Extreme anti-abortion tactics are not a form of protest, but terrorism, Professor David S. Cohen and alumna Krysten Connon, ’12 wrote in an op-ed published by Al-Jazeera America on July 6.
The essay cites incidents of stalking and the widespread posting of photos of doctors superimposed with bull’s-eyes by anti-abortion extremists that Cohen and Connon describe in their book, “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism,” which Oxford University Press published in the spring.
“Anti-abortion extremists who engage in such threatening behavior — and too often, the media outlets that cover them — consider it part of protest of the larger issue of abortion,” Cohen and Connon wrote. “But these targeted threats are forms of terrorism that are meant to scare providers into stopping the provision of abortion services.”
The authors note that such a characterization of anti-abortionists’ activities is controversial, citing the withdrawal of two reports issued by the Department of Homeland Security in 2009, both of which concluded that the extreme tactics constitute terrorism.
“In the face of strong backlash from many different constituencies, including anti-abortion groups, DHS caved to public pressure and pulled both reports less than two months after they were released, claiming they were inadvertently released before being fully vetted,” the authors wrote.
The fact that eight abortion providers have been killed for their work since 1993 puts activities like death threats and posting of images of doctors’ faces in crosshairs in a clear context, Cohen and Connon said.
“The onslaught of such threatening behavior is rooted in the failure of anti-abortion forces to accomplish their ultimate political goal: ending abortion entirely,” they wrote.