Anti-Abortion Violence Hit An All-Time High In 2015, According To NAF Report, And The Correlation Is Hard To Miss

"Abortion" should not be a word we feel like we need to whisper out of fear for how others will react to it — but unfortunately, new research shows abortion and the people who support it are being met with more violence and hate than ever. In fact, anti-abortion violence hit a record high in 2015, with the number of cases of online hate speech, threats, and violence absolutely skyrocketing like you wouldn't believe. The National Abortion Federation released a new report this month with more precise numbers, and after reading it, my jaw seriously dropped.

Take this statistic, for instance: In 2014, there were 91 cases of online hate speech targeted at abortion providers and pro-choice activists. Any way you cut it, this is no good. Compare it to 2015, however, when that number shot up to 25,839, and you have something staggeringly awful. Additionally, the number of threats of bodily harm went from one in 2014 to 94 in 2015. And while there have been "only" 11 murders since the NAF started keeping track of violence in 1977, three of them came from the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting in November of 2015. That's more than a quarter of the total.

Behind all of these shocking statistics is one common correlation, says the NAF: Last year's release of videos intended to take down Planned Parenthood. These videos were later determined to have been heavily manipulated, but the damage, seemingly, has been done.

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I'm sure you remember these videos — supposed "proof" that Planned Parenthood was "selling baby parts," although again, they were determined later to have been altered; furthermore, numerous investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. And according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, unreleased footage showed Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden, who created the videos, coaching participants through repeated takes. When asked for comment on this footage, Daleiden told the LA Times, "I think our methods are really credible." Daleiden was indicted in January for allegedly tampering with government documents and allegedly purchasing and selling human organs; he turned down a plea deal after the indictment. His home was raided by investigators with the California Department of Justice on April 5, and a laptop and several hard drives were seized. Daleiden wrote in a statement on Facebook that he will "pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights." What's more, the Colorado Springs location was shown in the videos, and Robert Dear even referenced the video when he was arrested. According to the data, the sharp increase in violence coincided with the release of videos in July of 2015.

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In a year when clinic blockades almost doubled, arson and bomb threats quadrupled, and acts of vandalism multiplied by five, what has been accomplished? I feel like every time I hear news of some state giving women more power over their own bodies (which seems like a no-brainer to me), I read another article about a different state making access to safe and legal abortion 10 times more difficult. "We've seen firsthand what can happen when abortion providers are targeted and demonized: clinic staff are threatened, facilities are set on fire, and doctors are murdered ... We cannot be silent or ignore this dangerous, unacceptable, and often criminal behavior," the report from the NAF says.

I could rant about this for hours, but I'll refrain. Instead, I'll leave you with this: The NAF's findings are not speculation. It's not a hypothesis. It's a direct correlation. Can it technically "prove" cause and effect? No; as the laws of science state, correlation is not causation. But the correlation speaks volumes, and it cannot be ignored: Despite the fact that violence is never the answer, it keeps growing — and it's unacceptable.