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Tag: abortion protesters

Police And Right-Wing Violence Raise Concern Over Abortion Protests

Violence against pro-choice protestors has been a widespread occurrence at pro-abortion demonstrations sweeping across the nation since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and tossed the issue of reproductive rights to the states.

As hundreds of thousands of Americans take to the streets to demand restoration of abortion rights, several violent incidents have sparked fears of broader attacks..

Arizona police fired teargas at protestors outside the state capitol and Los Angeles police were filmed throwing activists and members of the press to the ground at protests. Six people were arrested in South Carolina after protesters attempted to intervene when one was being arrested.

Ten protesters were arrested in Oregon after the police cracked down on a so-called “Night of Rage” supporting abortion rights.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa the driver of a pickup truck drove into a crowd of abortion rights protestors, leaving one woman hospitalized. A Republican state senate candidate punched his female Democratic competitor in the face at a Providence, Rhode Island abortion rights demonstration. He subsequently was arrested and dropped out of the race.

Jennifer Rourke, the Democrat he assaulted, said, “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up.”

Summer Of Discontent?

Los Angeles organizers from the group RiseUp4AbortionRights along with other activists have called for a “day of mass disruption. Supreme Court Justices, state capitol buildings, and leadership from both parties have also been the target of sustained protest and demands for action.

While the situation in some ways echoes the 2020 George Floyd protests that swept the nation to demand racial justice and an end to police brutality, thus far the scale of protest has remained smaller. Meanwhile law enforcement authorities have responded swiftly to protect public buildings and officials.

The National Guard set up a barricade around the Arizona state capitol; a large fence and snipers can be spotted at the Supreme Court; and police have reacted with force to protesters in other cities.

But there is no indication that protestors and organizers intend to give up. Said actor Jodie Sweetin, who made headlines for being slammed to the ground by police at an abortion rights protest in Los Angeles: “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

How Far Will They Go?

Beyond the response to protests from local authorities, there are also fears of a violent reaction by militia groups and far-right individuals.

Several protests have seen clashes and scuffles between abortion rights activists and counter-protesters. The Rhode Island incident allegedly started as a disagreement between two demonstrators.

In 2020, Black Lives Matters protesters saw a violent reaction from far-right groups, which led to the incident where teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them.

Thirty-one white nationalists were arrested after a concerned civilian tipped off authorities to their plans. The Patriot Front group was en route to a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, allegedly to instigate a riot with smoke grenades and shields.

The spike in white nationalist activity goes hand-in-hand with the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe, weaponizing the Christian faith to limit the rights of women. As to how far the Republican Party is willing to go, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert told a crowd at a local church, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

Abortion Foes Try A Local Approach

By Brad Cooper, The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — David Shepard knew he would grapple with a string of tough issues when he ran for mayor of Mission, Kan.

Redevelopment. Streets. Storm water.

But abortion?

Shepard fell 16 votes short in last April’s election after his opponent was endorsed by Kansans for Life, which sent out postcards backing his rival.

The city councilman still scratches his head. He wonders just what abortion had to do with presiding over a Kansas City suburb.

“It seems misplaced to me,” Shepard said.

Not to anti-abortion groups. They say no race is too local, no office too small, to make sure voters know where a candidate stands.
America’s long-standing civil war over abortion grows more local all the time.

Sometimes the fights — in races as obscure as those for water district board — aim to make sure a candidate with an opposing abortion view never gets a toehold in politics.

Sometimes control of a city council or zoning board can determine whether and where a particular abortion clinic might operate.
Other times, the battles simply reflect the desire to fight abortion on all fronts. After all, it springs from an issue that many see as nothing less than a life-and-death matter.

“Pro-life people want to know,” said Mary Kay Culp, the executive director of Kansans for Life. “They certainly want to know when it comes to voting. When we don’t tell them, they call us.”

But the abortion issue is surfacing in local government in a variety of ways.

Earlier this month, Kansans for Life persuaded the Johnson County Commission to delay appointing a chief public health adviser. The group was upset about testimony he gave in support of a physician associated with late-term abortion provider George Tiller.

About the same time, the Saline County, Kan., Commission rejected a $6,000 state grant for contraceptives after one member of the panel compared intrauterine devices to murder. A commissioner opposed to abortion thought the contraceptive would abort a pregnancy, an argument local health officials disputed.

Last fall, Albuquerque, N.M., voters rejected a ballot measure seeking to ban abortions after 20 weeks. The referendum, which drew thousands of campaign workers from outside the state, was believed to be the first in the country for a municipality.

Abortion opponents say local government — not necessarily Congress or the statehouse — is fertile ground for stopping abortion.

“That is definitely the push, that’s definitely where we’re going to win,” said Troy Newman, the president of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Newman claimed victory last year when city zoning rules were used to effectively close Virginia’s busiest abortion clinic in Fairfax.
Needing new office space to comply with state regulations for abortion providers, the clinic looked to move. But it was denied a permit at its new location because parking wasn’t adequate.

Fairfax later amended its zoning rules to define abortion clinics as medical facilities, meaning they would need city council approval. Under the old rules, abortion providers didn’t need council approval.

“There are a lot of pro-life organizations focusing on Washington, D.C., but where has that gotten us the last 40 years?” Newman said. “Where we are making communities abortion-free is at the local level.”

Not always. Last year, abortion opponents tried using zoning to stop the reopening of the Wichita abortion clinic Tiller ran before he was shot to death in 2009.

Kansans for Life handed the city petitions with 14,000 signatures seeking to change the zoning so abortions couldn’t be provided at the site. Ultimately, operators of the abortion clinic prevailed, opening the facility in April 2013.

Some suburban leaders don’t see the relevance of abortion to city government. They say it is about paving streets, caring for parks, and ensuring adequate police and fire protection.

Abortion opponents counter: Just because local government doesn’t directly regulate abortion doesn’t mean it can’t play a role. Today’s local water board member could be tomorrow’s state senator voting on abortion bills.

For instance, Kansans for Life in 2007 endorsed then-state Rep. Rob Olson of Olathe for a spot on the Johnson County water district board.

In 2011, Olson was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate and elected to a full term a year later. He opposes abortion.

“It’s about political advancement,” Culp said. “You make sure your guys advance to the next level.”

Some of the local pressure is coming from abortion rights supporters.

In Portland, Maine, the city is defending a legal challenge to a 39-foot buffer zone keeping protesters at a distance from a local Planned Parenthood clinic.

Abortion protesters are trying to block the law in court. A federal judge heard arguments in the case Thursday but let the law stand until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a similar case from Massachusetts.

Cities have stepped into the abortion issue before, most notably with regulations approved in 1978 by Akron, Ohio. The city’s law required parental consent for minors seeking an abortion and a 24-hour waiting period for the procedure, among other things.

The Supreme Court struck down the Akron law in 1983. But many of its provisions, including parental consent and the waiting period, were found to be constitutional by the high court a decade later.

Glen Halva-Neubauer, who studies abortion politics at Furman University, said the latest flurry of abortion activity might be a return to the past.

“It’s another renaissance of local activity,” Halva-Neubauer said. “It does seem like a lot of things going on. The question is what’s driving that.”

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

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