News Violence

National Network of Abortion Funds Targeted in Cyber Attack

Teddy Wilson

"It's despicable that anti-choice terrorism knows no bounds," said Laurie Bertram Roberts, board president of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. "They feel emboldened to harass patients at clinics, stalk and harass doctors and clinic staff and their new weapon is cyber terrorism."

The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) on Thursday was the target of an apparent cyber attack, as emails with anti-choice messages were sent from NNAF’s email address to donors and supporters of the organization.

Thursday’s attack marked the second one this week, according to a NNAF statement emailed to Rewire.

One email included an image of a fetus and an infant with a thought bubble that included the words “I hope I grow up big enough to go bowling someday.” The statement was an apparent reference to the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon fundraising campaign.

The campaign raises money through a series of events sponsored by local abortion funds. The funds are used to assist those who need access to abortion care. The campaign’s website has been “down for maintenance” since the apparent email hacking.

Another email told supporters of a “breathtaking announcement” and directed recipients to a “magical link” to view what the fundraising efforts were going toward. The link redirected recipients to a Priests for Life web page.

NNAF told Rewire in a statement that anti-choice activists have hacked the Bowl-a-Thon website twice this week, and the site is down for continued security maintenance. “We are aggressively investigating this attack with cyber security professionals and law enforcement. Our highest priority is keeping our community of abortion funders safe,” NNAF said.

“It’s despicable that anti-choice terrorism knows no bounds,” Laurie Bertram Roberts, board president of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, told Rewire in an email. “They feel emboldened to harass patients at clinics, stalk and harass doctors and clinic staff and their new weapon is cyber terrorism.”

Cyber attacks by anti-choice activists have become a growing concern for reproductive rights advocates in recent years. 

In August 2015 there was an attempt to hack the Planned Parenthood website, a platform that hosts the organization’s regional and local websites. The cyber attack caused disruption to patient care since many patients use the online appointment scheduling system.

Roberts said that her organization will not be deterred. “They won’t stop our fund from funding abortions or doing our other work,” Roberts said. “If I have to collect donations old school I can and will.”

While the NNAF fundraising campaign websites have been affected, donations can still be made to NNAF’s individual abortion funds.

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