January 22, 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing abortion throughout the United States. Always a controversial decision, Roe has only become more polarizing in American society over the last four decades, and has ignited legal, cultural and religious passions — often with violent and deadly consequences.
Abortion opponents, also known as self-styled “pro-life” activists, are by no means the only ones committing crimes in support of their cause. However, pro-life activists have committed — and continue to commit — some of the most heinous atrocities, including bombings, assassinations, murders, arsons and other crimes acts that may be deemed acts of domestic terrorism. Such crimes include:
- Oct. 22, 2012 — Abortion opponent stabs father of woman seeking abortion seven times in the neck and abdomen.
- April 2, 2012 — Abortion opponent firebombs clinic with homemade explosive device in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.
- January 1, 2012 — Abortion opponent firebombs a reproductive health facility in Pensacola, Florida.
- July 27, 2011 — Suspected abortion opponent firebombs abortion clinic with a Molotov cocktail in McKinney, Texas.
- May 25, 2011 — Abortion opponent charged with attempted intimidation by force, gun crimes and threatening to kill people at a Madison, Wisconsin women’s health clinic.
- March 2011 — Abortion opponent, claiming to be part of the anti-abortion group Army of God, receives a 30-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to providing bomb-making instructions to an undercover FBI informant whom he thought was going to bomb an abortion clinic in Greensboro, North Carolina.
- February 2011 — Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska consider bills declaring fetus’ persons and holding harmless persons who murder abortion providers as a “justifiable homicides.”
- September 2, 2010 — Abortion opponent throws a Molotov cocktail at a women’s health clinic in Madera, California, leaving behind a note that read, in part, “Let’s see if you can burn just as well as your victims.”
- April 5, 2010 — Abortion opponent, after writing to an abortion clinic “if I must use deadly force to defend the innocent life of another human being, I will,” charged in Plano, Texas for threatening to use deadly force against a women’s clinic in Dallas.
- May 31, 2009 — Abortion provider shot and killed by abortion opponent in a Wichita, Kansas church.
- Jan. 22, 2009: Abortion opponent purposely drives his truck into the front of a women’s health clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.
- April 25, 2007 — Homemade bomb placed Austin, Texas Women’s Health Center parking lot by abortion opponent.
- Oct. 23, 1998 — Physician fatally shot with a rifle in his home in Buffalo, N.Y by abortion opponent.
- Jan. 29, 1998 — Bomb placed by abortion opponent kills a police officer and wounds several others outside a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic.
- Jan. 16, 1997 — Two bombs planted by an abortion opponent injure seven people in an Atlanta building containing an abortion clinic.
- Dec. 30, 1994 — Abortion opponent uses a rifle to kill two receptionists and wound five others inside two Boston-area abortion clinics.
- Nov. 8, 1994 — Abortion opponent shoots physician, who performs abortions, in the leg as the physician eats breakfast at home.
- July 29, 1994 — Abortion opponent kills physician, physician’s volunteer escort and wounds escort’s wife outside a Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic.
- Aug. 19, 1993 — Abortion opponent shoots physician, who provides abortion services, in the arms while in a Wichita, Kansas abortion clinic parking lot.
- March 10, 1993 — Abortion opponent shoots physician to death outside Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic.
Abortion opponents are not the only ones to commit crimes related to the abortion issue. Subsequent articles in this series will discuss crimes committed by abortion proponents, as well as crimes committed against those who refuse, or undergo, abortion procedures.
Engaging In The Controversy Surrounding Roe v. Wade
As defined by the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, abortion pits a woman’s Constitutional “right to privacy, which includes a qualified right to terminate her pregnancy” against a state’s “legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life.”
In Roe, the Court provided for the first time a national framework for legal abortions. The case has been under attack in federal and state courts, legislatures and executive offices ever since. But unlike other controversial court decisions, the controversy over Roe shows no sign of abating. If anything, our nation’s people and political system seem to be polarizing around this issue. During the 1970s and 1980, views on abortion were largely a nonpartisan issue. Starting in the 1990s, however, “more Republicans believed abortion should be illegal than broadly legal (by a 21-point margin), while the reverse was true among Democrats (by 19 points).”
Abortion may also be the most important, as well as the most divisive, social and political issue in the United States today, at least among women. In a recent Gallup Poll, 39% of women in the 12 key swing states for Presidential elections named abortion as the most important issue facing women. Responding in an open-ended format, women ranked the issue of abortion above jobs, the economy, healthcare, and equal pay.
Ninety-three million eligible voters did not 2012, meaning that despite its importance, most voices are not being heard on the issue of abortion. If you would like to become more involved in this issue, you may get information to contact your federally elected officials here, contact a political advocacy group here, or register to vote here.
Guttermacher Institute | NARAL Pro-Choice America | National Conference of State. Legislatures | Americans. United for Life | Legal Information Institute
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