Last year, as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade led to major protests nationwide, the FBI opened nearly 10 times as many investigations into cases of abortion-related domestic terrorism as it had in 2021, a new internal report says. While the report doesn’t say how many of these incidents were motivated by support for reproductive rights and how many were anti-abortion, the uptick follows calls by top Republicans in Congress for the bureau to pursue “pro-abortion terrorism,” The Intercept reports. “Pro-abortion terrorism is sweeping our nation,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote last June, lamenting that “only after the outcry from the pro-life community did the FBI announce an investigation” into Jane’s Revenge, a small group of activists that firebombed an anti-abortion pregnancy center on June 7, 2021, and that Attorney General Merrick Garland “has yet to launch a wider DOJ investigation.” While no one was killed or seriously injured, Rubio said, “Things will only get worse before they get better.” Rubio cited roughly 50 attacks on anti-abortion activists and institutions, linking to a list posted by the anti-abortion Family Research Council. Apart from the actions of Jane’s Revenge, most of the cases enumerated describe simple vandalism.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) similarly urged the bureau to go after so-called pro-choice extremists. As vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and then-ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, respectively, both of which oversee the FBI, Rubio, and Grassley were both in a position to influence bureau leadership, and it looks like the bureau listened. The FBI’s abortion-related terrorism investigations jumped from three cases in the fiscal year 2021 to 28 in 2022, a higher increase than any other category listed, according to the Department of Justice's inspector general. The number of abortion-related cases in 2022 far exceeds that of all previous years included in the audit, going back to 2017. The report does not specify motivations for the cases but in testimony before the Senate in 2022, FBI director Christopher Wray said the majority of investigations are focused on violence against anti-abortion individuals or organizations. However, experts say the vast majority of serious violence in abortion-related cases is carried out by individuals trying to stop people from having abortions. Michael German, a former FBI agent and a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice, said he was not aware of a single case of serious bodily injury caused by abortion rights advocates, "There is a long history of deadly anti-abortion violence in this country,” German said. “The FBI should not devote counterterrorism resources to vandalism cases that don’t threaten human life out of some flawed notion of parity."