limiting how close anti-abortion protesters are permitted to get to a facility. They are a proven way to balance safe access to reproductive health care facilities with the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion individuals to distribute literature or engage in conversations with permitting parties. Floating buffer zones, sometimes called bubble zones, create moving areas of protection around particular people (typically clinic staff and patients) and prohibit protesters from coming within a certain distance of the specified person. Buffer zones can be passed at the local or state/provincial level and are an important additional protection against anti-abortion harassment and physical assault of patients and providers.

DateState/ProvinceCase Status
11/2015ColoradoOfficer Garrett Swasey, Jennifer Markovsky, and Ke'Arre Stewart were shot and killed when an attacker entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Robert Lewis Dear has been charged with murder and attempted murder and is in custody.
5/2009KansasDr. George Tiller was shot and killed in his church in Wichita, Kansas. Anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder confessed to the murder and was found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 50 years.
7/2000VancouverDr. Garson Romalis was stabbed outside of a Vancouver clinic by an unknown assailant. No arrests were made.
10/1998New YorkDr. Barnett Slepian was shot and killed in his home in Amherst, New York. James Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder in state court and received the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. He was also convicted and sentenced to life on federal charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
1/1998AlabamaOfficer Robert Sanderson was killed during a clinic bombing in Birmingham, AL. Emily Lyons, a nurse at the clinic was severely injured in the blast. Eric Robert Rudolph pled guilty and is serving a life sentence for the bombings at Olympic Park, a gay bar, and two abortion clinics including the Birmingham clinic.
11/1997ManitobaDr. Jack Fainman was shot and injured in his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. James Kopp was suspected in the shooting but not charged.
10/1997New YorkAn unnamed physician was shot at in his home in Rochester, New York. James Kopp was suspected in the shooting but never charged.
12/1996LouisianaDr. Calvin Jackson was stabbed 15 times at a New Orleans, Louisiana clinic. Donald Cooper was arrested and convicted of attempted second-degree murder.
11/1995OntarioDr. Hugh Short was shot and injured in his home in Ancaster, Ontario. James Kopp was charged with attempted murder in the shooting, but those charges were later dropped.
12/1994MassachusettsShannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols were shot and killed by John Salvi at two clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five others were injured in the attacks. Salvi was sentenced to two life terms but committed suicide in prison in November 1996.
11/1994VancouverDr. Garson Romalis was shot and seriously wounded in his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. James Kopp was suspected in the shooting.
7/1994FloridaDr. John Bayard Britton and his escort, James H. Barrett were shot and killed in front of a clinic in Pensacola, Florida, by Paul J. Hill. June Barrett was also shot and injured in the incident. Hill was executed by lethal injection on September 3, 2003.
3/1994CaliforniaA doctor was shot three times by two unidentified assailants in Los Angeles, CA. No arrests were made.
8/1993KansasDr. George Tiller was shot and injured by Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon at his clinic in Wichita, Kansas. Shannon was sentenced to 11 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder. She was sentenced to another 20 years for additional anti-abortion related crimes in 1992 and was released to a halfway house in November 2018.
3/1993FloridaDr. David Gunn was shot to death by Michael Griffin in Pensacola, Florida. Griffin is serving a life sentence for murder.
12/1991MissouriA clinic staff member and a building landlord were shot at a clinic in Springfield, Missouri, leaving one victim paralyzed. No arrests were made.

DateState/ProvinceTypeEst. DamageCase Status
2/2019MissouriARSONWesley Brian Kaster pleaded guilty to one count of maliciously using explosive materials to damage a building owned by an organization that receives federal financial assistance, and one count of violating the FACE Act. Kaster was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of five years.
7/2018CaliforniaARSONVideo surveillance showed an individual that has yet to be identified.
11/2017CaliforniaARSONOpen
5/2016CaliforniaARSONPolice investigated the incident as an arson. No arrests were made.
10/2015CaliforniaARSONOpen
9/2015WashingtonARSONOpen
8/2015LouisianaARSONOpen
7/2015IllinoisARSONOpen
11/2014AlabamaARSONOpen
5/2012GeorgiaARSONOpen
5/2012GeorgiaARSONOpen
5/2012MissouriARSONJedediah Stout pleaded guilty to attempted arson and violating the FACE Act. He was sentenced to 63 months imprisonment for these and other crimes.
4/2012WisconsinARSONFrancis Grady was sentenced to 11 years for arson of a Planned Parenthood facility in Grand Chute, WI.
1/2012FloridaARSONBobby Joe Rogers was sentenced to 10 years for arson and damaging a reproductive health facility.
8/2011MichiganBOMBINGOpen
7/2011TexasARSONOpen
12/2007New MexicoARSONChad Altman and Sergio Baca pled guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. Altman was sentenced to 40-months incarceration, 3 years supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $796,531.92. Baca was sentenced to 46-months incarceration, 3 years supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $796,531.92.
5/2007VirginiaARSONRemains open
7/2005FloridaARSONRemains open
1/2005WashingtonARSON$500,000 Remains open
7/2004FloridaARSONRemain open
1/2004FloridaARSONRemains open
9/2003IndianaARSON$2,000 Remains open
5/2003FloridaARSONRemains open
1/2003IllinoisARSONRemains open
6/2002TexasARSONRemains open
6/2001WashingtonBOMB$6,000 Remains open
6/2001WashingtonARSONRemains open
4/2001KentuckyARSONRemains open
5/2000New HampshireARSON$20,000 Remains open
4/2000FloridaARSON$2-3,000Remains open
8/1999New HampshireARSONApprox. $20,000Remains open
7/1999CaliforniaARSONMinimal damage to the clinic. Approx $100,000 damage to the building housing the clinic.Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams pled guilty and were sentenced to 21-30 years in jail for this fire and three synagogue arsons.
5/1999New MexicoARSON$5,000 Ricky Lee McDonald pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in jail.
3/1999South DakotaARSONMinimalMartin Uphoff was convicted of using explosives during a felony, and vandalism to a facility providing health care services (a FACE charge). Uphoff was sentenced to 60 months for the felony and 6 months for the FACE charge, to be served concurrently.
3/1999New MexicoARSON$3,000 Ricky Lee McDonald pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in jail.
3/1999WisconsinARSONMinimalPeter Quinn, 17, admitted to this arson. He is being charged in state court as an adult.He was sentenced as an adult to 5 years' imprisonment and 5 years' probation.
3/1999North CarolinaBOMBMinimalRemains open
3/1999WisconsinARSON$1,000 Peter Quinn, 17, admitted to this arson. He is being charged in state court as an adult.He was sentenced as an adult to 5 years' imprisonment and 5 years' probation.
9/1998North CarolinaARSON$17,000 Remains open
9/1998North CarolinaARSON$7,000 Remains open
9/1998North CarolinaARSON$200Remains open
3/1998CaliforniaARSON$5,000 Remains open
12/1997New YorkARSONMinimalRemains open
10/1997OregonARSON$5,000 Remains open
8/1997AlabamaARSON$250,000 Remains open
5/1997OregonARSON$400,000 Remains open
5/1997WashingtonARSON$1,500 Remains open
3/1997MontanaBOMB$2,000 John Yankowski apprehended at clinic; convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
3/1997CaliforniaBOMB$1,000 Container of flammable liquid thrown through the window.
3/1997CaliforniaARSONUnknownPeter Howard, a local activist, put 13 gas cans and 3 propane tanks in his truck and drove it thru the clinic door. He was caught on the scene, pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 yrs in prison and fined $16, 320.87 for damages and restitution.
3/1997IowaBOMBUnknownRemains open
3/1997North CarolinaBOMB$50,000 Remains open
2/1997VirginiaARSON$25,000 James Anthony Mitchell of VA pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ten years in jail in September 1997.
1/1997GeorgiaBOMB$90,000+2 explosions. Eric Robert Rudolph is serving a life sentence for the bombings at Olympic Park, a gay bar, and two abortion clinics including the Georgia clinic.
1/1997OklahomaARSON$7,000 A juvenile was convicted in this and other arsons and bombings. Name sealed due to age.
1/1997OklahomaBOMB$2,500 A juvenile was convicted in this and other arsons and bombings. Name sealed due to age.
11/1996MissouriARSON$75,000 A juvenile was convicted in this and other arsons and bombings. Name sealed due to age.
9/1996OklahomaBOMB$1,000 A juvenile was convicted in this and other arsons and bombings. Name sealed due to age.
7/1996WashingtonBOMB$50,000 Brian Rattigan, Verne Jay Merrell, Charles Barbee and Robert Berry were convicted of conspiring in the bombing of the clinic and a bank robbery.
7/1996IdahoARSON$50,000 Remains open
5/1996IdahoARSON$400Remains open
11/1995FloridaARSON$100Remains open
11/1995FloridaARSON$400Remains open
9/1995WyomingARSON$50,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
8/1995FloridaARSON$100,000 Remains open
8/1995FloridaARSON$40,000 Remains open
8/1995OregonARSON$200Remains open
5/1995OhioBOMBMinimalRemains open
3/1995VirginiaARSONunder $5,000Jennifer Spearle and Ryan Clark Martin were convicted.
2/1995CaliforniaARSON$500Remains open
2/1995CaliforniaARSON$50,000 Remains open
2/1995New MexicoARSON$5,000 Ricky Lee McDonald arrested by Services ATF 2/24/95 and convicted.
2/1995VirginiaARSON$500Remains open
2/1995CaliforniaARSON$1,000 Remains open
1/1995PennsylvaniaARSONunknownRemains open
1/1995New MexicoARSONMinimalRicky Lee McDonald arrested by ATF 2/24/95 and convicted.
12/1994KansasARSON$3,000 Remains open
12/1994VirginiaARSON$400Jennifer Spearle and Ryan Clark Martin were convicted.
12/1994South DakotaARSON$1,000 Remains open
11/1994CaliforniaBOMBMinimalRemains open
10/1994CaliforniaARSON$500Remains open
10/1994MontanaARSON$100,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
10/1994CaliforniaARSON$35,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
10/1994CaliforniaARSON$3,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
8/1994MinnesotaARSON$373,000 Remains open
8/1994OhioARSON$100Remains open
7/1994VirginiaARSON$10,000 Remains open
12/1993New YorkARSON$150Janet Smith was arrested for throwing two molotov cocktails.
11/1993PennsylvaniaARSON$500Remains open
10/1993TexasARSON$20,000 On 3/14/94, Joshua Graff pled guilty & was sentenced to 39 months in prison.
9/1993PennsylvaniaARSON$130,000 Remains open
9/1993IllinoisARSON$7,500 Remains open
9/1993CaliforniaARSON$1.4 millionRemains open
9/1993CaliforniaBOMB$1,000 Remains open
8/1993FloridaARSON$500,000 Remains open
5/1993IdahoARSON$100,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
5/1993OregonARSON$5,000 Remains open
3/1993MontanaARSON$100,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
2/1993FloridaARSON$70,000 Remains open
2/1993TexasARSON$625,000 Remains open
12/1992CaliforniaARSON$50,000 Remains open
11/1992CaliforniaARSON$175,000 Rachelle Shannon pled guilty on 6/7/95 to 6 arson incidents and 2 acid incidents. Shannon was convicted of attempted murder of Dr. Tiller of Wichita, KS.
11/1992IllinoisARSON$2,500 Remains open
9/1992New MexicoARSON$500Remains open
9/1992VirginiaARSON$25,000 Remains open
9/1992OregonARSON$1,000+Rachelle Shannon pled guilty on 6/7/95 to 6 arson incidents and 2 acid incidents. Shannon was convicted of attempted murder of Dr. Tiller of Wichita, KS.
9/1992NevadaARSON$600Michael Andrew Fix was arrested on 9/28/92 by NV State Police. He was convicted in state court and sentenced to 2 years in prison.
9/1992NevadaARSON$5,000 Michael Andrew Fix was arrested on 9/28/92 by NV State Police. He was convicted in state court and sentenced to 2 years in prison
8/1992NevadaARSONMinimalMichael Andrew Fix was arrested on 9/28/92 by NV State Police. He was convicted in state court and sentenced to 2 years in prison.
8/1992OregonARSON$2,500 Rachelle Shannon pled guilty on 6/7/95 to 6 arson incidents and 2 acid incidents. Shannon was convicted of attempted murder of Dr. Tiller of Wichita, KS.
8/1992CaliforniaARSON$5,000 Rachelle Shannon pled guilty on 6/7/95 to 6 arson incidents and 2 acid incidents. Shannon was convicted of attempted murder of Dr. Tiller of Wichita, KS.
7/1992CaliforniaARSON$9,000 Remains open
6/1992CaliforniaARSON$70,000 In October 1997, Richard Thomas Andrews was indicted for setting three fires to clinics in Redding and Chico.
5/1992TorontoARSONRemains open
3/1992North DakotaARSON$2,000 Remains open
3/1992OregonARSON$225,000 Rachelle Shannon pled guilty on 6/7/95 to 6 arson incidents and 2 acid incidents. Shannon was convicted of attempted murder of Dr. Tiller of Wichita, KS.
3/1992OhioARSON$1,000 Remains open
1/1992TexasARSON$300,000 Remains open
1/1992MontanaARSON$75,000 Attributed to Richard Andrews though he was not charged due to statute of limitations.
11/1991FloridaARSONMinimalRemains open
8/1991North CarolinaARSON$50,000 Remains open
5/1991AlabamaARSON$80,000 Remains open
3/1991New JerseyARSON$500,000 Alan Weiselberg pled guilty to insurance and mail fraud. It was a prosecutorial decision not to prosecute on the arson charges.
3/1991North CarolinaARSONMinimalRobert Hugh Farley arrested 3/91. Committed to mental institution.
3/1991North CarolinaARSON$100,000 Robert Hugh Farley arrested 3/91. Committed to mental institution.
2/1991OhioARSON$250,000 Remains open
2/1991ArizonaARSON$300Remains open
2/1991OhioBOMB$10,000 Remains open
11/1990IndianaARSON$10,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1990MassachusettsARSONMinimalClosed under statute of limitations.
9/1990CaliforniaARSON$50,000 David Brian Martin arrested for burglary; authorities ruled case not abortion-related.
8/1990WashingtonBOMB$400Closed under statute of limitations.
7/1990CaliforniaARSONMinimalClosed under statute of limitations.
7/1990CaliforniaARSON$30,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
5/1990OregonARSON$15,000 Daniel J. Carver indicted by state 6/1/90. Apprehended and pled guilty. Sentenced to three years in prison.
5/1990New YorkARSONMinimalShari DiNicola, arrested 5/28/90. Self-committed to mental institution. State will not prosecute
3/1990ArizonaARSONMinimalClosed under statute of limitations.
12/1989MissouriARSON$100,000 Two juveniles arrested on state juvenile charges for vandalism.
10/1989New JerseyARSONMinimalMarjorie Reed pled guilty to this and multiple other arson charges in 1992.
9/1989MichiganBOMB$300Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1989PennsylvaniaARSON$5,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
7/1989New HampshireARSON$1,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1989FloridaARSON$50,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1989TennesseeARSON$12,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1989FloridaARSON$60,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1989FloridaARSON$50,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
12/1988TexasARSON$25,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
12/1988TexasARSON$2,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
12/1988TexasARSON$65,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
10/1988CaliforniaARSON$50,000 Shannon Taylor convicted in state and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
6/1988CaliforniaARSONMinimalShannon Taylor convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
12/1987AlabamaARSONMinimalClosed under statute of limitations.
9/1987MinnesotaARSON$5,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1987MinnesotaARSONMinimalClosed under statute of limitations.
8/1987North DakotaARSON$500Scott Garman pled guilty. Sentenced to 2 months in prison, 2 years probation, and $215 fine. A juvenile was tried in state court and sentenced to two years deferred sentence and 100 hours community service.
7/1987CaliforniaBOMBMinimalDorman Owens, Joanne Kreipel, Cheryl Sullinger, Randy Sullinger, Chris Harmon, Robin Harmon and Erick Svelmoe were convicted of conspiracy and were given sentences ranging from 149 days to five years.
6/1987OhioARSON$1,000 Marjorie Reed pled guilty to this and multiple other arson charges in 1992. She served 5 years and was released in September 1997.
3/1987OhioARSON$1,000 Marjorie Reed pled guilty to this and multiple other arson charges in 1992. She served 5 years and was released in September 1997.
1/1987MinnesotaARSON$1,500 Mark J. Bundlie confessed to arson. Committed indefinitely to state institution.
1/1987IllinoisARSONMinimalDavid Holman pled guilty. Received 18 months imprisonment and 3 years probation.
12/1986CaliforniaARSON$35,000 Frederick Gordan Tipps arrested. Pled guilty to arson to cover burglary.
12/1986New YorkBOMBMinimalIn connection with this and other New York bombings, Dennis John Malvasi pled guilty to 3 counts & received five years in prison; Carl Cenera pled guilty and received three years in prison; Frank Wright, Jr., pled guilty and received two years in prison.
12/1986MichiganARSON$750,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
12/1986IllinoisARSONMinimalDavid Holman pled guilty. Received 18 months imprisonment and 3 years probation.
11/1986IllinoisARSONMinimalDavid Holman pled guilty. Received 18 months imprisonment and 3 years probation.
10/1986New YorkBOMB$10,000 In connection with this and other New York bombings, Dennis John Malvasi pled guilty to 3 counts & received five years in prison; CarlCenera pled guilty and received three years in prison; Frank Wright, Jr., pled guilty and received two years in prison.
6/1986MissouriARSON$100,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
6/1986KansasBOMB$100,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
5/1986OhioARSON$200,000 Marjorie Reed pled guilty to this and multiple other arson charges in 1992. She served 5 years in prison and was released in September 1997.
12/1985OhioARSON$75,000+John Brockhoeft pled guilty to one count arson in connection with multiple cases. Sentenced to 7 years in prison. Released in 1995.
12/1985OhioARSON$35,000 John Brockhoeft pled guilty to one count arson in connection with multiple cases. Sentenced to 7 years in prison. Released in 1995.
12/1985New YorkBOMBMinimalIn connection with this and other NY bombings, Dennis John Malvasi pled guilty to 3 counts and received 5 years in prison; Carl Cenera pled guilty and received 3 years in prison; Frank Wright, Jr., pled guilty and received 2 years in prison. Donald C. pryor, Jr. pled guilty but died before sentencing.
12/1985OhioARSON$20,000 Marjorie Reed pled guilty to this and multiple other arson charges in 1992. She served 5 years in prison and was released in September 1997.
10/1985LouisianaARSON$20,000 Brent Paul Braud, Derrick James Jarreau, John David Newchurch, and Charles Albert Cheshire Jr. each pled guilty to one count. Braud and Jarreau were sentenced to 2 years in prison and a $50 special assessment Newchurch was sentenced to 5 years, subject to review after a psychiatric exam.
10/1985LouisianaARSON$300,000 Brent Paul Braud, Derrick James Jarreau, John David Newchurch, and Charles Albert Cheshire Jr. each pled guilty to one count. Braud and Jarreau were sentenced to 2 years in prison and a $50 special assessment. Newchurch was sentenced to 5 years, subject to review after a psychiatric exam. Cheshire was sentenced to 5 years and ordered to pay $314,000 in restitution.
10/1985North CarolinaARSON$75,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1985CaliforniaARSON$10,000 Shane Cameron arrested. Convicted on unrelated arson charges.
2/1985TexasARSON$1,500,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
1/1985Washington, DCBOMB$100,000+Kenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks.
12/1984FloridaBOMB$100,000+Matthew Goldsby and James Simmons convicted in U.S. District Court; sentenced to 10 years in prison and $353,073.66 in fines. (Assessed only $350). Kathren Simmons and Kaye Wiggins convicted for conspiracy, received 5 years probation and $2,000 in fines. (Assessed only $50).
12/1984FloridaBOMB$225,000+Matthew Goldsby and James Simmons convicted in U.S. District Court; sentenced to 10 years in prison and $353,073.66 in fines. (Assessed only $350). Kathren Simmons and Kaye Wiggins convicted for conspiracy, received 5 years probation and $2,000 in fines. (Assessed only $50).
12/1984FloridaBOMB$100,000+Matthew Goldsby and James Simmons convicted in U.S. District Court; sentenced to 10 years in prison and $353,073.66 in fines. (Assessed only $350). Kathren Simmons and Kaye Wiggins convicted for conspiracy, received 5 years probation and $2,000 in fines.
12/1984MarylandBOMB$150,000 Kenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution. Michael Bray entered Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would be found guilty if tried, and was sentenced to six years.
11/1984MarylandBOMB$300,000 Kenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.
11/1984Washington, DCBOMBMinimalKenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution. Michael Bray entered Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would be found guilty if tried, and was sentenced to six years.
11/1984MarylandBOMB$50,000 Kenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.
11/1984TexasARSON$400,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1984GeorgiaARSON$8,000+Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1984CaliforniaARSON$125,000+Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1984GeorgiaARSON$5,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1984TexasARSON$90,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
9/1984TexasARSON$10,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
8/1984TexasARSON$30,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
7/1984MarylandBOMB$50,000+Kenneth Shields and Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.
7/1984Washington, DCBOMB$40,000 Kenneth Shields & Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and was ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution.
6/1984FloridaBOMB$200,000 Matthew Goldsby and James Simmons were arrested. U.S. Attorney declined to prosecute because of changes in insanity law. Both men and their girlfriends were prosecuted and convicted in district court. See 12/84 Florida cases.
5/1984OregonARSON$1,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1984WashingtonARSON$55,000 Curtis Beseda convicted in U.S. District Court; received two consecutive 10-year terms, 5 years probation, and ordered to pay $295,000 in restitution.
3/1984WashingtonARSON$10,000 Curtis Beseda convicted in U.S. District Court; received two consecutive 10-year terms, 5 years probation, and ordered to pay $295,000 in restitution.
3/1984WashingtonARSON$70,000 Curtis Beseda convicted in U.S. District Court; received two consecutive 10-year terms, 5 years probation, and ordered to pay $295,000 in restitution.
2/1984MarylandARSON$100,000 Kenneth Shields & Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and $55,000 in restitution. Michael Bray entered Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would be found guilty if tried, and was sentenced to six years.
2/1984VirginiaARSON$1,000 Kenneth Shields & Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and $55,000 in restitution. Michael Bray entered Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would be found guilty if tried, and was sentenced to six years.
1/1984DelawareARSON$100,000 Kenneth Shields & Thomas Spinks pled guilty to conspiracy in connection with this and 9 other cases. Shields received 15 years and $55,000 in restitution. Michael Bray entered Alford plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges he would be found guilty if tried, and was sentenced to six years.
12/1983WashingtonARSON$45,000 Curtis Beseda convicted in U.S. District Court; received two consecutive 10-year terms, 5 years probation, and ordered to pay $295,000 in restitution.
5/1983VirginiaARSON$250,000 Joseph Grace convicted in state court. Regarding this and other arson charges, he was sentenced to 10-20 years in Virginia state prison. Scheduled for release: April, 1999.
10/1982New JerseyARSON$100,000+Closed under statute of limitations.
6/1982VirginiaBOMB$18,000 Don Benny Anderson & Matthew Moore convicted in state court. Both pled guilty and received 30 years, to be served consecutively with 30-year sentence received by Anderson, Matthew Moore and brother Wayne Moore for kidnapping of Illinois physician and his wife.
5/1982FloridaARSON$340,000 Don Benny Anderson & Matthew Moore convicted in state court. Both pled guilty and received 30 years, to be served consecutively with 30-year sentence received by Anderson, Matthew Moore and brother Wayne Moore for kidnapping of Illinois physician and his wife.
5/1982FloridaARSON$122,000 Don Benny Anderson & Matthew Moore convicted in state court. Both pled guilty and received 30 years, to be served consecutively with 30-year sentence received by Anderson, Matthew Moore and brother Wayne Moore for kidnapping of Illinois physician and his wife.
1/1982IllinoisARSON$100,000+Closed under statute of limitations.
4/1981MichiganARSON$30,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
2/1979New YorkARSON$100,000+Peter Burkin entered clinic during working hours, set it on fire and injured himself, risking staff & patientsu00d5 lives. Acquitted of attempted murder and arson; found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of arson and reckless endangerment.
6/1978IowaBOMBUnknownClosed under statute of limitations.
6/1978OhioBOMBUnknownClosed under statute of limitations.
5/1978VermontBOMBUnknownClosed under statute of limitations.
2/1978OhioBOMB$3,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
2/1978OhioARSON$200,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
2/1978OhioARSON$100,000+Closed under statute of limitations. (Man entered clinic, blinded a technician by throwing chemicals, and set center on fire, destroying it. Clinic was full of patients at the time; they escaped without injury).
8/1977NebraskaARSON$35,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
5/1977VermontARSON$100,000+Closed under statute of limitations.
2/1977MinnesotaARSON$250,000 Closed under statute of limitations.
3/1976OregonARSON$19,000 Joseph C. Stockett was convicted and served two years in prison.

DateState/ProvinceEst. Damage
7/1998TexasUnknown
7/1998TexasUnknown
7/1998TexasUnknown
7/1998TexasUnknown
7/1998LouisianaUnknown
7/1998LouisianaUnknown
7/1998Louisiana$13,000
7/1998LouisianaUnknown
7/1998LouisianaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998Florida$3,000
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
5/1998FloridaUnknown
11/1996Alberta
5/1994Texas$1,000
5/1994New York$10,000
4/1994New York$60,000
4/1994Nebraska$1,000
2/1994IndianaMinor
2/1994Wisconsin$1,000
10/1993Colorado$1,000
8/1993Wisconsin$40,000
8/1993Wisconsin$10,000
5/1993Indiana$150,000
3/1993California$100,000+
3/1993Kansas$5,000
2/1993Texas$10,000
12/1992Florida$5,000
11/1992Texas$750
10/1992Louisianaunknown
10/1992Florida$3,000
10/1992Louisianaunknown
10/1992Alabama$25,000+
10/1992Texas$3,000
10/1992Louisiana$28,000
9/1992Michigan$40,000
9/1992Texas$500
9/1992Michigan$60,000
9/1992Michigan$13,000
9/1992California$7,000
9/1992Michigan$7,000
9/1992Nevada$2,000
7/1992Michigan$3,000
7/1992Ohio$20,000
6/1992Kansas$500
6/1992Illinois$5,000
6/1992Illinois$1,500
6/1992Illinois$2,000
5/1992Tennessee$200,000
4/1992Kentucky$800
4/1992Michigan$1,000
4/1992Michigan$5,000
3/1992Texas$25,000
3/1992Colorado$15,000

Letters threatening anthrax poisoning were first used to terrorize and disrupt reproductive health care clinics in October 1998, just days after the murder of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian. At that time, about a dozen clinics across the country received letters that claimed to contain anthrax toxin. They threatened that clinic personnel exposed to the letters would die. Since then, additional anthrax threat letters have been received by clinics in February and June 1999, January 2000, October and November 2001, and January 2002. As of January 2002, approximately 654 letters have been received by clinics across the United States.

Letters were postmarked from various places, including Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, New York, and Washington, DC. Early letters contained no return addresses, but after law enforcement agents advised clinic personnel around the country to avoid opening mail from anonymous senders, letters started arriving with phony return addresses that included fictitious medical supply companies, the department of taxation, other clinics, law enforcement agencies, and pro-choice organizations.

While investigation has proven that none of the letters have actually contained anthrax toxin, virtually every case has resulted in frightening clinic staff and patients, disrupting services, and wasting valuable law enforcement resources.

The 554 letters sent via U.S. Mail and FedEx in 2001 have been attributed to anti-abortion extremist Clayton Waagner. Waagner was convicted in December 2003 of various charges including threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction for sending the letters. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Suspicious mail guidelines from the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Chronology of Anthrax Threat Letters

YearCount
199812
199935
200030
2001554
200223
20030
20041
20050
20060
20071
20083
20092
20101
20111
20120
20130
20140
20150
20160
20170
20180
20190
Total663

Anti-Abortion Extremists

For more than 30 years, anti-abortion extremists have used violence against abortion providers to advance their own personal and political agendas. They have injured and murdered health care workers across the country and attempted to intimidate and harass patients who need reproductive health care.

Many of the anti-abortion extremists who advocate and perpetrate violence against reproductive health care centers and abortion providers frequently travel across city, county, state, and international boundaries to participate in these activities.

Ideology

The Army of God (AOG) and its members are anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ. At its conception in the ‘80s, the AOG was small; however, the group united and educated isolated individuals on how to take radical measures against abortion providers. They have historically advocated for the use intimidation and violence against abortion providers, facilities, and supporters as the only way to stop abortions nationwide. They subscribe only to the teachings of God and find their violent actions “justifiable” in order to “defend the life of an unborn child,” although their claims for justifiable homicide have never substantiated in court.

The Rise of the Army of God

The first public mention of the Army of God is believed to be during a 1982 kidnapping of an Illinois abortion provider and his wife; however, at that time, there was no proof that it was a nationwide organization. The hostages reported that a few days into the incident, the perpetrators cited the Army of God and anti-abortion sentiments as their motivation. Eight days after the initial kidnapping, the hostages were released unharmed on the side of a highway near their home. Don Benny Anderson, Matthew Moore, and Wayne Moore were later apprehended and convicted on kidnapping charges, as well as on multiple counts of arson for attacks on abortion facilities they carried out together earlier that year.

Several other attacks were carried out by perpetrators who would later be identified as key players in the Army of God, before the official organization of AOG. In October 1988, numerous Operation Rescue extremists were arrested and remained in jail together for several weeks for the “siege” they carried out during the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, GA. This period of confinement is believed to be when the Army of God was officially formed, and when its members were given aliases. Members have since carried out numerous attacks nationwide, ranging from misdemeanors like gluing clinic entrances shut, to first degree felonies, including arson and murder.

"The Army of God Manual" – A Guide To Anti-Abortion Protest and Violence

The AOG has published and circulated their “how-to” manual as a, “means to disrupt and ultimately destroy Satan's power to kill our children, God's Children.” The initial publication date is unknown, and the author remains anonymous. There are three editions of the Army of God manual, all of which were published in the 1980s. They advocate for escalating acts of violence, culminating in the “justifiable homicide” of abortion providers.

Law enforcement found the manual buried in the backyard when they were searching Shelley Shannon’s home and property after she shot Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS, in 1993 Shannon’s daughter, Angi Shannon, is believed to have hidden the manual and was consequently charged with obstruction.

The Army of God and Justifiable Homicide

Members of the Army of God support violence against abortion providers. After the murders of Drs. Gunn and Britton, Defensive Action, or justifiable homicide petitions were circulated among those who agreed that the murders committed by Michael Griffin and Paul Hill were “justifiable.” Hill and his attorneys tried to use the “justifiable homicide” defense in his murder trial, but the judge would not allow it. The judge ruled that the defense was not valid because it did not meet the standards of Florida’s justifiable homicide law, which is cited only in cases of self-defense or when a defendant killed to protect a third person.

Army of God members not only justify violence against providers, they praise it. AOG members have held White Rose Banquets where they honor anti-abortion extremists who are in prison for committing felonies, celebrate the violence against providers, and encourage supporters to commit additional violent acts. The banquets attract attendees from around the country who support violence and who often have committed violence against abortion providers. Michael Bray, sometimes referred to as the Chaplain of the Army of God, has previously hosted the annual White Rose Banquets on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

On the morning of November 27, 2015, Robert Dear entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, and held clinic staff and patients hostage for five hours. During that time, Dear exchanged gunfire with law enforcement, killing three people—one police officer and two civilians—and injuring nine others.

Dear’s ex-wife reported that he had once glued the locks of a Planned Parenthood facility in Charleston, SC, but he did not have any other history of incidents at reproductive health facilities; however, he did have several allegations of domestic violence against him and had been arrested for voyeurism before the shooting.

Charges and (Lack of) Conviction

State prosecutors charged Dear with 179 felony counts, including multiple counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and assault. During the proceedings, Dear reportedly stated, “I’m guilty, there’s no trial. I’m a warrior for the babies.” Despite Dear’s confession and his desire to use “justifiable homicide” as his defense, he has continuously been deemed incompetent to stand trial. Nevertheless, federal prosecutors moved forward with the federal case four years after the shooting, because Colorado had “failed to advance” the state case, and the statute of limitations under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act is five years. On December 9, 2019, Dear was indicted by a federal grand jury on 65 counts of violating the FACE Act and three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death where the killing is a murder.

Dear will continue to appear in court every 90 days for a competency determination, as required under Colorado’s criminal insanity statute, until he is considered competent to stand trial. He remains at a mental health facility in Pueblo, CO.

The Murder of Dr. David Gunn

On the morning of March 10, 1993, Michael Griffin waited for Dr. David Gunn to arrive at his clinic in Pensacola, FL. Griffin yelled “Don’t kill any more babies” and shot Dr. Gunn three times before turning himself into the police. This was the first time an abortion provider had been murdered by an anti-abortion extremist in the United States.

When the other protesters at the clinic realized what had just happened, they cheered. Protesters outside of other Florida clinics reacted to the news of Dr. Gunn’s death with shouts of “Praise God! One of the baby-killers is dead.”

The Trial

Throughout the trial, Griffin showed no remorse and sent a letter from jail to other anti-choice individuals stating that he believed it would be worth losing his life if even one abortion was stopped that day. Griffin’s lawyers wanted to use an insanity defense, but this was disallowed after Griffin refused to be examined by the prosecution’s psychologist. Griffin did not testify during the trial. He was convicted by the jury of first-degree murder, after only three hours of deliberation. In March 1994, Griffin was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

No Parole for Griffin

The Florida Commission on Offender Review was required to reassess Griffin’s release date in November 2017, due to the mandatory minimum of 25 years for first-degree murder in the state. The Commission decided not to release him on parole. His case will not be reconsidered until July 2024, with a release date set for March 9, 2043. Read former National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta’s statement on Griffin’s parole denial here.

Griffin’s Influence on the Anti-Abortion Movement

Griffin has been revered as a hero by some in the anti-abortion movement. The murder he committed motivated others to publicly endorse violence against providers and even carry out acts of violence themselves.

Following Dr. Gunn’s murder, Defensive Action statements, or justifiable homicide petitions, were circulated among those who agreed that Griffin’s actions were “justifiable.” One of the petition signers, Paul Hill, called Griffin an “inspiration.” Hill went on to murder another physician who provided abortion care in Florida, Dr. John Britton, and his volunteer security escort, James Barrett, in 1994, just a few months after Griffin was convicted.

Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon wrote to Griffin calling him the “greatest hero of our time,” before she shot Dr. George Tiller in both arms in August 1993.

In December 1994, John Salvi murdered clinic workers Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols at two clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts. Five others were injured in the attacks. Salvi claimed he was inspired by Griffin.

On the morning of July 29, 1994, Paul Hill went to the Pensacola, Florida, clinic where he had been protesting for years, but on this morning, he approached the blue pickup truck driving into the clinic, held up a shotgun, and assassinated an abortion provider, Dr. John Britton, and a volunteer escort, James H. Barrett. He also injured Barrett’s wife, who regularly volunteered as an escort at the clinic and was riding in the truck that morning. A nearby officer quickly responded to the scene and arrested Hill without a struggle.

Charges and Conviction

Hill pleaded guilty to two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. He chose to represent himself and used a “justifiable homicide” defense, saying that the murders were necessary in order to defend a third party. Judge Frank Bell ruled that Hill could not use this defense because his actions were “immoral,” and ultimately left Hill with no defense at all. Hill did not question witnesses, introduce evidence, or give a closing argument. The jury found Hill guilty of all charges after only 20 minutes. Hill was sentenced to the death penalty, which was requested by a survivor of the shooting and wife of the deceased.

Execution

Paul Hill went to death row following his conviction in 1994. Throughout his incarceration, Hill remained unrepentant and continued to claim that he was serving God’s will when he shot Dr. Britton and urged others to follow his lead. He was eager to become a martyr for his cause, which is evident by several statements made to the anti-abortion community and his lack of appeal in the weeks leading up to his execution. Donald Spitz served as Hill’s spiritual advisor during his final weeks in custody. Hill’s death warrant was signed by Governor Jeb Bush in July 2003, and Hill was executed months later by lethal injection on September 3, 2003 in Starke, Florida.

Paul Hill was the first and only murderer of an abortion provider in the United States to face the death penalty and be executed.

Horsley became a staunch opponent of abortion during his time at Westminster Theological Seminary, which he attended after his release from a 30-month sentence in federal prison for possession. In an interview in Atlanta magazine in 2001, he alluded to having an epiphany while studying the Bible one day in Hebrew class.

The Nuremberg Files – A Virtual Hit List

In 1997, Neal Horsley created a website called The Nuremberg Files: Visualize the Abortionists on Trial. On this site, he published the names, personal identifying information, and photos of hundreds of abortion providers across the United States on “Unwanted Posters”. He also crossed out the names of physicians who no longer provided abortions, or who died or were killed, with red lines. Another Horsley website posts photographs and videos of patients, staff, and physicians entering and exiting facilities.

Legal Ramifications of the Nuremberg Files

Horsley was accused of Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murder in 1998, because Slepian’s name was crossed out on his website before the murder was committed. Horsley countered these claims with an unsuccessful libel and slander lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and several media outlets. While he was ultimately not charged with the murder of Dr. Slepian, he was named as a co-conspirator in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA). The original verdict in 2001 declared that Horsley’s site was protected under the First Amendment, but the ruling was overturned in an appeal by Planned Parenthood in 2002. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed that his “Unwanted” posters were threats and cannot be protected speech; however, Horsley continued to add names to the list and worked to maintain the site until his death in 2015.

The Nuremberg Files Inspire Anti-Abortion Violence

While Horsley was never convicted for conspiracy in Dr. Slepian’s murder, it is suspected that James Kopp used the Nuremberg Files website to locate and aid in his plan to murder Dr. Slepian. Additionally, Clayton Waagner claims he used Horsley’s website to stalk and plan the murders of 42 abortion providers nationwide after he escaped from custody, although he was captured before he could commit these crimes.

On October 23, 1998, abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot and killed by a single bullet from a high-powered rifle fired through the window of his Amherst, NY home while he was standing in the kitchen with his wife and children nearby. Similar shootings injured providers in Vancouver, BC, on November 8, 1994; Ancaster, ON, on November 10, 1995; Rochester, NY, on October 28, 1997; and Winnipeg, MB, on November 11, 1997.

Investigation and Kopp’s Involvement in Shootings of Abortion Providers

Kopp was officially charged with Dr. Slepian’s murder on May 6, 1999. He was charged by the state of New York with second-degree murder and was charged federally with a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act due to the use of force to prevent a physician from providing reproductive health care services.

On November 4, 1998, less than two weeks after the murder, a material witness warrant was issued for James Charles Kopp in connection with the shooting death of Dr. Slepian. Doris Grady, a friend of Kopp’s, testified in a pre-trial hearing that she drove Kopp to Mexico in November 1998 and helped him to disguise his identity along the way. The FBI placed Kopp on their Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List on June 7, 1999.

The Ontario Police issued an arrest warrant for Kopp on January 24, 2000, for the attempted murder of an abortion provider, Dr. Hugh Short, who was shot in his home in November 1995. At that time, Kopp was also listed as a “person of interest” in the 1994 Vancouver, BC shooting and the 1997 Winnipeg, MB shooting.

In October 2000, a federal grand jury in New York indicted Kopp in absentia for the murder of Dr. Slepian.

Kopp was eventually captured in Dinan, France on March 29, 2001. Prior to his capture, Kopp is alleged to have spent time in Ireland, England, and Scotland. Kopp was attempting to pick up money that Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra wired him when he was captured. Malvasi and Marra were arrested shortly after Kopp for aiding and abetting a fugitive and were sentenced to time served (over two years).

Kopp was extradited to the United States on June 5, 2002, after the U.S. provided official assurance that the death penalty would not be sought in his case.

The Evidence

Witnesses gave statements that they saw someone resembling Kopp jogging near the Slepian home in the days prior to the shooting. Witnesses also saw Kopp’s car in Dr. Slepian’s neighborhood in the weeks prior to the murder. A hair sample from the crime scene was matched to Kopp from a DNA sample taken from a toothbrush that investigators found in his apartment. A gun was found buried at the crime scene and was linked to Kopp by the worker at the Tennessee shop that sold Kopp the gun. In addition, Kopp’s Chevy was seen crossing into Canada near Niagara Falls after the 1997 Rochester, NY, shooting, and at the Canada/North Dakota border shortly after the 1997 Winnipeg shooting. His car was also seen in the Hamilton, ON, area before the Ancaster shooting.

Kopp’s Confession

James Kopp vehemently denied any involvement in Dr. Slepian’s murder for months and demanded that his innocence be recognized. Grady provided Kopp’s alibi and told the police he could not possibly have purchased a gun in Tennessee at the time authorities alleged because he was at her home in Pennsylvania during that time.

Five years later, Kopp claimed he wanted to set the record straight for the sake of his supporters who were publicly proclaiming his innocence and saying the FBI had framed him. In an interview with the Buffalo News on November 20, 2002, seven months after his capture in France, James Kopp confessed to the murder of Dr. Slepian. After his confession, prosecutors charged him with an additional charge of reckless murder with depraved indifference to human life. Referring to the safety of abortion providers, Kopp said, “They’re still in danger, absolutely. I’m not the first, and I probably won’t be the last… To pick up a gun and aim it at another human being, and to fire, it’s not a human thing to do. It’s not nice. It’s not pleasant. It’s gory, it’s bloody. It overcomes every human instinct. The only thing that would be worse, to me, would be to do nothing, and to allow abortions to continue.”

Kopp’s State and Federal Trials

In lieu of a jury trial, Kopp agreed to a bench trial in front of a judge for his state charges. On March 18, 2003, Kopp was found guilty of second-degree murder. He was sentenced on May 9, 2003, to the maximum punishment under New York state law of 25 years to life in prison.

Kopp, who served as his own attorney in federal court, was convicted by a federal jury in January 2007 of violating the FACE Act by killing Dr. Slepian. He was sentenced to the maximum penalty for this charge of life in prison without parole.

Kopp’s Previous Anti-Abortion Activities and Arrests

James Kopp had been arrested on numerous occasions, prior to the shootings of abortion providers in the mid-90s. His first recorded arrest was in San Francisco, CA, in April 1984. He subsequently had many other arrests in the Bay Area for crimes related to clinic protests over the next four years.

In November 1986, Kopp was arrested in Pensacola, FL, while protesting fellow anti-abortion extremist Joan Andrews Bell’s sentencing for a clinic invasion.

In July 1988 in Atlanta, GA, Kopp was arrested with many other protesters at an Operation Rescue “siege” during the Democratic National Convention, where the Army of God is believed to have been officially formed.

In 1988, he went to Binghamton, NY, and volunteered for Randall Terry in the Operation Rescue office. From 1988 through 1991, Kopp was arrested several times at clinic protests while traveling with Operation Rescue and Lambs of Christ throughout the Northeast United States, including Binghamton, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Burlington, VT; Charleston, WV; and Levittown, NY. He frequently chained himself to doors and tables at reproductive health facilities using locks that took hours for law enforcement to remove.

In the early 1990s, Kopp traveled worldwide to protest abortion, often with Joan Andrews Bell. On several of those occasions, he was arrested with Lambs of Christ leader Norman Weslin. After an arrest for trespassing and damaging property in San Jose, CA, in 1993, Kopp was not arrested at a clinic again until an invasion in Englewood, NJ, in 1997. Kopp is believed to have avoided publicity during the years that he was allegedly committing the provider shootings in Canada and the U.S.

In 2009, Scott Roeder was seen vandalizing a Kansas City, KS, clinic, Aid for Women, twice in the week before he murdered Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS. The clinic manager called the FBI and local police both times, but Roeder was not arrested. Additionally, the FBI received an anonymous letter stating that Roeder “would do physical harm” to abortion providers, although it did not contain a specific threat.

On May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder fatally shot Dr. George Tiller while he was attending services at his local church. After threatening two other individuals, he fled the church by car. Police apprehended Roeder later that day three hours outside of Wichita.

Roeder’s Influence on the Anti-Abortion Movement

Dr. Tiller’s murder garnered an outcry of support from many anti-abortion extremists. Roeder idolized Paul Hill, who wrote the first “Defensive Action Statement” in 1993 that argued that the murder of an abortion provider is justified, because it was in defense of a third party. A third edition of the “Defensive Action Statement” was circulated among the anti-abortion community in 2009 to indicate their support for Roeder’s actions and to petition for Judge Wilbert to allow the justifiable homicide defense during Roeder’s trial. Many signatories of this petition were members of the Army of God and celebrated Roeder’s use of deadly violence against an abortion provider.

Donald Spitz, a leader of the Army of God, said that Roeder is the “definition of a hero”. Long-time anti-abortion extremists David Leach and Regina Dinwiddie spoke as character witnesses on Roeder’s behalf. Dan and Donna Holman, signatories of the Justifiable Homicide petition, praised Roeder and helped him to write an allocution statement during his trial. 

The Trial

On June 2, 2009, the state of Kansas charged Roeder with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with Tiller’s murder. During the preliminary hearing in July, Roeder pleaded not guilty to all charges. During an Associated Press interview in November 2009, Roeder confessed to shooting Dr. Tiller and stated his intent to use a necessity defense during his trial.

On April 1, 2010, almost a year after he murdered Dr. Tiller, Roeder was given the maximum sentence of 50 years without the possibility of parole for premeditated first-degree murder. He was sentenced to an additional 2 years for aggravated assault for pointing his weapon at two bystanders on the day of the murder.

Roeder’s Resentencing

In 2013, the Supreme Court decision in Alleyne v. United States ruled that juries must determine any facts of the case that would increase punishment. Consequentially, Roeder appealed his sentence. In order to avoid another public trial that would have forced Dr. Tiller’s family and community to relive the details of his murder and given Roeder another platform to voice his personal political agenda, the prosecution was willing to offer a more lenient sentence. The state abandoned the “Hard 50” sentence and conferred with Dr. Tiller’s family before supporting a new sentence of 25 years without parole. Roeder will still be required to serve two years for the two aggravated assault charges after his 25 years.

Eric Robert Rudolph was arrested on May 31, 2003 without incident in his hometown of Murphy, NC for multiple bombings and murders between 1996-1998. Rudolph disappeared in 1998 and was captured in May 2003, during which time he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.

Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombings at Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA, in July 1996; an abortion clinic in Atlanta, GA, in January 1997; a gay bar in Atlanta, GA, February 1997; and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL in January 1998. Additionally, he pleaded guilty to the murders resulting from the bombings at Olympic Park and the Birmingham clinic. In total, the bombing spree killed two and injured 150 people. After the bombings of the gay nightclub and the Atlanta abortion clinic, media outlets received letters that alleged to be from the Army of God claiming credit for the attacks. Rudolph pleaded guilty to all charges and is currently serving four consecutive life sentences plus 120 years at a super-maximum security prison in Colorado.

On December 30, 1994, John Salvi shot and killed two people at two Brookline, MA clinics. Five others were wounded during the attacks. Witnesses stated that Salvi shouted, "This is what you get! You should pray the rosary!" while shooting one of the victims in the clinic ten times. A manhunt ensued in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that evening for Salvi, but he was already on the road, heading south. The next day, Salvi arrived at a reproductive health clinic in Norfolk, VA, where he carried out another shooting. No one was injured. He was pulled over a few blocks from the Norfolk clinic, and surrendered to the arresting officer.

Salvi’s lawyers used paranoid schizophrenia as his defense, but Salvi was deemed competent to stand trial. He was convicted by the State of Massachusetts on two counts of first-degree murder and was given the mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in March 1996. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, and the US Attorney General chose not to prosecute; however, less than six months later, Salvi committed suicide in prison on November 29, 1996.

Salvi was not a known member of any major anti-abortion groups and did not sign any of the Defensive Action statements that were circulated by the Army of God.

Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon’s first incident of anti-abortion violence dates to 1988, when she attended her first Right to Life meeting and started blockading clinics. She claims this is the year she reached a turning point in her life after learning about a movie that depicts a sonogram of an abortion. She attended several of Operation Rescue’s “Summer of Mercy” events and was one of the jailed participants of the Operation Rescue “siege” in Atlanta in 1988, where the Army of God was believed to be officially formed. She committed a series of arsons and butyric acid attacks at clinics on the west coast in 1992.

On August 19, 1993, Shannon shot Dr. George Tiller in both arms outside of his clinic, Women’s Health Care, in Wichita, Kansas. When Shannon was arrested, she admitted to shooting Dr. Tiller and stated that she had no remorse. On March 25 1994, Shannon was convicted by the state of Kansas for attempted first-degree murder. Additionally, she was later convicted in Oregon and California for the 10 attacks on abortion facilities she committed in 1992. She completed her 25-year sentence in a federal penitentiary for these crimes and was released from a half-way house and was assigned a federal probation officer in Portland, OR, on November 7, 2018.

Shannon is known to have had phone contact with Army of God extremist Donald Spitz days before her official release. She has also kept in contact, and had many visits over the years, with other known extremists that condone violence against abortion providers.

Shannon’s prosecutor, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, stated that Shannon is “completely unrehabilitated and totally incorrigible,” adding that “she has the same mentality and goals that she had when she was convicted.”

Donald Spitz is the Director of Pro-Life Virginia (formerly Operation Rescue Chesapeake) and is known as a leader with the Army of God. He has attended multiple White Rose Banquets, signed all three Defensive Action statements, and is the host of the Army of God website, which praises many instances of anti-abortion violence. The site defended Paul Hill for his murders in Pensacola, FL. Spitz later served as Paul Hill’s “spiritual advisor” and visited with Hill daily in prison in the weeks leading up to his execution. Spitz posted messages from Clayton Waagner that threatened abortion providers and clinic staff, while Waagner was on the run from law enforcement officials. In 2018, Spitz posted writings from convicted bomber and murderer Eric Rudolph.

While Spitz condones and publicly praises anti-abortion violence and extremism, he has only been arrested once for his presence at a reproductive health facility. On September 8, 1990, Spitz was arrested for blockading a clinic in Norfolk, VA. He was found guilty, sentenced to ten days in jail, and fined $250.

As reported by clinic staff, Spitz has been part of an intense stalking campaign against physicians and clinic administrators in Southeast Virginia, including regular home picketing and harassment, as well as the mailing of hundreds of “wanted” posters to the neighbors of physicians and clinic staff.

In January 2003, Spitz attended a protest in support of James Kopp in Buffalo, New York, and carried a sign that said, “Bye bye Slepian bye bye.”

Jedidiah Stout confessed to attempting to burn down a Planned Parenthood facility in Missouri twice in 2013. Law enforcement discovered surveillance footage of Stout buying his supplies for the attack the same week. While in custody, Stout also admitted to burning down a Mosque in Joplin, MO in 2012. He was convicted and served his full 63-month sentence.

Stout was released from custody in late 2018 and has been moved to a residential care facility. His release terms include a 36-month supervised probation, which he violated in June 2018 by failing to pay restitution. He will remain in the custody of a residential care facility in Crane, MO where he has 24-hour protective oversite, until May 2021. At that time, he will be evaluated for release by the director of the facility and his probation officer.

In 2015, Maria Terry threw rocks through the windows of a Planned Parenthood health center in St. Louis, MO. In March 2017, she pleaded guilty to property damage and resisting arrest. She was sentenced to three years in prison; however, her sentence was suspended, contingent upon Terry adhering to court-ordered conditions, including mental health monitoring.

In November 2018, Terry was still on probation. She tweeted at Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“I'm gonna blow Up ALL YOUR FACILITIES AND CUT THE EYES OUT OF YOUR DOULAS.”

She pleaded guilty to violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and transmitting a threatening communication over the internet. She was sentenced to one year in prison and was granted three years of supervised release in September 2019.

Clayton Waagner had a history of arrests for violent felonies, dating back to 1975, before becoming active in the anti-abortion movement. In September 1999, Waagner was arrested after crossing into Illinois with his wife and children in a stolen Winnebago. Police found four stolen handguns under the driver's seat. Waagner said he was on his way to Seattle, where he hoped to shoot an abortion doctor. He also stated that he would have shot the arresting officer if his family had not been with him. He was taken into custody and convicted of possession of firearms and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. While in jail, Waagner received a letter from Donald Spitz, a leader of the Army of God, informing Waagner that they shared beliefs about using “justifiable” actions to stop abortion.

Escaping and Eluding Capture

In February 2001, Waagner escaped from the Dewitt County Jail in Clinton, IL, while awaiting sentencing, and eluded capture for nine months. While running from law enforcement officials, Waagner traveled extensively and was later charged with bank robbery, vehicle theft, possession of firearms, and threatening abortion providers. Waagner admitted to sending 554 anthrax threat letters to clinics across the country during that time. In addition, he used the Army of God and Nuremberg Files websites to post threats against abortion providers and clinic staff.

During the summer of 2001, Waagner posted a threat on a message board on the Army of God website, stating:

"So the abortionists don't get the wrong idea, I don't plan on talking them to death. I'm going to kill as many of them as I can.... It doesn't matter to me if you're a nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor, if you work for the murderous abortionist I'm going to kill you."

During the week of October 15, 2001, anthrax threat letters were received by over 250 reproductive health clinics in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. The letters bore the return address of either the United States Secret Service or the United States Marshals Service and were marked "Time Sensitive, Urgent Security Notice Enclosed." The letters were sent from Cleveland and Columbus, OH; Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN. The envelopes contained a powdery substance and many were signed by the Army of God.

On November 7, 2001 about 270 anthrax threat letters were sent via Federal Express to clinics and pro-choice organizations in Eastern, Midwestern and Southern States. The letters fraudulently carried the return addresses and account numbers of the National Abortion Federation or Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The FedEx envelopes contained powder and a letter signed by the Virginia Dare Cell of the Army of God.

Anti-abortion extremist and Nuremberg Files creator Neal Horsley claims that Waagner visited him at his home in Carrollton, GA, on November 23, 2001. In a lengthy conversation with Waagner, Horsley said Waagner claimed credit for sending anthrax threat letters to clinics. Waagner also claimed that he had a list of clinic workers, their vehicles, and their addresses from Neal Horsley’s website The Nuremberg Files. Waagner said he intended to start killing these people if they did not quit working at abortion clinics. He would not reveal the names of those on his list but said "the holy spirit would tell" those who were being targeted. Horsley claimed Waagner was also carrying a weapon and that he tied Horsley up with tape before he left.

Capture

The FBI, ATF, and USMS put Waagner on their Most Wanted lists. The DOJ also successfully advocated to have Attorney General Ashcroft issue a public statement promising to prosecute those responsible for sending the anthrax letters of the law.

On December 5, 2001, just days after Ashcroft's announcement, Waagner was captured outside Cincinnati, OH. A Kinko's employee identified Clayton Lee Waagner as the man using a computer at his store and called 911. Waagner was preparing to fax a bomb threat to a mass list of clinics and was subsequently arrested and taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Charges and Convictions

On December 12, 2001, Waagner was extradited to Illinois to face charges for escaping from prison. In early 2002, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail for the charges he was found guilty of before escaping from prison, as well as for his escape.

In April 2002, Waagner was convicted in Cincinnati, OH, of six charges relating to weapons violations and stolen vehicles. He represented himself, and the federal jury took just forty minutes to return the guilty verdict. He was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison for these crimes. This sentence was ordered to be served after Waagner completes his previous sentence of 30 years. His projected release date is January 27, 2046.

While being held in a Kentucky county jail while on trial for additional charges, Waagner and his cellmate tried to escape, but were unsuccessful.  

Waagner was later indicted on 53 federal terrorism charges related to the hundreds of anthrax threat letters he claims he sent to clinics across the country in the fall of 2001. The charges include extortion, threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction, mailing threatening communications, and violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Some of the charges also relate to his threatening website post.

After a trial in Federal District Court in Philadelphia, PA, in late 2003, where Waagner acted as his own attorney, a jury took only about two and a half hours to convict Waagner on 51 of the 53 counts of the indictment.