12.31.2007

terrorism you may not have heard about

On December 6 of this year, arsonists set fire to the offices of Dr. Curtis Boyd, an abortion provider in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In its statement after the attack, the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers, noted:
NAF has been tracking incidents of violence and disruption since 1977. In that time, there have been seven murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 100 butyric acid attacks, 656 anthrax threats, and 175 arsons including this most recent incident in New Mexico.

We hope that the suspect(s) responsible for this crime will be swiftly apprehended and convicted. The visible prosecution and conviction of anti-abortion criminals who engage in violence have led to a decrease in major acts of violence against abortion providers in recent years. However, last night’s arson is a reminder that we must remain vigilant in protecting women's access to reproductive health care and the safety of the dedicated health care professionals who provide that care.

Three weeks later, on December 27, there were two violent attacks at buildings belonging to Planned Parenthood of New Mexico: arson damaged a surgery center, and windows of a nearby family-planning clinic were smashed. From the New York Times:
The small, tightknit group of abortion providers here reacted with a mix of shock and fear over the attacks. In 1999, the same Planned Parenthood surgical center was set ablaze. An ex-convict, Ricky Lee McDonald, who has a history of violence against New Mexico abortion clinics, was found guilty in that attack and sent to prison.

. . . .

Dr. Boyd, who helped found the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, said: "After working on the abortion reform movement for 40 years, I wake up and I still can't believe we're still where we are. When will it stop?"

He and his wife, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, a past president of the National Abortion Federation who is a psychologist at the clinic, vowed to rebuild their operation. But they said it had been difficult to find a new location because landlords were wary of renting to an abortion provider.

"I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to die before the rights of women are secured, and the violence against providers and staff comes to an end," Dr. Boyd said.

A study issued last year by the Feminist Majority Foundation, which monitors attacks on abortion clinics, concluded that the most serious anti-abortion violence had declined since 1994, when federal legislation gave greater protection to providers and patients. According to the report, 18 percent of clinics experienced severe violence in 2005, compared with 52 percent in 1994.

Still, the report said, many clinics are still targets of extreme violence.

Dr. Boyd is the subject of the movie "Life Matters", about his days of performing abortions when it was illegal to do so in his home state of Texas. By coincidence, the producer and director of that film, Dr. Boyd's son Kyle Boyd, produced two educational videos that I wrote - although I didn't know of his connection to the reproductive rights movement at the time.

Many years later, when "Life Matters" came out, I was a coordinator for the Haven Coalition, and I saw Kyle's name on the film. He and his partner (also my producer) Charlotte Angel had moved to Brooklyn, and we discovered we had this mutual interest and passion.

When I saw Dr. Boyd's name in the news, I was frightened. He is a hero of the women's movement. I hope he is able to live out his natural life in peace.

4 comments:

Jere said...

It's good you call it terrorism because that's what it is, and it's important that people know that.

L-girl said...

Thank you, Jere.

Nigel Patel said...

I do very much worry about the safety of abortion providers after W. Bush leaves office.
Most of the shooting stopped once the lifers got their boy in the White House.
We should be paying as much attention to it is if they were doing it for Allah instead of Jesus.

Perhaps a rumor that Right to Life sits atop a huge cache of oil!

L-girl said...

Most of the shooting stopped once the lifers got their boy in the White House.

I disagree with your reading of cause-and-effect. The violence dropped because repro-rights activists succeeded in getting legislation through in many states that protected clinics, and because (as the NAF quote says) of several highly visible prosecutions and convictions with serious penalties.

Incidents of violence against clinics were much higher during Reagan and Bush I, precisely when the fetus-loving terrorists had their guy in the WH.