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Violence Continues; Link Between Militants and Militia

January was an extraordinarily violent month for women's health clinics. Most heavily publicized were bombings at the Atlanta Family Health clinic, as well as two separate bombings at a women's health clinic in Tulsa. February 2 also saw an armed attack at the same Tulsa clinic; the intruder fired several shots at electronic equipment. No one was hurt, and the intruder fled. A 15-year-old boy has been charged in the Tulsa attacks. Less well-known were the bomb threats to clinics up and down the east coast, as well as an attempted blockade of an Englewood, N.J. clinic by about 100 anti-choicers. Organized by a Florida group, the blockade was prevented by clinic defenders and the Englewood police. A few weeks before this, a blockade of Rochester's Planned Parenthood clinic was attempted by anti-abortion militants gluing themselves by the forehead to a clinic door, locking themselves together with kryptonite locks, and locking the hands or feet of six people together inside a steel box-a new technique.

Link between anti-abortion militants and right-wing militias

Observers of right-wing activities are noting a convergence of philosophy and technique between anti-abortion militancy and extremist militia activity. Bombings at the Atlanta clinic (where a second bomb exploded an hour after the first) are just one example; clinics vandalized with hangman's nooses and bullet- riddled signs, as was done by militia leader Larry Ball at a Lincoln, Nebraska, Planned Parenthood clinic, are another. Look deeper and hear the rhetoric used by extremist militias, radical tax protesters, and extreme anti-choicers merging: Both anti-abortion and militia leaders often cite Roe u Wade and FACE (the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law) as evidence of "anti-Christian" bigotry and defiance of "God's law."

One militia leader has been fined over $500,000 for his participation in abortion blockades with Oregon-based Advocates for Life. This same man also conducted target practice with Shelley Shannon four days before her attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita. Larry Pratt, former Pat Buchanan aide and executive director of Gun Owners of America, a favorite speaker at white supremacist gatherings, raised $150,000 to pay Operation Rescue's bills. Many pro-gun, anti-government zealots have connections to Operation Rescue, and OR activists have demonstrated at the Waco compound.

In 1994, PPFA released a video of Missionaries to the Preborn leader Rev. Matthew Trewhella calling for the formation of armed militias. Trewhella had made a speech at the Wisconsin convention of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, urging that "churches can form militia days and teach their men to fight." Trewhella's own church held classes for its members on "the use of firearms." He recommended buying "each of your children an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition." Trewhella was also a signatory to Paul Hill's Defensive Action petition, in which the "use of lethal force" is "justified" to save the "unborn." (Hill has been sentenced to death for the murders of a doctor and clinic escort in Florida.) The anti-abortion views of militia-and-gun supporters are beginning to overlap with the religious right-wing's ideology and rhetoric. The line between these groups is blurring, revealing both groups' deep anti-government thinking and little tolerance for separation of church and state. Abortion is just one issue in this convergence. Anti-environmentalism, homophobia, gun control, and taxes might also emerge as joint issues in the near future.

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