Preventing Clinic Violence

We strive to protect physicians and patients from violence and harassment.

Pennsylvania has long been a target for clinic violence and targeted harassment of abortion providers. For the last four decades, the Women’s Law Project has provided physicians, clinic staff and clinic escorts across Pennsylvania with legal advice and support related to clinic violence and harassment. Pennsylvania providers have been subjected to death threats, obstructive clinic protests, fake anthrax attacks, bomb threats, arson, vandalism, targeted harassment at home and at church, internet stalking, and assault. We have developed specialty expertise in protecting reproductive health care providers from extremist campaigns of violence and targeted harassment out of necessity.

Our litigation in this area includes Roe v. Operation Rescue, one of the earliest federal clinic blockade cases; Kuhns v. City of Allentown, a 2008 lawsuit brought by anti-abortion protesters against both the City of Allentown and the Allentown Women’s Center, in which we successfully defended the Allentown Women’s Center from nefarious discovery practices and bogus conspiracy claims; Gonzales v. Dunkle, to our knowledge the only Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act civil action to be brought by the Department of Justice under President Bush’s administration, as a result of the Women’s Law Project’s advocacy; and U.S. v. Parente, a Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act case in which we represented escorts who were assaulted by a protester.

We have been instrumental in buffer zone ordinances in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. We currently represent providers and clinic escorts appearing as witnesses in defense of two statutory buffer zone ordinances, in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Reilly v. Harrisburg and Bruni v. Pittsburgh, respectively.

We provide continual legal guidance and support to Pennsylvania clinics and volunteer escorts in Pittsburgh, Allentown, West Chester, Chester, Harrisburg and Philadelphia who are faced with clinic protest problems.

Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health Work

Through the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, we advocate for the Pennsylvania Freedom of Access to Health Care Facilities Act (PA-FACE). This legislation would prohibit the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with any person who is obtaining reproductive health services or providing reproductive health services. The Pennsylvania Freedom of Access to Health Care Facilities Act would also prohibit the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility.