Amidst our current national discussion about how quickly the media and politicians label one group (Muslims) terrorists but bend over backwards to avoid using the term for other groups (most particularly, white men), a particular group of homegrown terrorists have been largely overlooked - anti-abortion terrorists.
This group of extremists have killed eight abortion providers since 1993, have bombed and set fire to clinics, have stalked doctors, nurses, administrators, and their families, have picketed at providers' homes and their kids' schools, have sent death threats, and engaged in a litany of other activity to terrorize abortion providers. These actions are not a historical remnant of the days when Operation Rescue was at its height; rather, these actions continue and are a regular part of the lives of many abortion providers around the country.
The stories of how these actions impact abortion providers and what, if anything, law can do about it form the basis for my newly released co-authored book - Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism (Oxford University Press 2015). In the book, Krysten Connon and I tell the stories of abortion providers in the United States as they struggle to live through being targets of anti-abortion terrorists.
Thank you to Dan for asking me to blog about the book in a series of posts. I'll use this post to introduce the basics of the book and will use several others to highlight different aspects of the writing/publishing process for the book that should be (I hope!) of interest to other academics.
The basic idea behind the book is that many people know about the general debate around abortion and that this leads to anti-abortion folks gathering at abortion clinics to protest the clinic and try to get women entering to reconsider their decision (this is intentionally a very neutral description of what happens outside clinics). But, what many people do not know about is the ways in which abortion providers are individually targeted, separate from clinic-based protest, because of their association with abortion.
This kind of individualized targeting is the subject of the book. The book tells tells the stories of the people who suffer from being targeted, analyzes the ways in which they are targeted, describes how this kind of targeting impacts their lives, and looks at how law and law enforcement can do better in preventing and responding to this kind of harassment. The book concludes by explaining why abortion providers continue in this line of work despite being individually harassed, targeted, threatened, and terrorized.
Given what many abortion providers put up with as the targets of anti-abortion terrorists, it is amazing that we have abortion providers in this country at all. But we do, and as our book uncovers, we do because of the inspiring dedication and compassion of those in the field of abortion care.
If you want more than this short introduction, you can read some reviews of the book from The New Republic, Ms. Magazine, RH Reality Check, Truth-Out, and The New York Journal of Books; interviews with me and my co-author at Salon, Rolling Stone, or Cosmopolitan; or excerpts at Salon, Women's eNews, or Alternet.
In the coming days, I won't be writing much more about the substance of the book (at least, not directly) but instead will be posting about the process of writing, researching, publishing, and promoting the book. In particular, I'll be posting about how this book came about as a mix of service, teaching, and scholarship; the process of tackling qualitative empirical research methodology for a newbie; how this research opened up a whole new world to me of academics mixing with practitioners in a productive way; what I've learned about promoting my work; and maybe a few other things as well. I hope you'll find it interesting.