Shocking—and terrible news—from the Flathead today, where the offices of Susan Cahill at All Families Healthcare were badly vandalized in “a very personal attack” late Monday or early Tuesday morning.
It’s a text book example of right wing extremist violence. Ms. Cahill’s practice, the only one that provides abortion services in Kalispell, was firebombed in 1994 and abortion providers across the country have long been under siege by those willing to use vile personal attacks, threats of violence, and even cold-blooded murder to terrify those who provide reproductive health services. The Anti-Defamation League notes that extremist violence from anti-abortion activists is still a very real threat:
Anti-abortion violence has actually remained a consistent, if secondary, source of domestic terrorism and violence, manifesting itself most often in assaults and vandalism, with occasional arsons, bombings, drive-by shootings, and assassination attempts.
NARAL Pro-Choice America reports that there have been over 6,000 acts of violence and 175,000 acts of disruption against abortion providers since 1977.
The purpose of these acts of violence and threats is clear: to intimidate abortion providers and frighten patients. Along the way, simple geography restricts access: by removing access to a local clinic, those who attacked All Families Healthcare made receiving abortion services more difficult.
It’s too early to tell, but it’s not difficult to imagine the profile of the person or persons behind this attack. This will not turn out to be a case of a childish prank or a mistaken identity; this was the act of someone willing to use the threat of violence to intimidate someone for political ends.
This was not vandalism or the noble crusade the person responsible is telling himself it was; this was nothing less than an act of terrorism.
The services Ms. Cahill provides her patients in the Flathead are not only legal; they are vital to women’s health, and as she notes, “a human right.” There can be no excuse for those who violate the privacy of some of the most vulnerable patients and threaten the security of medical personnel who provide these critical services.
We should thank her for her bravery in the face of these threats and for her willingness to keep working to ensure access for the women of Kalispell. We should continue to be vigilant in the fight for legal protections for abortion providers and their patients. And we should make sure that the person or persons responsible for this vile, cowardly act of terrorism is prosecuted and punished as strictly as the law will allow.