Repro Roundup: Man convicted of bombing abortion clinics is fighting his convictions

Steph Black
3 min readOct 8, 2020

Welcome to my column, The Repro Roundup, where I summarize abortion news happening around the country, why it matters, and what you can do about it — in 250 words or less.

What’s the issue? Though he pleaded guilty to fatally bombing two abortion clinics, a lesbian bar, and the 1996 Olympics, a terrorist is now claiming he deserves either the chance to withdraw his guilty plea or have a new sentencing hearing because bombings of similar nature are no longer federal crimes, the AP reported on October 2nd. In 1997, the terrorist set off a bomb at a suburban-Atlanta abortion clinic that killed. In 1998, he set off a bomb outside of a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic that killed police officer Robert Sanderson and critically injuring a nurse, Emily Lyons. His bombs were made with nails that created shrapnel.

The terrorist was a fugitive from 1996 until he was arrested in 2003. In 2005, he pled guilty to the Birmingham bombing and was sentenced to life in prison. He is now contesting this plea in court.

Why does this matter? Clinic violence is an epidemic. G. Davidson Smith of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service defined anti-abortion violence as “single-issue terrorism.” Clinics, clinic staff, patients, and clinic volunteers are constantly under threat of violence from anti-choice terrorists like this one. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2018 National Clinic Violence Survey found that 23.8% of the clinics surveyed experience at least one incident of violence or threat of violence. Some of the most common types of severe violence and threats of severe violence in 2018 included blockades of clinic entrances (9.1%), stalking (7.3%), facility invasions (6.8%), death threats (3.2%), and physical violence (3.2%).

How can I take action?

  • Donate to the Clinic Vest Project, which provides clinic escorts with free safety vests and identifiers to wear when escoring patients outside of abortion clinics.
  • Discover which states have “bubble zone” laws on the books that prevent protesters from coming within a certain distance of a clinic from the Guttmacher Institute.
  • Read the 2019 Violence and Disruption Statistics from the National Abortion Federation.
  • Read the 2018 Clinic Violence Survey from the Feminist Majority Foundation.
  • Read about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
  • Follow We Engage on social media to see what kinds of harassment clinics take on a daily basis.
  • Subscribe to The Repro Queen of DC, my monthly newsletter on abortion access, activism, and writing on the frontlines of DC.
  • Subscribe to Repro 101, a seven-week educational email series about all things repro. Topics include the basics of funding abortion, clinic escorting, anti-choice violence, and more.

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Steph Black

Jewish, feminist, queer. Activist, writer in DC. Pro-abortion clinic escort and chronic volunteer. Get in touch, read my newsletter: linktr.ee/stephreflects