1994 Clinic Violence Survey Report
In 1994, death threats against health care workers providing abortion services reached an all-time high. Death threats were the most frequently reported type of violence, the form of violence that most increased since last year's survey, and the type of violence that increased the most seriously after the July 1994 murders of Dr. Britton and James Barrett in Pensacola, Florida. Other forms of violence experienced some decrease in 1994. But overall clinic violence continued unabated: over half of clinics in the survey reported one or more forms of violence.
Unless law enforcement officials at local, state, and federal levels improve efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of this violence, anti-abortion extremists will continue to terrorize clinic staffs. Clinic services, which include a wide range of gynecological and other treatments in addition to abortion, will continue to be disrupted.
The survey findings illustrate that law enforcement response is correlated with the commission of certain acts of clinic violence. In other words, poor law enforcement response creates a climate in which anti-abortion violence flourishes. Conversely, effective law enforcement response prevents the escalation of violence at clinics.
Law enforcement now has the tools to end the reign of terror at clinics. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was uniquely crafted to provide federal law enforcement officials with the jurisdiction and penalties to combat the most threatening type of violence that clinics in this survey report: death threats.
Moreover, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions upholding the use of RICO to prosecute concerted efforts to close clinics and upholding clinic buffer zones provide clinics and law enforcement officials at all levels strong tools to stem clinic violence. Vigorous investigation and prosecution of FACE and other local, state, and federal legal mechanisms is necessary to protect the lives of health care workers and women's health care services.