Workers World 1/19/95

By Rebeca Toledo

In the past decade, 150 women's health clinics in the U.S. have been 
attacked by right-wing, anti-choice forces. These attacks have 
ranged from arson fires and physical assaults to murders.

Health-care providers from doctors to clinic receptionists have been 
the targets. Five people have been shot to death in the past two 

In December, the Feminist Majority Foundation made public a study 
showing that 52 percent of clinics surveyed had experienced some 
violence during the first seven months of 1994. In Pensacola, Fla., 
two doctors and one escort had been killed by anti-abortion 

Yet each time such a horror occurs, government officials explain it 
as the work of a loner acting on his own.

However, press reports show that John Salvi, the accused gun wielder 
in three separate attacks on women's health clinics in Brookline, 
Mass., and Norfolk, Va., did have links to anti-choice forces. He 
had attended meetings of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and a 
receipt bearing that name was found in his truck.

Salvi was only marginally employed. He even failed to pick up his 
last paycheck. Yet he was carrying over $1,000 in cash when he was 
finally arrested in Norfolk on Jan. 1.

The phone number of Rev. Donald Spitz, the director of Pro-Life 
Virginia, was found in Salvi's apartment in New Hampshire. Spitz is 
a notorious advocate of killing pro-choice activists. He stood 
outside Salvi's jail cell in Norfolk shouting, "We love you. Thank 
you for what you did in the name of Jesus."

Many in the pro-choice movement are asking what Salvi's connections 
are to the anti-abortion groups. Yet the government also describes 
Salvi as a loner, perhaps deranged. He has pleaded "not guilty" to 
the murders and is expected to use an insanity defense.


To get a clearer idea of the lack of government and media reaction 
to this assault on women, consider this question: What if 150 banks 
had been attacked instead of 150 women's clinics?

Would government officials be saying they see no evidence of 
conspiracy? Would they be saying the attacks were isolated 
incidents? Would they casually call for calm on both sides--that of 
the bankers and of the bombers?

No, in that case Chase Manhattan, Citibank and their ilk would be up 
in arms. And Clinton, Gingrich and the whole gang would join 
together and order the Justice Department, the FBI and every local 
police force to take action.

The capitalist government will go to any length to protect and 
defend the rich and propertied class and its real estate, not only 
in the United States but all over the world.

When U.S.-based corporations--or even their long-term financial 
interests--are threatened in Haiti, Somalia, or the Persian/Arabian 
Gulf, they call on the Pentagon. It's called "national security."

What about women's security? Women and their supporters are being 
told by the right wing that if they even dare to enter an abortion 
clinic they will face death. Yet Attorney General Janet Reno's first 
response to these killings was that the federal authorities haven't 
got the wherewithal to protect the clinics.

The big-business media, which would be in an uproar if banks were 
the targets, are relatively silent. It would be easy enough to show 
how dangerous the anti-abortion zealots are and how they are 
comforted by the whole right-wing movement against choice.

Along with Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing bigots, 
the Catholic Church hierarchy plays a role comforting the 
"right-to-life" death squads. John Cardinal O'Connor, archbishop of 
New York and a long-time rightwinger, addressed the abortion issue 
in his homily of Jan. 8.

He didn't even denounce the murders of the two women in Brookline. 
He didn't call for a moratorium on anti-choice protests, as his 
counterpart in Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law, was forced to do.

O'Connor stated that he will call no moratorium against clinic 
demonstrations unless there is first a moratorium on abortions. He 
went on to praise Bishop Thomas Daily, who leads monthly protests 
against women's health  clinics in Brooklyn.

This is the so-called moderate anti-abortion movement. It calls 
itself "Right to Life," but it gives comfort to death squads.

Women's clinics exist because of the need for women-focused health 
care. It is no secret that women's health issues are not given much 
weight in this bourgeois society. However, besides providing 
abortions, women's clinics deliver substantial overall health care 
for women of all ages, for lesbians, and especially for low-income 

It is up to women and their supporters to defend their own rights. 
Through protests in the streets, women secured the right to safe, 
legal abortions in the first place. Current protests of the clinic 
murders have awakened widespread support from the population.

What was won 22 years ago on Jan. 22, 1973, with the Roe vs. Wade 
decision can be defended with continued struggle today.


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