News Violence

Protest, Harassment, Terrorism—Regardless of the Name, It’s Wrong

Robin Marty

How can purposefuly trying to create fear in a person's home anything other than terrorism?

So-called “sidewalk counseling,” the practice of harassing women seeking abortions with non-medical, unwanted “advice,” and stalking the medical professionals and volunteers who assist them, has been praised by anti-choice believers and tolerated as much as possible by pro-choicers as an alleged freedom of speech.

But when those protests follow doctors home? How is that anything other than straight out harassment and potential terrorism?

A provider openly discusses the fear that both she and her family feel when anti-choice zealots follow her home into what should be her personal space.

Sending hate mail to my home is terrorism. Showing up outside a clinic administrators home and protesting outside of her house and coming on her property is terrorism. Calling a clinic landlord at home and comparing him to Hitler is terrorism. Shooting and killing a physician in his church or home is terrorism. These things happen and continue to happen in the world of abortion care. It is not OK.

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I don’t know how long it will take before I stop being nervous when I check my mail. I don’t know how long it will be before I stop worrying that when I drive up to my house it might be vandalized. I do know that I will not stop working in abortion care. I do know that I will continue to push back on the stigma around abortion care by talking publicly about my experiences. And I do know now that my neighbors have my back and are supportive regardless of how they feel personally about abortion. And that my friends and family will do anything to keep me safe– even send me links to video surveillance services and offer to stand guard outside my house.

If anything this random, ugly piece of hate mail brought a lot of love into my life. And I suppose I’m grateful for that. But it’s still not OK.

Sending thinly veiled letters threatening violence was seen by one judge as not a FACE act violation because the sender wasn’t representing a “true threat.” But how can harassment removed from a workplace and brought straight to a person’s home be construed as anything else?

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