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Tipsheet

Column Dismisses Violent Pro-Abortion Extremism As Pro-Lifers Face Surge of Attacks

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

There's been some pretty clear denial, especially lately, when it comes to the surge of violence that pro-life organizations and churches have experienced at the hands of radical pro-abortion extremists. Just last week, House Democrats overwhelmingly voted against pro-life initiatives, including a resolution that condemned such violence. Yet The Hill on Thursday still published a column from Tom Mockaitis claiming that "Anti-abortion violence is the next wave of domestic terrorism."

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Mockaitis is a history professor at DePaul University and the author of a book on the subject of violent extremists and domestic terrorists, so you would expect him to know better and do his homework.

While talking about a "new wave," though, Mockaitis uses examples of violence against abortion providers from decades before, in part to paint the picture of a need for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which was signed into law in 1994. There have been examples of violence since then, including the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller, who performed elective third-trimester abortions

Mockaitis does mention more recent examples, though with a rather selective lens: 

According to a report by the National Abortion Federation, assault and battery at clinics increased 128 percent from the previous year. Vandalism of clinics increased by 54 percent, bomb threats by 80 percent and stalking of clinic staff by 600 percent.  

Attacks continued throughout 2022. On March 23, an unknown assailant threw a Molotov cocktail at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Costa Mesa, Calif. In May, someone set fire to a clinic in Casper, Wyo.

The Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs. Wade did not end the violence. A week after the landmark ruling an arsonist set fire to a clinic in Kalamazoo, Mich. Police have arrested and charged a suspect for that crime.  

Antigovernment and white supremacist groups have embraced the anti-abortion cause. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, during the first six months of 2022, the Proud Boys engaged in counterprotests or harassed people “on at least 28 separate occasions at LGBTQ and reproductive justice events around the country.” 

Following the leak foreshadowing the Dobbs decision, armed members of groups that participated in the Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally and the Jan. 6 insurrection started appearing at demonstrations where protestors and counterprotesters confronted one another. On June 28, Proud Boys with assault rifles participated in a rally at the state capitol in Boise, ID.  

According to the Giffords Law Center, nearly 1 in 5 events focused on the abortion issue during 2022 “involved members of a far-right group.”

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When it comes to the leak of that Dobbs v. Jackson decision, which ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, Mockaitis makes zero reference to the illegal protesters that showed up outside the homes of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who didn't even vote with the majority. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the leaked draft opinion, had to leave his home. Further, someone is even facing federal charges for allegedly wanting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was since revealed that the suspect, Nicholas Roske, was going to potentially target two other conservative justices. 

While Mockaitis does reference pro-abortion violence, he does so in such a dismissive and selective way that it almost would have been better had he not done so at all:

Unfortunately, a spate of violence against institutions that oppose abortion occurred during the second half of 2022. From the Supreme court leak in May to the beginning of November, extremists carried out 122 attacks and threats against anti-abortion facilities and churches. Most were acts of vandalism, including spray painting graffiti, although five arson attacks occurred.

However, these incidents appear to be a temporary expression of rage rather than the beginning of a new extremist campaign. Planned Parenthood and 150 other reproductive rights groups have issued a joint statement unequivocally condemning the violence.

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These mere two paragraphs are not mentioned until almost the end of the article. Further, the numbers are not on Mockaitis' side in that pro-lifers were targeted at a higher rate than their counterparts. As of January 2, according to the Family Research Council, there have been close to 125 such incidents. 

A study released in October from the Crime Research Prevention Center (CRPC) showed that pro-life organizations were 22 more times likely to be met with violence than pro-abortion ones. 

Dr. John Lott of the CRPC released a statement about the study at the time it was released:

The overwhelming narrative in the media is the claim those on the right are responsible for most of the politically motivated violence in the US. It has been a theme in the news media after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was leaked, with many claiming that there was disproportionate violence against pro-choice providers. But a review of cases shows over 22 times more violence against pro-life advocates. 

The media has uncritically accepted pro-choice claims of violence without asking for a list of cases.

Despite so much more violence against pro-life advocates, the Biden Administration’s sole focus on the very rare violence against pro-choice providers ignores what appears to be a much more prevalent problem.

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Further, pro-lifers have condemned such violence as the illegal and morally wrong actions that they are. It is not pro-life to commit such violence, including and especially murder, with Mockaitis failing to properly include such condemnation in his column. The same cannot be said when it comes to the pro-abortion universally condemning that violence, no matter that Mockaitis has a mere joint statement from pro-abortion groups to include. 

When confronted with the examples of such violence, Democrats engage in whataboutism. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) offered perhaps the most noteworthy and inarticulate example from the House floor earlier this month when arguing against the resolution mentioned above.

While the resolution passed the House, it did so with only three Democrats voting in favor with all Republicans. 

Pro-abortion groups, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, also condemned the resolution. 

Such selective concern appears to come not only from columnists, but the Biden administration as well. 

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Jen Psaki, then the White House Press Secretary, made clear they cared more about Roe being overturned than they did about the leak, as did other Democrats. Further, Psaki also said that they "encourage" the protests. These protests by the way, were something that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even laughed about

Further, while the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday did announce two indictments for vandalism committed against pro-life organization, it's a move that comes off as too little too late. There have been over 100 incidents against pro-life organizations since a draft opinion for the Dobbs was leaked in early May of last year. 

Further, the DOJ is also going after pro-life activists, with the trial of one of them, Mark Houck, a father of seven and sidewalk counselor, taking place this week. Houck is being federally charged with violating the FACE Act, despite how local charges had been dismissed. 

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