Professor David S. Cohen and alumna Krysten Connon were guests on WHYY's Radio Times on June 1 discussing their new book, “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism,” which features accounts by abortion providers - the doctors, nurses, clinic administrators and volunteers in abortion clinics across the U.S. - who work under the threat of anti-abortion protestor violence.
The book, released in May by Oxford University Press, is based on interviews Cohen and Connon conducted with nearly 90 doctors, nurses, clinic and hospital administrators and volunteers in 35 states and book provides a compendium of chilling tales, from the burning of a home to the posting of “wanted” posters and personal information on the Internet.
Cohen reflected on the book's title and its reference throughout to anti-abortion protestors acts as terrorist acts. "There is . . . this undercurrent of terrorism that abortion providers face and people don't usually talk about it as terrorism . . . we use that term very intentionally because the people who are part of the extremist wing of the anti-abortion movement really play on the fact that there has been violence and destruction and crime in the past, including eight abortion providers who have been murdered . . . to create this sense of fear, this sense of lack of physical safety for abortion providers, in a way to try to change something they have not been able to change through the normal political process - and that's the normal definition of terrorism," Cohen said.
Connon, who interviewed numerous abortion providers for the book, recounted that the work was inspired by a case she worked on while a student at the law school. In that case, Connon represented an abortion clinic provider being sued by abortion protestors. Connon recalled the abortion clinic director involved in that case feeling so threatened by anti-abortion protestors that she wore a bullet proof vest to work every day. Connon later discovered, during the course of the litigation, that the abortion protestors were using the lawsuit to out more information about the abortion providers for future harassment. This provided the impetus for her work in the book, Connon told Moss-Coane.
Cohen and Connon's book was also featured in a May 18 article in Rolling Stone. There, Cohen and Connon recalled similar stories of anti-abortion terrorism.
David S. Cohen’s scholarship explores the intersection of constitutional law and gender, emphasizing sex segregation, masculinity, and violence against abortion providers. He also researches voting anomalies in the Supreme Court. Krysten Connon is an alum of the law school and an attorney at the law firm of Pepper Hamilton practicing commercial litigation.