Abortion is one of the most controversial topics you can start a discussion on. It has remained and will always be a divisive topic in the United States and worldwide. There are two stances one usually thinks of when discussing abortion. Supporters of abortion classify themselves as Pro-choice, their supporters believe that women have the right to contraception, abortion and conception. Basically they support and believe women have the right to make decisions regarding her body. Critics of abortion are defined as Pro-life, they believe that a fetus should not be destroyed. Often times pro-life groups even argue that abortion should be illegal, making abortion illegal could put millions of women at risk.
Many people find themselves in the middle of these two groups, in cases of rape they might agree that it is appropriate to proceed with an abortion, but religion can also teach that this is prohibited. This further adds to the conversation on abortion which complicates this topic tremendously. Planned parenthood and abortion clinics have been the frontline in this war on abortion, they have been the place of protest for the Pro-life group. The International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion has stated that more than 300 people wrote to the council describing the pro-life protesters as “intimidating and harassing.” Free speech allows you to use your voice and share your beliefs, but the argument that Pro-life supporters are harassing women is strong.
The negative impact Pro-life protesters have on women going to planned parenthood is astounding. A distraught woman who has been a victim of rape or a young teen facing the hard decision on proceeding with this procedure may have to endure the taunting, screaming, or just their lingering presence. This can negatively affect the women who are about to make a life changing decision. These “protests” have become so common, clinics offer escorts to provide patients moral support as they walk past protesters. As they make their way to the lobby of the clinic; they will encounter protesters that are praying, many with harsh signs, crude pictures, and others that will approach patients with yelling and harsh words. In states with limited laws regarding this issue, protesters are quick to inform patients and clinic workers that they have the right to be there, adding on to the stress a woman will endure.
Pro-life activists often use the law as another scare tactic to threaten clinics with litigation. Buffer zones are designated areas used to separate a hostile environment, but in this case people. Consequently, states with rising pro-life protesters outside of health clinics have tried to implement such a law, only to be struck down. This is seen as a violation of free speech on the pro-life side. In Roe vs Wade, the supreme court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny a woman the right to have an abortion, yet states like Texas create bills (Texas senate bill 5) that include many bans that make it harder for a woman to proceed with an abortion. Although some states have seemed to implement a form of a buffer zone, hostility has escalated. Political climate has many pro-life groups feeling emboldened, creating a rise in violence and hostility. In 2018, there were no attempted murders or acts of violence such as bombing. Yet, hate mail, harassing phone calls, and clinic invasions remained a pivotal tactic used by anti- abortion groups.
The National Abortion Federation reported that in 2017, health providers reported 62 death threats, raising the 2016 number of 33 threats to 62. Furthermore, The National Abortion Federation has reported “Protests and picketing remain a daily occurrence for many providers, with 78,114 incidents of picketing reported in 2017.” The many references on women’s health during the last election has also gave pro-life supporters the courage to take their efforts to social media. Social media activism is something many groups implement in order to spread information quickly. The National Abortion Federation conducted a social media disruption search and statistics showed a significant increase in online hate speeches.
In addition to Pro-life groups using free speech to continue their harassment, the level of violence has caused more than the loss of a fetus. According to the National Clinic Violence Survey, a new report finds that anti- abortion violence has been on a steady rise for the last 20 years. Anti-abortion terrorism peaked in the 90s as several shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence took the lives of doctors, police officers and even receptionists. Pro-life groups quickly denounced acts of wrong doing against clinics, yet rogue pro-life extremists have been caught committing arson, calling in bomb threats, and acid attacks. Eleven people in the United States have been murdered in attacks on abortion clinics. According to the National Abortion Federation Dr. David Gunn was the first doctor to be killed by an anti-abortion activist outside of his clinic in Pensacola, Florida in 1993.
Anti- abortion violence is not new to Pensacola. On Christmas day in 1984, two 21-year-old members of the First Assembly of God congregation bombed The Ladies center, they were also responsible for the first bombing of The ladies center 6 months prior to the christmas day bombing. They proceeded to bomb two more OBGYN offices, specifically targeting the doctors who occasionally performed abortions. The latest act of violence a pro-life extremist has committed was the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting. Robert Lewis Dear Jr. Killed a police officer and 2 civilians, and injuring 9. At his court appearance, he continuously interrupted court proceedings by shouting out anti-abortion views and referred to himself as a “warrior for the babies” His comments drew pro-life and pro-choice groups into a vicious frenzy due to his statements.
The “war” on abortion is like an everlasting fight that seems to be brewing longer and stronger than ever before. The front line to this war is exactly where it shouldn’t be, right in the faces of women who are faced with deciding whether to proceed with the procedure. Until rape ceases to occur, incidents of incest are put to a stop, and contraceptives are used unanimously; unwanted pregnancies will exist. A woman facing turmoil over her current situation doesn’t need a group of people violently harassing her to try to change her mind. The debate on whether pro-life group efforts to try to persuade women into carrying baby is harassment or freedom of speech is debatable and will probably stay that way for years to come. On final analysis it is determined that this topic will remain an issue that women, doctors, and clinic workers must face; but is the price of a women’s sanity and safety worth pushing your ideas?