Pro-life activist Michael John Harris, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of making telephone threats to two clinics that provide reproductive health services in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
According to the Justice Department’s press release:
In connection with his plea, Harris admitted that on May 12, 2014, he made telephonic threats to two different health clinics in Minneapolis that provide reproductive health services. In his call to the first clinic, Harris threatened to kill the person on the other end of the call using his bare hands, and then cut the person’s head off with a band saw. In his call to the second clinic, Harris said he would kill the person on the other end of the call and everyone else who worked there, and that he was going to travel to the clinic and shoot everyone present. Harris admitted that he made these threats to intimidate people from obtaining or providing reproductive health services.
The Justice Department was not impressed, noting that these kinds of threats of violence attack a Constitutionally-protected right.
“Harris’s violent threats against clinics that provide reproductive health services constitute a serious attack on an important right guaranteed by law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who seek to interfere with access to reproductive health care.”
The irony of a pro-life activist threatening to kill people and use a saw to cut off their heads is not lost, but is it also not rare. Death threats against clinic workers, doctors, and all at a clinic have risen in the wake of the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos Republicans incorrectly treated as factual.
In September of last year, Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, asked the Justice Department and the FBI to intervene due to the frightening escalation of threats after elected Republicans elevated the profile of the false Planned Parenthood videos and pretended they implicated Planned Parenthood.
“In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring,” she told The Huffington Post . “We have enlisted law enforcement’s help.”
Life is indeed precious, but that includes every living human being. Pro-life activists who are resorting to violence and death threats are making their premise of “life is precious” appear to be nothing but a ruse for some way to discharge their own rage and hatred.
The best way to reduce abortion is to focus on family planning and make sure birth control is affordable and available to all women. That is what Planned Parenthood does. Planned Parenthood was not only exonerated of the charges Republicans tried to stick them with based on these videos but the makers of the videos were indicted on criminal charges.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.