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1994 Clinic Violence Survey Report

Death Threats Most Frequently Reported Type of Violence

Death threats were the most frequently reported type of violence in 1994. Almost one-quarter (24.8%) of clinics reported that staff members had been subjected to death threats during the first seven months of 1994.

Home picketing and stalking followed death threats as the types of violence most often experienced by clinic staff. Twenty-two percent (69) of clinics reported that their staff members were picketed at home and 17.8% (56) reported stalking.

Clinics sustained many other forms of violence at the clinic sites: 12.1% (38) of all clinics reported being subjected to blockades; 10.5% (33) were invaded; 13.1 % (41) received bomb threats; 3.8% (12) were bombed; 3.8% (12) received arson threats; 2.5% (8) sustained losses due to arson; 3.2% (10) were chemically attacked; and 1.9% (6) were the targets of gunfire. (See Table 3).

Table 3: Violence By Type During First Seven Months of 1994.

Vandalism also plagued clinics during the first seven months of 1994. Of the clinics surveyed, 34.8% reported acts of vandalism directed at their clinics. Vandalism included glue put in the locks of clinic doors, nails placed in clinic driveways and parking lots, paint on walls, broken windows and other incidents intended to destroy or deface clinic property or to interfere with the provision of services at the clinic. Additional acts of vandalism included tearing down and defacing signs and other clinic property, spilling water on walkways in order to freeze them during winter months, spreading tar in clinic parking lots, and scratching or "keying" staff cars.

Death Threats Increase Since 1994: Blockades, Invasions, Home Picketing and Chemical Attacks Decrease

Our survey found that during the first seven months of 1994 anti-abortion extremists have reduced blockades, invasions, home ticketing, and chemical attacks in favor of more violent strategies in comparison to the similar time period in 1993. The most personally threatening form of violence directed at clinic staff -- death threats -- increased significantly in 1994. At 14% (44) clinics, staff reported an increase in death threats compared with the first seven months of 1993. Only 4.8% (15) clinics felt that death threats had decreased. Almost half of the clinics (46.2%) reported that the level of death threats had remained the same. Death threats were the only type of violence for which clinics reported a greater increase than decrease. (See Table 4).

Table 4: Percentage of Clinics Reporting Increases and Decreases in Violence During First

View Table number 4

Blockades were the strategy which the highest number of clinics reported had decreased between the first seven months of 1993 and the first seven months of 1994. Twenty-three percent of clinics (73) experienced a decline in clinic blockades. This decrease in the use of clinic blockades can, in part, be attributed to the increasing effectiveness of abortion rights strategies to prevent blockades. Only 4.5% (14) of the clinics surveyed reported an increase in clinic blockades; many other clinics 49.4% (155) reported that the level of clinic blockades remained the same since 1993.

Of the clinics surveyed, 9.2% (29) reported a decrease in stalking, 46.5% of clinics said that the amount of stalking had remained the same, and 8.9% (28) reported that stalking had increased since 1993. Home picketing, another form of violence directed at staff members, was reported by 11.8% (24) of the clinics as having decreased. Almost half of the clinics, 47.5% (149) reported that home picketing stayed the same and 7.6% (24) reported an increase.

Violence directed at clinic buildings and property also experienced net decreases during the first seven months of 1994. Since 1993, 11.5% (36) of clinics reported a decrease in bombings, while 5.7% (18) clinics reported an increase in bombings. An even 50% reported that the level of bombings remained the same. Of the clinics, 6.7% (21) reported a decrease and 4.1% (13) clinics reported an increase in arson attacks; 49.7% (156) of the clinics reported that the level of arson attacks remained the same.

Since 1993, clinics reported decreases in invasions, chemical attacks and gunfire. According to the survey results, 10.2% (32) reported a decrease in invasions, while 50% (157) said that invasions stayed the same and 2.9% (9) clinics reported an increase in invasions. Decreases in chemical attacks since 1993 were reported by 12.1 % of clinics, with 1.9% (6) clinics reporting increases and 48.1% (151) of clinic saying the level of chemical attacks had stayed the same. Incidents of gun fire decreased at 3.8% (12) clinics and rose at 1.3% (4) clinic. Slightly over half (51%) of clinics surveyed reported that in 1994 the level of gunfire incidents had stayed the same.