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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 extant research on anti-abortion counterterrorism offers descriptive analyses of anti- abortion extremism geographically and in political context (Hewitt, 2000; Webb & Cutter, 2009). Rhetorical analyses reveal that public discourse surrounding abortion is dominated by anti-abortion activists (Hayden, 2009). The complexity of the abortion issue makes it a prime target for partisan politics. Contemporary political rhetoric is informed by the history of thought surrounding abortion. In mid-18 th century America, abortion was widely viewed as an acceptable form of birth control until the moment of “quickening,” when the fetus began to move in-utero (Collins, 2009, p. 230). This sentiment began to change in the nineteenth century with the formal establishment of the medical profession and the founding of the American Medical Association (AMA). These changes served to discredit midwives, who routinely performed abortions, and led to the introduction of laws limiting abortion rights in many states. This history informs current public opinion on abortion, which remains ambivalent. Most Americans report that they are in favor of access to abortion, however this support may be limited by situational factors (Husting, 2006, p. 171). See Table 1 for a brief history of anti-abortion terrorism and key pieces of legislation. _____________________________ Insert Table 1 about here _____________________________ In addition to the murders included in Table 1, since 1977 violence against abortion clinics, abortion providers, and clinic employees includes 17 attempted murders, 416 death threats, 184 incidents of assault or battery, 41 bombings and 175 incidents of arson in the United States and Canada (National Abortion Federation, 2009). According to Collins (2009), the seven murders of doctors and abortion clinic employees between 1993 and 1998 resulted in fewer 9

Authors: Sundstrom, Beth., Briones, Rowena. and Janoske, Melissa.
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Running head: RESPONSES TO ANTI-ABORTION TERRORISM
The extant research on anti-abortion counterterrorism offers descriptive analyses of anti-
abortion extremism geographically and in political context (Hewitt, 2000; Webb & Cutter, 
2009). Rhetorical analyses reveal that public discourse surrounding abortion is dominated by 
anti-abortion activists (Hayden, 2009). The complexity of the abortion issue makes it a prime 
target for partisan politics. Contemporary political rhetoric is informed by the history of thought 
surrounding abortion. In mid-18
th
 century America, abortion was widely viewed as an acceptable 
form of birth control until the moment of “quickening,” when the fetus began to move in-utero 
(Collins, 2009, p. 230). This sentiment began to change in the nineteenth century with the formal 
establishment of the medical profession and the founding of the American Medical Association 
(AMA). These changes served to discredit midwives, who routinely performed abortions, and led 
to the introduction of laws limiting abortion rights in many states. This history informs current 
public opinion on abortion, which remains ambivalent. Most Americans report that they are in 
favor of access to abortion, however this support may be limited by situational factors (Husting, 
2006, p. 171). See Table 1 for a brief history of anti-abortion terrorism and key pieces of 
legislation.
_____________________________
Insert Table 1 about here
_____________________________
In addition to the murders included in Table 1, since 1977 violence against abortion 
clinics, abortion providers, and clinic employees includes 17 attempted murders, 416 death 
threats, 184 incidents of assault or battery, 41 bombings and 175 incidents of arson in the United 
States and Canada (National Abortion Federation, 2009). According to Collins (2009), the seven 
murders of doctors and abortion clinic employees between 1993 and 1998 resulted in fewer 
9


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