An undercover audio recording has revealed that anti-abortion activists in Texas use various strategies to identify and scrutinize abortion patients, interrogate abortion providers and investigate tax records to locate abortion clinics so they can be intimidated. Progress Texas and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas recorded the audio clip during a training session at the Capitol that was organized by a group of anti-abortion activists. The seminar, titled “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed,” addressed the disturbing lengths anti-abortion advocates go to in order to trace, scrutinize and intimidate abortion patients, abortion providers and abortion clinics.
In the recording, Karen Garnett from Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas can be heard instructing the audience on how to trace license plates, car models and patients who visit abortion clinics in Texas.
“You track license plates […] coming into any abortion facility. We have a very sophisticated spreadsheet. This way you can track whether or not a client comes back,” she says.
The audio clip then moves on to another speaker citing the number of clinic employees who have quit their jobs after being threatened by anti-abortionists.
“The poorer ones heard the abortion clinic in their area was going to close and visited an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center instead. God is good,” she said.
In the clip, anti-abortionist Abby Johnson from Live Action is heard discussing how her group has examined appraisal district records to discover the new address of an Austin-based physician who performs abortions.
“We know where he will be moving if he loses the case […]. These abortionists are feeling the pressure from the pro-life movement in Texas. I think they feel like they’re on the run. And that’s how we want to keep it,” she said.
The training session was organized on August 4, the same day that the trial against Texas’ abortion law began. If the law is eventually passed, it will lead to a reduction in the numbers of abortion clinics in the state.
“The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB 2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are those outside abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers. With fewer clinics for these stalking protesters to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated. The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives,” said Heather Busby from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
By revealing the undercover audio recording, both reproductive rights groups tried to show how abortion providers in Texas are intimidated and violated. They said that these clinics have witnessed not only harassment and vandalism but also shootouts and bombings. Since 1993, as many as two clinic employees, four doctors and eight others have been killed by anti-abortionists in the United States.
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