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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Nov;165(5 Pt 1):1263-8.

An epidemic of antiabortion violence in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.


From 1977 to 1988, an epidemic of antiabortion violence took place in the United States, involving 110 cases of arson, firebombing, or bombing. The epidemic peaked in 1984, when there were 29 attacks. Nearly all sites (98%) were clinics that provided abortions. Facilities in 28 states and the District of Columbia were involved. The national rate of violence was 3.7 per 100 abortion providers and 7.2 per 100 nonhospital abortion providers. The national ratio of violence per 100,000 abortions performed was 0.6 Arson was both the most frequent (39% of all cases) and the most damaging (mean cost $141,000) type of violence. The epidemic appears partially attributable to multiple point-source outbreaks of violence caused by small numbers of individuals or groups. Thirty-three persons have been convicted to date. Vigorous prosecution of perpetrators and the reemergence of clinics after damage probably helped to curb the epidemic.

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