Moral zealotry and violence
To moral zealots, a disagreement is more than just a difference of opinion; it can be an attack on their core worth. As a result, they have been known to lie, distort, misquote, libel their opponents and engage in censorship or repression. For extremists, any setback is the “beginning of the end”. Religious extremists, writes Rabbi Robert Wolkoff, never need a political purpose, since they “identify with divine power in annihilating the forces of chaos”. They believe they are engaged in an apocalyptic war between light and darkness. Their role in this cosmic conflict is to demonstrate the destructive power of the One True God against Evil. There is little room for compromise, since human laws are irrelevant next to “God’s Laws.” The opposition, writes Wolkoff, “is symbolic of the forces of evil and chaos to be destroyed.”
Abortion clinics and domestic terrorism
Since 1980 the National Abortion Federation has identified more than 10,000 reported acts of terrorism against lawful reproductive rights supporters in the United States. There have been thousands of abortion clinic blockades. Clinic workers have been regularly stalked. There have been hundreds of clinic arson attacks, bombings and even anthrax scares. There have been kidnappings and shootings. Nine abortion providers have been murdered. The latest assassination took place in 2009 when Dr. George Tiller, an abortion doctor who specialized in late term abortions, was shot to death while attending church. Dr Tiller’s clinic had been repeatedly vandalized over the last 35 years and in 1993 Tiller had been shot in both arms.
In 1998, alone, about 25% of 351 clinics surveyed experienced severe violence in some form. In January, a bomb exploded just outside a Birmingham, Alabama reproductive health clinic, killing an off-duty police officer and critically injuring a nurse. In April, a gasoline bomb damaged the Pacific Beach Clinic in San Diego, Calif. In May, foul-smelling butyric acid (which causes sickness and destroys carpets and furnishings) was thrown into eight Florida reproductive health clinics. Several people required hospital treatment. In July, butyric acid was again thrown into eight Texas and New Orleans reproductive health clinics. In September, two Women’s Medical Clinics in Fayetteville, N.C. were firebombed. In October, bombs were found at two reproductive health clinics in N.C. and a sniper killed abortion provider, Dr. Barnett Slepian. From November 1998 to March 1999, over 50 abortion clinics were evacuated and countless staff decontaminated after receiving “anthrax” letters.
Inflammatory words fuel terrorism
Behind all this domestic terrorism has been the inflammatory “baby-killing” rhetoric of the anti-abortionists. Their leaders, Christian ministries and pamphlets have cried out that Americans have murdered millions of innocent pre-born babies. Activists have picketed abortion clinics and homes of clinic doctors with signs reading “Blood Thirsty Child Killer,” “Baby Butcher” and “Death Doctor.” They’ve followed abortion providers to restaurants screaming “murderer” and “baby killer.” They’ve passed out literature equating doctors who perform abortions to those who ran the gas chambers in Nazi Germany. They’ve posted “Wanted Dead” posters and the names and addresses of clinic workers and doctors on hate-oriented web sites that celebrate violent actions. And even though the Bible is completely silent regarding elective abortions, some Christian fundamentalists have quoted scripture to prove that God’s will is being done when abortion doctors and staff are killed.
Prior to the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, Randall Terry of Operation Rescue had repeatedly called Tiller a “mass murderer” who was doing something that was “literally demonic.” And cable TV personality Bill O’Reilly had been fulminating about “Tiller the Baby Killer” on over 25 of his cable TV shows. O’Reilly attacked Tiller repeatedly as someone who would “kill a baby a half-hour before the baby is supposed to be birthed for no reason whatsoever other than the mother has a pain in her foot”. This was blatantly false. Furthermore, only one percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks and almost always because something has gone horribly medically wrong with a wanted pregnancy. (After the murder, O’Reilly publicly stood by his “facts”.)
Denial of responsibility
So, who’s to blame for inciting the last several decades of anti-abortion domestic violence and terror? The answer, of course, is anyone who has supported, encouraged, or tacitly condoned the use of inflammatory words and phrases. They must all share the blame for the bombings, murders and other acts of domestic terrorism. Christian Right leaders and various members of Congress have been demonizing and dehumanizing legal abortion providers for over 30 years. Yet they continue to vehemently deny having played any part in fanning the flames of this domestic terrorism. They deny that their “baby murderer” rhetoric is in any way responsible. Yet, throughout history people and entire nations have been incited by incendiary propaganda and speech to dehumanize other humans because of their skin color, religion, sexual orientation and so on.
Abortion doctors are disappearing
The number of abortion providers has been falling for decades. Many of them are near or past retirement age; they still remember the intense suffering of women back when abortions were illegal; they often wear bulletproof vests and live behind bulletproof windows; they are picketed and often shunned by their neighbors. Because of the constant inflammatory rhetoric, intimidation, acts of terrorism, plus feelings of isolation, poor pay and endless legal barriers erected, these older doctors are not being replaced. Today, only 7% of hospitals now provide abortion services nationwide, down from 80% in 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade. Today, 87% of all counties in the U.S. no longer provide abortion services. Today, it’s not unusual for medical students to complete four years of medical school without even having to discuss abortion, let alone to perform one or observe a procedure. To further exacerbate matters, many financially strapped hospitals have been taken over by Catholic-run institutions, which refuse to provide even Emergency Contraception for rape victims. So even though abortion still remains one of the most common surgical procedures among U.S. women, abortion choice is increasingly becoming a legal right in name only.
Wolkoff, R., “The Clash of Darkness and Light,” L.A. Times, 3/3/94. B8.
For further updates on anti-abortion terrorism check
 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” (Genesis 9:6). “If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:17; Exodus 21; Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19).
These leaders conveniently ignore the fact that the “Don’t Kill” Commandment didn’t protect those who were caught collecting firewood on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2), brides who were found not to be virgins on their wedding night (Deut. 22:13-21), and disobedient children who cursed their parents (Exodus 21:17; Lev.20:9; Deut.21:18-21). They were all to be put to death. This Old Testament god also vigorously demanded that all heretics be killed. Wives, children, brothers and close friends who tried to divert the faithful from this tribal god were to be stoned to death (Deut.13). The people of Samaria rebelled against this god and had their children “dashed to the ground” and their pregnant women “ripped open” (Hosea 13:16).
 Fighting back is a national organization known as Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) which now has chapters in over 100 medical schools and represents more than 3000 medical students nationwide. There is also an organization called Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health (
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