When any remaining abortion doctors in Louisiana are eventually murdered, each and every member of the Louisiana House and Senate who voted for their new HB 388 law, as well as Governor Bobby Jindal, should be charged as accessories to murder. This law will be requiring doctors, including those in private practice who provide a limited number of abortions, to register with the state. This registration requires doctors to publish their names, addresses, and even photos to the internet. Pushed through the Louisiana Senate with a vote of 34-3, and then the House with a vote of 85-6, HB 388 also closes most of the state’s abortion clinics.
These legislators know that they are purposefully putting the lives of abortion providers at risk by forcing them to publish their identifying information. In the past, in other states, wanted posters with the names and details of abortion providers have been circulated among anti-choice extremists. In these cases, the consequence has been death, such as the murders of Dr. David Gunn and Dr. George Patterson. Too often, the allegedly “pro-life” community either remains silent on these murders or applauds them outright, as Reverend Paul Hill did when he said in the New York Times that the murders of Drs. Gunn and Patterson, “had the desired result.”
As it stands, five years after the murder of Dr. George Tiller, most of these remaining abortion doctors already have to remain in hiding to prevent violent radicals from killing them or their loved ones. They take different routes to work each day. They wear bullet proof vests. Their clinics have armed guards, metal detectors, and the highest levels of security they can afford.
Dr. Cheryl Chastine, the doctor who bravely stepped forward to take Dr. Tiller’s place in Wichita, Kansas, appeared on MSNBC, but in shadow, to share how her life is constantly endangered. Many significant threats, lawsuits, and other forms of intimidation were also used against another potential abortion provider in Kansas in 2011 to the point where one doctor felt she could not continue to practice abortion services, in part for her own safety. Rachel Maddow uncovered another major threat to an Allentown, Pennsylvania clinic.
When Maddow, on June 3rd, covered Louisiana’s premeditated effort to have abortion providers targeted for murder, she quoted Democratic State Representative Larry Walker of Georgia, who said in 2001,
“Have you heard about these clinics being bombed and these people being shot and if the word goes out this could very well cause that. In fact, I had a leading Republican over here say we’re a right to life, not this kind of thing…How many appendectomy doctors do you know whose clinics have been bombed? Or baby doctors…pediatricians…or heart specialists? Now…let’s be realistic about it. If you take that approach, this is the real thing. If you put out on the Internet that these people are performing abortions, the next thing you know some of these radicals are going to want to shoot ’em and kill ’em and bomb ’em and everything else. It’s going on. It’s the real world.”
Louisiana itself is no stranger to violence against abortion clinics. In 1986, several people were indicted for bombing two clinics and attempting to bomb a third. Again in 1993, a man torched another abortion clinic in Louisiana. People know the consequences of publishing this information.
It is not enough that Louisiana (and so many other states) have already restricted access to abortion to an unprecedented extent. It is not enough that they have assured that low-income women, the women most in need of services, are unable to get them. While the past four years have seen extraordinary overreach on the part of mostly Republican lawmakers in the states regarding abortion restrictions, it has to be noted that nearly every Democratic lawmaker in Louisiana voted right alongside the Republicans on this newest bloodthirsty bill. It is a matter of time before one of two things happens. Either Louisiana lawmakers will get their wish that abortion providers will at least be frightened out of delivering services in the future, or they will get their wish that abortion providers are all murdered. If it’s the latter, or if even one abortion provider is killed as a result of this electronic ‘wanted’ list, all 119 legislators who voted in favor of HB 388 should be charged as accessories to 1st degree murder when the eventual tragedy (or tragedies) occur(s.)
Deborah is a former social work professor who taught social policy, mental health policy, and human diversity. Proud to be called liberal, she happily pays her taxes after being raised in a home that needed long-term welfare. Contrary to the opinion of many, she is living proof that government investment in children leads them out of poverty having received services from Head Start to Pell Grants. Deborah works with low-income, first generation, and disabled college students who are at high-risk for dropping out of college in a program designed to help them graduate. She lives with her husband, stepson, and an aging cat.