Assaults directed at abortion clinic staff and patients increased 128 percent last year over 2020, says a new report from the National Abortion Federation (NAF), Axios reports. Heated political rhetoric, the passage of more restrictive state abortion bans and increased media coverage factored into the increase in violence, emboldening those "who want to harass and terrorize abortion providers," said the federation's Melissa Fowler. Beyond the surge of assaults outside of clinics, NAF documented a six hundred percent increase in stalking, a sixty three percent increase in burglaries and a one hundred twenty eight percent increase in invasions, including instances in which anti-abortion protesters forcefully entered clinics. Anti-abortion protesters are "feeling supported by politicians who are coming right out and speaking their anti-choice views, and so ... they feel supported in committing acts of violence and targeted harassment," said Michelle Davidson, NAF security director.
The federation said those targeting abortion clinics are often the same people who participate in other violent and extremist activities. There is an overlap between white nationalists and the anti-abortion movement, with some individuals who have targeted abortion clinics also having participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The new numbers come as the federal government prepares for a potential surge in political violence once the Supreme Court hands down the ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade. Law enforcement agencies are investigating social-media threats to burn down or storm the Supreme Court building and murder justices and their clerks, as well as attacks targeting places of worship and abortion clinics.