Here’s What It’s Like to Work at Planned Parenthood

<a href=:"http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-274335932/stock-photo-bullet-holes-in-the-window-of-a-shop-in-dnepropetrovsk.html">Tymonko Galyna</a>/Shutterstock


Last night, Bryn Greenwood, who worked for Planned Parenthood in the late 90s, tweeted about her experience:

I worked at a #PlannedParenthood clinic in Kansas for 3 years. My coworkers & I were subjected to the following acts of terrorism:

  • Gasoline was poured under our back door & ignited 4 times. Twice while the clinic was occupied, causing patients to be evacuated.
  • Butyric acid (used as a stink bomb) was poured under our doors & into ventilation system so many times I lost count. Clinic evacuated.
  • 2 cherry bombs were left on our doorstep after hours, causing damage & clinic closure. Imagine what it’s like going to work after that.
  • We received hundreds of phone calls, threatening to torch our clinic & to kill the “murdering whores” who worked there.
  • 3 times someone drove by at night & shot out our windows. Picketers stood on the sidewalk & harassed employees as we swept up broken glass.

Our clinic didn’t perform abortions. We did well woman exams, pregnancy tests, dispensed birth control, & treated STIs. Our clinic offered free & low cost services in a low income neighborhood, but every day the “pro-life” movement tried to frighten us. The goal was to make us afraid to come to work, to make us quit, to make us close the clinic. That’s terrorism. That’s how terrorism works.

This is what life is like for women’s health providers, even ones who don’t perform abortions. I guess I’d urge caution about calling this terrorism, since I’m not sure it does us any good to expand the scope of crimes that are part of the “war on terror.” Historically speaking, that hasn’t been great for liberal values. Still, it’s hard to argue that the goals and methods aren’t pretty terrifying—and that’s even without Greenwood mentioning the personal threats implicit in photographing license plates and publishing names and addresses of clinic workers, which are common tactics.

After two days of near silence, Republican presidential candidates are finally “praying” for the victims of the Colorado attack. They could hardly avoid it when they were booked on national TV—and anyway, praying is always okay, even for sinners. Especially for sinners, in fact. It’s a turn of phrase that doesn’t risk showing even the slightest desire to protect Planned Parenthood from future attacks. Republicans might not want Planned Parenthood workers killed, but they sure don’t seem to mind if their angry hordes do everything just short of that.