a bird and a bottle

Terrorism Aimed At Women
December 5, 2006, 8:38 am
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, news

Last week, several news outlets ran an Op-Ed by Jennifer Pozner, the Founder of Women in Media and News, a very cool advocacy group that works to increase women’s voices in public debates. The article brings to light acts of terrorism that have been largely ignored by the media, including a man who drove his car into a women’s health clinic on 9/11/06, hoping to kill himself and everyone at the clinic.

Pozner writes:

Had the criminal, David McMenemy, been Arab or Muslim, this would have been headline news for weeks. But since his target was the Edgerton Women’s Health Center, rather than, say, a bank or a police station, media have not called this terrorism — even after three decades of extreme violence by anti-abortion fanatics, mostly fundamentalist Christians who believe they’re fighting a holy war.

Since 1977, casualties from this war include seven murders, 17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305 completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions, 482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats, 100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Abortion providers and activists received 77 letters threatening anthrax attacks before 9/11, yet the media never considered anthrax threats as terrorism until after 9/11, when such letters were delivered to journalists and members of Congress.

After 9/11, Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups received 554 envelopes containing white powder and messages like: “You have been exposed to anthrax. . . . We are going to kill all of you.” They were signed by the Army of God, a group that hosts Scripture-filled Web pages for “Anti-Abortion Heroes of the Faith,” including minister Paul Hill, Michael Griffin, and James Kopp, all convicted of murdering abortion providers, and a convicted clinic bomber, the Reverend Michael Bray. Another of their “martyrs,” Clayton Waagner, mailed anthrax letters while a fugitive on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list for anti-abortion related crimes.

It’s definitely worth reading the whole column for yourself, but I want to add a couple of things. First, the column mentions in passing that the attack left poor families without healthcare while the clinic was repaired. This important point highlights that anti-abortion rights protesters (and crazies like the man involved in the attack here) generally make a point to target already vulnerable women – most often those who are young, poor, or both. The clinic Pozner writes about accepts Medicaid and makes every effort to accomodate women regardless of their ability to pay. You won’t see protesters at the tony private women’s health clinics, but you will see them at many Planned Parenthoods – even right here in Manhattan.

Second, the fact that nobody in the media has reported on this (save, as Pozner notes, Keith Olbermann, the new hero of the Left) shows us something important (though perhaps obvious) about media and our society. Why don’t major media outlets care about terrorism perpetuated by a middle-American white man whose target is girls and women? If this happened at a Sbarro or even a general practicioner’s office, my guess is that people would care. But I think the real issue here is that the media is afraid to pick this up because – gasp – this clinic provides abortions. Apparently, the vitriol about abortion has obscured other important aspects in wome’s health and safety and has become such a political hot potato that no one – not even the so-called liberal media, wants to touch it. And politicans won’t walk the tightrope presented here, because either way they lose. They can make a stink about attacks like this one and protect women’s health (even that of women seeking abortions) while standing up against terrorism, or they can let this go and not worry about being seen as supporting women who choose abortion, even if it means a missed opportunity to get tough on terroism. Of course, they all choose the former.

Disheartening? Yes. Unexpected? Sadly, No.

via Jill at Feministe.


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