Many locals are baffled as to why Easthampton political leaders, who claim to support reproductive rights, recently blocked ordinances supporting reproductive and gender-affirming access to healthcare. After a three-hour public hearing on July 5, the East Hampton City Council voted by a two-thirds majority to pass an ordinance ensuring safe and equitable access to legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming health services. passed. The next morning, East Hampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle sided with the anti-abortion opposition and vetoed the ordinance.
More than 20 reproductive and trans rights groups supported overriding Mayor LaChapelle’s veto. At a hearing on August 2, Congress considered a motion to do so. Many people spoke in favor of overrides. The only person to speak out was Jackie Bruceau Pereira, the chairman of the East Hampton Democratic Commission. Pereira did not participate in the broader public debate on the bill the year before, nor did he communicate with the bill’s supporters. Despite overwhelming support for the nullification, City Council Speaker Jomar Gomes overturned the vote and sided with two other male MPs in favor of the veto.
How do you explain the actions of Democratic leaders who profess to support reproductive rights but vote against reproductive and gender-affirming health care access?
I interviewed Mayor LaChapelle last February about the Center for Crisis Pregnancy (CPC) accountability measures. I asked her why she opposed the previous version of the East Hampton Ordinance. She said she received threatening letters from anti-abortion extremists across the country. Some of them were stained with blood. She gave other reasons for opposing the ordinance, but none resonated with the statements and analysis of the major reproductive health care groups supporting the ordinance. In fact, Ms LaChapelle has shown no willingness to help amend the ordinance to address her own concerns. After all, were LaChapelle, Gómez and Pereira threatened by anti-abortion extremists?
I attended the ordinance hearing on July 5 and was shocked by the threats and intimidation from the anti-abortion side. They called abortion rights supporters murderers and promised frivolous lawsuits. The act is part of a long-standing pattern of anti-abortion violence and intimidation against reproductive health advocates.
For more than four decades, reproductive health providers and their advocates have come under attack from anti-abortion extremists. The so-called “pro-life” movement has carried out relentless violence in women’s clinics since 1977, including 11 murders, 42 bombings, 200 arson attacks, 531 assaults and 492 clinic break-ins. , 375 robberies, and thousands of other crimes targeting patients. , providers and volunteers. Just last week, a family planning clinic in El Centro, Calif., burned down in the face of anti-abortion protests. These figures do not include violence and threats directed at politicians, such as the bloody letter sent to Mayor LaChapelle.
University of Kentucky professor Carol Mason, author of “Killing for Life,” documents the close relationship between rioters and anti-abortion extremists on January 6th. “The same violent mobs of militia fighters, white supremacists and Christian extremists that we saw flooding the Capitol decades ago are fighting against abortion with deadly force. We merged for the sake of it,” Mason said.
Two recent reports reveal a significant increase in anti-abortion violence since the Supreme Court dropped Roe v. Wade. The National Abortion Federation’s 2022 Violence and Disorder Report documents an increase in violence against abortion clinics last year, including break-ins such as robbery (up 231%), stalking (up 229%) and arson (up 100%). are doing. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2022 National Clinic Violence Survey found that 69% of responding clinics experienced disruptive protests targeting their facilities on a daily or weekly basis, compared with nearly a third of clinics surveyed. of 1 (31%) report experiencing one or more forms of serious violence or threats of violence in 2022. The number of reported violence in 2022 is the second highest in 25 years.
Anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have been implicated in widespread violence against reproductive health care facilities. More than two-thirds (67.4%) of his abortion clinics report having his CPC near the facility. These anti-abortion centers not only confuse and deceive patients, but also serve as transit points and surveillance stations for anti-abortion protesters.
Legal harassment by anti-abortion groups is also on the rise. A right-wing law firm that specializes in active representation of anti-abortion extremists has threatened lawsuits across the country, trying to intimidate local leaders into keeping them away from defending clinics and communities. there is This happened in East Hampton. The Catholic Diocese sent lawyers to threaten legal action at an ordinance hearing on July 5, and lawyers from the First Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas and the Massachusetts Family Institute also sent legal threatening letters to the city council. sent.
Our political leaders must confront the intimidation tactics of the anti-abortion movement. They should not be frightened in the face of bloody letters, death sentences, or the threat of frivolous lawsuits. If we give in to their tactics, we end up encouraging them. Now more than ever, we need courageous leaders to stand up to anti-abortion bullies.
Carrie N. Baker is a professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Smith College and a regular contributor to Ms Magazine.