In response to Friday's deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three dead and nine injured, pro-choice activist and abortion patient escort Michelle Kinsey Bruns took to Twitter to demonstrate that violence against abortion clinics and providers is a continuing problem in America.
Using the hashtag #is100enough, Bruns cited at least 100 examples of threats and attacks perpetrated against abortion clinics and providers starting with the first known arson attack in 1976 to now. Below is a map of 57 of those incidents for which we were able to identify geographical data.
Violence against clinics isn't new. Most clinics experience multiple attacks.
Since 1977 there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons targeted at abortion clinics and providers across the United States. In some cases, a small group of clinics have been targeted multiple times.
For instance, American Family Planning of Pensacola (formerly the Ladies Center in Pensacola) has experienced at least five separate attacks on its premises since 1984 and as recently as 2012. In 1984, the clinic underwent two bomb attacks in the span of six months, with the first attack forcing the clinic to relocate its offices because the damage was so extensive.
Similarly, the Everett, Washington, branch of the Feminist Women's Health Center experienced three arson attacks from 1983 to 1984 and was forced to close its doors a little after a year it opened because the cost of repairs was so prohibitive. And just this September, a Planned Parenthood center in the greater Los Angeles area came under attack for the second time in two months.
Authorities said there was no evidence the arson was related to the larger controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, but reported that the clinic was attacked by vandals six weeks ago. Since the release of a series of sting videos this summer by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood has been swept up in controversy, and many clinics have been attacked as a result.
Abortion and health care providers are also the targets of repeated attacks
The buildings aren't the only targets of such attacks. Often, doctors and health care providers are also targeted repeatedly. Most famously, Dr. George Tiller, who achieved notoriety in anti-abortion circles for his role as director of a clinic that was one of three nationally to provide late-term abortions, was shot twice by anti-abortion extremists — once in 1993 and then fatally in 2009.
Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion extremist who fatally shot Tiller outside of a church service Tiller had attended, said about the incident, "I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children. I shot him." When asked if he felt remorse, Roeder said no but that he felt "a sense of relief."
There is no comprehensive data source of attacks perpetrated against abortion health care providers. While awareness campaigns like #is100enough serve as important reminders, there is still much to be done to increase accountability for violence committed against abortion clinics — including to stop denying that America has a problem with violence against abortion clinics.