Three Illinois men charged with bombing a Minnesota mosque last year also attempted to bomb an abortion clinic, according to federal authorities.
The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota was bombed on Aug. 5, 2017. Although no one was killed or injured, the bombing caused damage to the building, the Chicago Tribune reported. Michael B. Hari, 47, Joe Morris, 22, and Michael McWhorter, 29, have all been charged with arson, according to the Department of Justice. The trio also attempted an attack on the Women's Health Practice last November, throwing a pipe bomb through the window. However, it failed to detonate.
This latest incident underscores the rise of violence and intimidation not only against Muslim communities but against abortion providers and women's health centers in the U.S.
According to the 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey, 34.2% of abortion providers in U.S. said they have experienced violence or threats of violence, a 19.7% increase from 2014.
Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, tells Refinery29 that the charged and oftentimes false rhetoric around abortion in the media does not help matters.
"We know that hostile rhetoric can incite anti-abortion extremists to take the law into their own hands by threatening abortion providers and committing acts of violence," she says. "When anti-abortion rhetoric heats up and abortion providers are targeted and demonized, we’ve seen an increase in extreme forms of violence like arsons, bombings, and murders. This hate speech contributes to a culture where some even feel it is justifiable to murder doctors because they provide women with the abortion care they need."
A study conducted by NAF found that from 2010 to 2016, there have been 139 incidents of violence or intimidation against abortion providers, three of those incidents being the murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in 2015.
Since the 2016 election, NAF has also documented a dramatic increase in hate speech against abortion online.
"The internet has allowed anti-abortion extremists to reach people they were not able to reach before with their hate speech and violent rhetoric. Before, they were only able to reach those that attended their meetings and rallies and were on their mailing lists," Saporta tells Refinery29. "Now they spread their hate far and wide over the internet and reach people not on any one’s radar, who then commit acts of violence."
Under the Trump administration, the more extreme voices and policies are getting renewed energy; Vice President Mike Pence recently said he believes access to abortion will end "in our time" and Mississippi — which only has one abortion clinic in the entire state — voted to pass a 15-week abortion ban bill.
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