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1995 Clinic Violence Survey Report

Table of Contents | Methodology | Key Findings | Violence Declines | Levels of Violence | Death Threats, Home Picketing, and Stalking | Decreases in Violence | One in Ten Clinics Lose Staff | One in Five Clinics Reported FACE Violations | Law Enforcement Response Improved | Levels of Violence Correlate with Law Enforcement Response | Legal Protectioins | Conclusions | Appendix A | Appendix B

One In Five Clinics Reported FACE Violations

One in five clinics (20%) surveyed said they had reported violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) to federal law enforcement officials - an increase in reports from 16.5% in 1994.

Enacted in May of 1994, FACE makes anti-abortion violence a federal crime. The Act provides federal jurisdiction and enacts specific federal penalties, including felony offenses and civil fines, for those convicted of using force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction against patients, health care workers, and clinics.

The federal government's enforcement of FACE increased substantially in 1995. According to the Department of Justice, the first full year of FACE implementation resulted in 133 criminal civil rights investigations, 15 indictments, and 15 convictions. Nine FACE civil actions were brought by the federal government. In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court also rejected the American Life League's challenge to the constitutionality of FACE.

Key events in FACE enforcement in 1995 included the conviction of Paul Hill for the 1994 murders of Dr. John Bayard Britton and clinic escort James Barrett and shooting of June Barrett. A possible murder of a physician was averted in August of 1995 when the FBI arrested Robert Cook, an anti-abortion extremist, who allegedly robbed an armed car of $260,000 and planned to use the money to Òfund a war against abortion.Ó Cook was arrested just days before he planned to start his war by killing an abortion doctor. Cook was convicted of FACE violations as well as larceny, money laundering, and solicitation.

While FACE enforcement steadily improved in 1995, federal officials were still reluctant to use FACE to address many instances of clinic violence. The 1995 survey found that the majority of FACE reports that clinics made to federal officials were referred to local law enforcement officials. Of the 62 clinics making FACE reports, 54.8% were told their claims should be handled under local and state laws. Almost one-fifth (19.4%) of clinics reporting FACE violations said that they were advised that federal authorities would not prosecute. Only 16.1% of clinics that reported FACE violations said that law enforcement officers provided clear directions for initiating formal FACE complaints. Only 14.5% of clinics reported that their FACE reports were formally investigated and just 12.9% said involved parties were officially interviewed. (See Chart 6.)

Very few clinics reporting FACE violations said their reports had resulted in civil or criminal action under the federal law. Reported FACE violations resulted in FACE criminal proceedings for only 8.1% of clinics. Only 4.8% of clinics that reported FACE violations pursued FACE civil action. U.S. attorneys initiated FACE complaints for 8.1% (25) of the clinics. Of the clinics surveyed, one won a FACE civil suit, three won FACE injunctions, and one clinic won FACE criminal charges.

For profit clinics were more likely than non-profit clinics or private doctors offices to report FACE violations. In 1995, 43.5% of FACE violations were reported by for profit clinics, with non-profit clinics accounting for 30.6% and private doctors offices accounting for 24.2% of FACE reports. This pattern represents a shift from the 1994 data which showed far more non-profit clinics than for profit or private doctors office facilities reporting violations of FACE.