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Expecting the unexpected: Nonprofit media responses to anti-abortion terrorism
Unformatted Document Text:  Running head: RESPONSES TO ANTI-ABORTION TERRORISM The purpose of this study is to explore how nonprofit women’s organizations utilize a complex approach to manage anti-abortion terrorism. This study answers the call for further inquiry into the application of complexity theory to crisis situations (Seeger, Sellnow, & Ulmer, 2001). Applying a complexity lens to the study of anti-abortion counterterrorism builds on the growing emphasis of the postmodern approach to crisis management (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 2009). Furthermore, this study fills a gap in the study of crisis management by investigating how multiple organizations handle a crisis (Adkins, 2010; Heath, 2010). Building on health and risk management paradigms, this study suggests practical implications for the management of anti- abortion terrorism. In this way, the findings suggest practical implications for counterterrorism and crisis management. Finally, this study addresses a dearth of knowledge on counterterrorism and communication (Corman, Trethewey, & Goodall, 2008; Crelinsten, 2002; Nacos, 2009; O’Hair, Heath, & Ayotte, 2008; Tuman, 2010). Findings from this study suggest opportunities to build complexity theory and provide evidence for the importance of a complex approach to crisis management. Defining Terrorism The socially conservative political climate dominates the national discourse around abortion and seeks to justify violence aimed at abortion providers. In an attempt to protect health care providers from violent anti-abortion protestors, the Department of Justice filed six lawsuits between January 2009 and May 2011 under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act (Hegeman, 2011). According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), terrorism is defined as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal 4

Authors: Sundstrom, Beth., Briones, Rowena. and Janoske, Melissa.
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Running head: RESPONSES TO ANTI-ABORTION TERRORISM
The purpose of this study is to explore how nonprofit women’s organizations utilize a 
complex approach to manage anti-abortion terrorism. This study answers the call for further 
inquiry into the application of complexity theory to crisis situations (Seeger, Sellnow, & Ulmer, 
2001). Applying a complexity lens to the study of anti-abortion counterterrorism builds on the 
growing emphasis of the postmodern approach to crisis management (Holtzhausen & Roberts, 
2009). Furthermore, this study fills a gap in the study of crisis management by investigating how 
multiple organizations handle a crisis (Adkins, 2010; Heath, 2010). Building on health and risk 
management paradigms, this study suggests practical implications for the management of anti-
abortion terrorism. In this way, the findings suggest practical implications for counterterrorism 
and crisis management. Finally, this study addresses a dearth of knowledge on counterterrorism 
and communication (Corman, Trethewey, & Goodall, 2008; Crelinsten, 2002; Nacos, 2009; 
O’Hair, Heath, & Ayotte, 2008; Tuman, 2010). Findings from this study suggest opportunities to 
build complexity theory and provide evidence for the importance of a complex approach to crisis 
management.
Defining Terrorism
The socially conservative political climate dominates the national discourse around 
abortion and seeks to justify violence aimed at abortion providers. In an attempt to protect health 
care providers from violent anti-abortion protestors, the Department of Justice filed six lawsuits 
between January 2009 and May 2011 under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) 
Act (Hegeman, 2011). According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and 
Responses to Terrorism (START), terrorism is defined as “the threatened or actual use of illegal 
force and violence by a non state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal 
4


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