The alarming ferocity of the seditious rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol continues to shock millions of Americans. Sadly, for those of us who work in the pro-choice health care movement, this is an all too familiar scene. It is the continuation of a decades-long history and only the latest nationally publicized example of extremist violence in our country.
To date, anti-choice extremists have murdered 11 Americans who worked in abortion care. My former boss, Dr. George Tiller, was executed at a peaceful Sunday morning church service. Anti-choice extremist Cheryl Sullenger, who had harassed Dr. Tiller for years and was convicted of bomb-making in the 1980s, had an affiliation with the gunman who murdered him. In January, Sullenger, along with former President Donald Trump and 70,000 others, had their accounts suspended from social media due to her statements during the recent insurrection.
For those of us dedicated to the pro-choice cause, the threat of violence—both at work and home—is always looming. It is constantly hanging over our heads, while spreading like wildfire throughout social media. It forces us to alter our driving routes to work and school drop-offs. It profoundly influences our personal lives and how we welcome patients at our clinics seeking a safe, legal, and personal medical procedure. Acts of intimidation like these left unchecked, have frequently led to devastating violence in our country.