Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Radical Foes of Abortion Copy Tactics of Militias Strategy Includes Use of 'Paper Terrorism' to Harass Doctors Who Perform Abortions

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Radical Foes of Abortion Copy Tactics of Militias Strategy Includes Use of 'Paper Terrorism' to Harass Doctors Who Perform Abortions

Article excerpt

Barnett Slepian, the doctor slain recently in upstate New York, and Eric Rudolph, the fugitive hiding out in the mountains of North Carolina, may not seem to have much in common. But together they appear to illustrate a growing overlap of interest - and action - among anti-government radicals and those opposed to abortion.

Increasingly, "Patriots," white supremacists, "Christian Identity" adherents, the Ku Klux Klan, and other sectors of the far-right are taking up abortion as a major cause. At the same time, some in the pro-life movement are adopting the methods of antigovernment radicals, such as the "paper terrorism" tactic of filing phony liens as a form of harassment against doctors who perform abortions.

"There's been a real convergence between these two movements, and it's speeded up recently," says Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, a quarterly journal that tracks the radical right for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Birmingham, Ala. Of particular concern to law-enforcement officials around the country is the apparent move toward a violent "leaderless resistance" by some opposed to abortion - the same tactic advocated in some militia circles. This includes attacks by a single individual - working alone or perhaps as part of a small "leaderless cell" unconnected to any known organization. (This was the mode of operation for Timothy McVeigh, convicted of blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.) "Eric Rudolph typifies that for me," says Dallas Blanchard, chairman of the sociology department at the University of Western Florida in Pensacola and author of several books on the pro-life movement. "Now, I'm having to track both militias and anti-abortion groups," adds Dr. Blanchard. Attacks in Atlanta Mr. Rudolph, who is on the FBI's "10 most wanted" list, is a suspect in the bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., last January. Last month, the United States Justice Department named him in connection with the bombings of an abortion clinic, a lesbian bar, and the site of the 1996 Olympics - all in Atlanta. Law-enforcement officials and other experts would not be surprised if those attacks were carried out by the same group or individual. In the philosophy of the extreme right, abortion, homosexuality, and "one-world government" symbolized by the UN all are viewed as targets. Mainline pro-life activists are quick to denounce violent tactics. When Dr. Slepian was shot and killed at his home in Amherst, N.Y., Oct. 23, the directors of the anti-abortion group Women and Children First immediately called the attack "morally and ethically wrong." "This repugnant act is exactly what the right-to-life movement has been against for years," said Sally Winn and Steven Ertelt in a press statement. "Vigilante acts of violence such as this are reprehensible because no one's right to life should ever be denied by another person. …

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