A recent survey by the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) found that 12.4% of American adults believe “the use of force is justified to restore the federal right to abortion.” That would make an army of approximately 22 million people. Since Dobbs, groups like Jane’s Revenge have targeted the pro-life community, especially pregnancy centers. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that acts of pro-abortion violence and threats against pro-life victims constitute 70% of the Bureau’s abortion-related caseload.
Since 52% of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” you can reasonably conclude that every fourth pro-choice person you meet is prepared — at least in principle — to physically harm you.
Of course, in practice, there are many external factors which can discourage pro-choicers from acting upon their violent beliefs. And while the survey results are certainly distressing, we must not let fear stop us from interacting with the three-quarters who shy away from extremism, and who can potentially be persuaded to join the cause of life and peace.
- Use video recording where possible. This may take the form of a GoPro or cell phone camera for public interactions, or security cameras on your building. People tend to be better behaved when they know they’re being recorded. And if the situation nevertheless escalates, at least you have evidence.
- There is strength in numbers. Consider a buddy system for sidewalk counseling and similar activities. For protest marches, the most muscular adults belong on the perimeter, keeping children, wheelchair users, etc. in the center.
- Learn first aid. Keep basic supplies handy, and consider formal first response training. Stop-The-Bleed.org is a phenomenal place to start looking into the matter. Groups such as North American Rescue, Dark Angel Medical, and your local emergency services can help you acquire training and resources. Talk to your fire or police department about organizing a first aid training for your staff and volunteers. Most emergency service agencies are happy to help members of the community be equipped.
- If attacked, do not fight back. Self-defense is not morally wrong, but non-violent resistance is preferable for several reasons. We find strength in the example of peaceful historical movements. If you fight back, the press may falsely portray you as the aggressor (especially if there is no video; see #1). Violence is unlikely to deter an abortion extremist anyway. And most importantly, taking the punch is an act of solidarity with preborn children, who are physically defenseless.