What do they believe?

Anti-abortionists believe human life begins at the moment of conception; therefore, abortion at any stage of a pregnancy is murder and morally wrong.

Anti-abortion extremists take this belief to the extreme and often engage in acts of violence and vandalism. Some adherents, particularly those aligned with the extremist group Army of God, believe killing abortion providers is the only way to stop the procedure from being performed.

Acts of Violence

The first clinic arson was reported in 1976 and was followed by a series of bombings in 1978. Both acts of violence are still in practice today. Anti-abortion extremists have also used chemicals to block women’s access to abortion. Clinics have been vandalized with butyric acid and anthrax threat letters have been sent to frighten clinic staff.

In the early 1990s, anti-abortion extremists began murdering abortion providers. Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed by Michael Frederick Griffin in 1993. Gunn’s death is the first documented murder where the assailant’s stated intention was to stop a doctor from performing abortions. There have been 11 murders and 26 attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence since Genn’s murder. Several physicians have even been attacked in their own homes. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in his church in Wichita, Kansas. In 2015, a police officer and two people were killed when Robert Lewis Dear entered a clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The National Abortion Federation reports more than 176,000 instances of picketing at clinics (and nearly 34,000 arrests) since 1977. It has documented more than 16,000 reported cases of hate mail or harassing phone calls, over 1,500 acts of vandalism and 400 death threats. There have been more than 200 bombings and arson attacks at facilities offering abortion services.