Every time an incident of violence targeting abortion providers makes the news, most anti-abortion groups rush to condemn such violence.
These condemnations may not be internally consistent, but I believe they are sincere and I am glad to hear them, time after time.
Given that the repetition of this pattern over the years has clearly established a long record of opposition to such violence by such groups, I’d like to highlight for them an opportunity to condemn such violence before it occurs.
As Rachel Maddow recently reported, the radical clerics of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue have launched an online database listing the names of doctors who perform abortions, along with their photographs and home addresses. Maddow notes that this is not taking place in a historical vacuum:
So, this is the pattern, detailed wanted posters going up, the distribution of exact addresses and descriptions and photos and other specific information about a doctor, these posters distributed by anti-abortion extremists. And then the doctor gets assassinated. This is the pattern …
We interviewed a doctor in North Carolina a little more than a year ago who told us that he fear for his life after the same tactic was used against him. The poster with photo, and address and detailed information for a doctor who provides abortion services — this is a tried and trued means of intimidation for the extreme anti-abortion movement.
And because of all these past instances of the distribution of that kind of personal information about a doctor being followed by an extremist using violence against that doctor, this is a form of intimidation that has well-earned its intended terroristic effect. People who are brave enough to provide abortion services in this country are aware of the threat of violence that is implicit in anti-abortion extremists distributing the specific information — the information of how to find them, and what that doctor looks like when do you find them.
“This site is meant for informational purposes to aid in the end of abortion through peaceful, legal means,” the disclaimer says.
It is in no way meant to encourage or incite violence of any kind against abortion clinics, abortionists, or their staff. We denounce acts of violence against abortion clinics and providers in the strongest terms.
When the “informational purposes” of this databases lead, inevitably, to the very “acts of violence” that this disingenuous disclaimer claims to denounce, all of the more mainstream anti-abortion groups and spokespeople will rush to condemn that violence “in the strongest terms.”
It would be nice if some of them actually spoke up now — before that violence occurs, to condemn this database and call on Operation Rescue to take it down.