Life News recently got hit by a non-violent glitter “bomb,” and cried to readers that they’d been attacked. They should know better, as people who incite truly deadly clinic bombings.
For the past three years, I’ve been writing a nightly blog for A Is For, a reproductive-rights advocacy non-profit of which I am a co-founder. The blog is a roundup of the day’s reproductive-rights news, highlighting legislative moves, and analysis. I spend a couple of hours each day combing through various news outlets and often come across pieces written by anti-choice organizations, and have become quite familiar with the writings of websites like LifeNews.com, whose rhetoric tends toward the hysterical. I’ve learned to tune most of it out. But last week, a line was crossed when I read an email by Steven Ertelt, the editor of Life News, to supporters with this subject line: “Our Office Was Bombed and We Need Your Help!” The lead sentence in the email? “Our office has been bombed!”
The bomb was a glitter bomb. Remember glitter-bombing? During the run-up to the 2012 Presidential Election, supporters of marriage equality would toss handfuls of glitter at anti-gay candidates: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann. Rick Santorum was glitter-bombed five times. Now, three years later, glitter-bombing is having a bit of a renaissance. A group called Glitter Bombs For Choice has begun sending letters filled with the impossible-to-clean-up substance to anti-choice politicians and organizations. One of those glitter bombs made its way to the offices of Life News.
Ertelt explains in the email that it wasn’t a REAL bombing. “No, we were not the victim of the kind of bombing you see on the nightly news that claims people’s lives and causes them to live in fear of terror.” But real or not, it was still a bombing, he said. So won’t you please send us some money to help us get past it? That’s right: Ertelt fund-raised off of an envelope full of glitter.
When you think about it, though, this kind of opportunism makes perfect sense. Who better to talk about bombings and terrorism than one of the leading voices of the anti-choice movement, which considers bombing abortion clinics and murdering abortion doctors a means to an end? Since 1977, there have been 41 abortion clinic bombings, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, and over 600 bomb threats. Some clinics have been bombed multiple times. There have been thousands of acts of vandalism against abortion clinics. The most recent occurred on Sunday night, when vandals destroyed the security cameras and generator at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a.k.a., “The Pink House.” The clinic’s director Sharon Brewer assured the public that they will not be intimidated. “We’re going to be here,” Brewer told Rachel Maddow. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re insisting that from this day until the end of this, we’re going to be here.”
I’m sure Mr. Ertelt will deny any correlation between his glitter-bombing plea and the actual bombing of abortion clinics. But causing people to “live in fear of terror” is exactly what the anti-choice movement is about. Whether it’s screaming at patients as they walk into a clinic or protesting outside of the middle school attended by the daughter of an abortion-clinic landlord, their goal is to incite fear in hopes of silencing abortion providers. We can debate whether glitter-bombing is an effective means of protest. But I think it’s fair to say that we can all agree that there’s nothing funny about the bombings of abortion clinics and the violence against the people who work at them. Just ask the family of Robert Sanderson. Mr. Sanderson was 35 years old and an eight-year veteran of the Birmingham, Alabama, Police Department. He also worked part-time as a security guard at the New Women, All Women Health Care Clinic. He was killed when a remote-control bomb was detonated by Eric Rudolph.
Rudolph’s only regret was that bomb didn’t kill more people at the clinic, and showed no remorse for Mr. Sanderson’s death. He said, “Despite the fact that he may have been a good guy, he volunteered to work at a place that murders 50 people a week. He chose to wield a weapon in defense of these murderers as they went about their grisly work, and that makes him just as culpable as the murderers themselves. I have no regrets or remorse for my actions that day in January, and consider what happened morally justified.” Maybe Mr. Ertlet should ask clinic workers how they’d feel about an envelope full of glitter. My guess is they’d consider it a welcome change of pace.
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