Walking the Gauntlet: Daily Harassment of Women Patients, Clinics, and Healthcare Workers

Harassment of Women Patients, Clinics, and Healthcare Workers

Walking the Gauntlet demonstrates the extreme tactics employed by the anti-abortion industry to intimidate patients, clinic staff and doctors in front of the clinic on a daily basis. These may appear to be ordinary protesters, but many are in fact trained operatives engaged in a systematic campaign to shut down access to women's health clinics.

The 2018 National Clinic Violence Survey asked clinics how often they experience anti-abortion activity, including protests and demonstrations. Nearly 24% of clinics reported that they experience anti-abortion activity at their facility on a daily basis. Another 38.9% reported that such activity occurs on a weekly basis. Thus, some 62% of women's health clinics nationwide experience frequent and regular anti-abortion activity. An additional 25% of clinics report occasional activity. This means that the overwhelming majority of clinics (87%) report experiencing some type of anti-abortion activity in the first half of 2018.

In addition to daily, weekly, and occasional harassment and intimidation of clinics, there are planned events targeting clinics by groups Operation Rescue, Operation Save America, Created Equal, and others. For example, in July 2018, Operation Save America targeted three clinics in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a week of hostile demonstrations. Some of the leaders who participated have said that women should be subject to criminal prosecution—even the death penalty—for accessing an abortion. One of the participants featured by march organizers was previously convicted of burning down a clinic.

Other anti-abortion extremist groups include Created Equal, which was founded in Ohio by Mark Harrington (formerly the leader of the Genocide Awareness Project for the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform) in 2011. Created Equal’s Killers Among Us Campaign (#KillersAmongUs) specializes in harassing and intimidating clinics and physicians. Created Equal creates and distributes WANTED-style flyers and posters with the photographs, names, and home addresses of physicians and the group has terrorized doctors at their homes in Ohio, New Mexico, California, and other states. Created Equal and Operation Rescue have joined together to sponsor demonstrations against abortion providers.

The Pro Life Action League was founded by Joseph Scheidler in 1980. Scheidler published in 1985 Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, a virtual how-to manual of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that contains instruction on how to "picket the abortionists' homes", "use 'inflammatory rhetoric'", and how to "get information from license plates."