FBI Suggests Clinic Escorts Could Pose Domestic Terrorism Threat

(Photo: Lorie Shaull, Flickr Creative Commons)

Training material produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for local law enforcement in 2017 lists pro-choice activists, and especially advocates who volunteer at abortion clinics as patient escorts, as a domestic terrorism threat akin to that posed by to pro-life extremists.

Anna Merlan first reported for Jezebel that briefing documents the FBI gave to local law enforcement agencies in 2017 warned officials about a potential domestic terrorism threat purportedly posed by “pro-abortion extremists.” The documents, acquired by the nonprofit government transparency group Property of the People, issued this warning while also conceding that “pro-abortion” extremists don’t exist in a violent capacity, save for one person who acted independently of any advocacy group.

“Both pro-life and pro-choice abortion extremists engage in criminal activity and seek to further their ideology, wholly or in part through force or violence,” the training material dated January 4, 2017, states. However, the document does clarify: “Pro-choice extremism is not considered a movement to the extent of pro-life extremism. Only one pro-choice extremist has been prosecuted, and that person acted independently and without any direct affiliation to a pro-choice group.”

The document obtained by Property of the People describes “extremism” in the pro-choice movement to belong to those who “believe it is their moral duty to protect those who provide or receive abortion services.” This would include clinic escorts who volunteer their time to walk clinic staffers and patients into clinics to help ensure their comfort and safety.

Property of the People states on its website that the document demonstrates “an especially egregious case of ‘bothsidesism’” by suggesting that the pro-choice movement is an equal threat to the “the extreme anti-abortion movement.”

Anti-abortion extremists have a long track record of violent acts against abortion providers that include bombingsmurders, attacks, and clinic vandalism. An industry survey in 2017 found that abortion clinics have experienced a major increase in incidents of trespassing, obstruction, and blockades in recent years, CBS News reported.