Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review - Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism (Baird-Windle)

Cross-posted at Ode to Patriarchy

So as part of my work on the National Clinic Access Project was reading up on the history of violence against abortion providers, clinics, staff, and patients. The book I was given was Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism by Patricia Baird-Windle and Eleanor J. Bader. Starting in the 1960's and tracking up until the book was published in 2001, Targets of Hatred recounts the major events regarding clinic violence and harassment (wins and losses).

While most people know or remember individual events, few are aware of the massive amounts of simultaneous battering that clinics faced. From stalking charges, to bombings, to cancelled insurance policies, to legislative losses and of course death threats, murder attempts, and murders clinics and their employees were denied refuge where ever they went. Many burned out after the threats increased in fury and hatred.

One of the most important messages from this book is that cooperating law enforcement is absolutely essential to a clinic's safety. Clinics that had a positive relationship with impartial local law enforcement that enforced injunctions against the antis who violated them had less violent activity from protestors and/or were able to recover more quickly from attacks. On the other hand, lazy, biased and involved reactions from law enforcement only served to encourage illegal activities by antis. Even though the police are there to enforce the law, doesn't mean they always do.

But by far, the best aspect of this book for me was the personal accounts of those affected. It's one thing to hear that two people died in a clinic shooting, it's another to read someone's story of actually being there when it happened. They have accounts of day to day death threats, worries concerns, fears, and victories. There's a lot of talk about what clinics and providers need, but not always do you directly from those affected. It's no longer just a part of abortion history, it's real life.

The book was published in 2001, and since then there have obviously been a few big updates needed. Kopp was convicted in 2003, Dr. George Tiller was murdered, the Stupak Amendment was included in HCR, and state-by-state, limitations to access abortion have become rampant. As a third wave/radical/difference feminists, we have to educate ourselves on what our history is and what's happening now. You can follow the escalating violence in the novel; it's no surprise that we are where we are today with another murder and restricted access.

We also have to be the front-runners in approaching clinic violence for what it really is: terrorism working in terrorist cells. Not every protestor is part of the terrorist network, many do not condone violence against providers as a way to stop abortion. However, the proof is there. We're not just talking clinic blockades (which violate FACE), we're talking FIREBOMBS, EXPLOSIVES, SHRAPNEL BOMBS, and SNIPER EXECUTIONS. If we're supposedly fighting a war on terror, why aren't we investigating the Army of God which has a MANUAL ON HOW TO ATTACK CLINICS AND THE PROVIDERS, and has also been connected to the murderer James Kopp (Dr. Slepian 1998), Scott Roeder (Dr. Tiller 2009) and numerous attempted murders, firebombs, and acid attacks? That many of the people connected to it are advocates for "justifiable homicide" against providers, clinic administrators, and pretty much anyone associated with a clinic? How is any of it different from a terrorist cell?

Because we, as a nation, choose not to treat it as such.

Photo-credit: MacMillan, also where you can purchase the book - http://us.macmillan.com/targetsofhatred

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