Quiet warfare

By JENNIFER L. POZNER  |  November 28, 2006

The attack caused $170,000 in property damage and left poor families without health care for a week. But long after Edgerton’s water-logged carpets are removed, scorched medical equipment replaced, and new doors reopened to the public, a culture of fear will linger among doctors, nurses, advocates, and patients across the country, who will worry they could be next. Some frightened workers will quit their jobs; some women will be too scared to get the health care they need.

Every fresh incident of anti-abortion terrorism is a reminder that women’s health supporters are not safe in a country where abortion is legal but mobilized zealots believe Jesus has empowered them to kill to prevent women from choosing it.

Is McMenemy a lone nut case, or a member of that network of violent extremists? We don’t know, because journalists haven’t investigated.

Nor have they reported that just last year, nearly one in five abortion clinics experienced gunfire, arson, bombings, chemical attacks, assaults, stalking, death threats, and blockades, according to the 2005 National Clinic Violence Survey. Additionally, 59 percent suffered intimidation tactics such as photo and video surveillance.

Federal efforts to hunt down these terrorists improved with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994 and the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers, established by the Department of Justice in 1998. The feds have taken over McMenemy’s case, charging him with arson against a business affecting interstate commerce. Yet as of October 5, no news outlet on Nexis reported this, despite a second AP story.

As we continue national debates on how to keep America safe from terrorism, journalists do us — and especially women — no good pretending that the threats come only from radical Muslims outside our borders.

This article, which originally ran as an op-ed in Newsday, is published by permission of the author. Jennifer L. Pozner is founder and executive director of Women In Media & News (wminonline.org), a national media analysis, education, and advocacy group.

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