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Campaign of Terror

[whitespace] illustration Warning shot: Anti-abortion hate mail sent to medical professionals.

From snail mail to the internet, hate finds its way

By Janet Wells

QUACK THE RIPPER: News from the Red Light District of Medicine," part of an onslaught of hate mail and other anti-abortion assaults, is the latest salvo in the abortion war to hit the mail boxes of Sonoma County doctors this month. Thousands of physicians and medical students around the country have also received the crudely stapled booklet, rife with childish cartoons and rude jokes. ("How is an abortionist like a sperm? Only one in a million will be a human being.")

Aimed at intimidating those who provide--or plan on providing--abortions, Life Dynamics Incorporated's goal is to send 100,000 such mailers to the medical community at least four times a year "to reinforce the stigma attached to abortion," says the Texas-based group's website.

LDI's tactics are tame compared to the Nuremberg Files, a website that was shut down last month after a federal grand jury in Portland, Ore., ordered the site creators to pay $107 million for inciting violence against abortion providers and their patients.

The site, complete with dripping-blood graphics, checked off slain and injured abortion providers and recorded the names and personal information of hundreds of doctors and clinic workers (including home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and information on spouses).

The decision isn't stopping abortion foes from continuing intimidation with a personal touch. A Santa Rosa primary-care physician says that a patient in her office recently received anonymous e-mail saying that her doctor provided abortions. Medical records are confidential, and the alarmed patient wondered how anyone could determine the identity of her doctor. The patient, who is Christian, apparently was not upset at the services offered by her doctor, but was concerned for her doctor's safety.

One Petaluma doctor says mailers and other tactics have served mostly to deepen her commitment to providing abortions. But, she adds, she does look over her shoulder more often. "Doctors are fucking scared of doing abortions," says the family-practice physician, who asked not to be identified. "As an abortion doctor, you definitely feel you are out on a limb already. Then this," she says. "It's not that particular mailer, but an accumulation.

"I know doctors who have been shot."

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From the February 25-March 3, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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