Written by Steph Herold, Social Media Strategist for Trust Women PAC
Last week, anti-choice zealot and violence enthusiast Justin Carl Moose was arrested in North Carolina for providing information to create explosives designed to blow up an abortion clinic. Thankfully, he was caught before any harm was done to the clinic, staff, and patients, but if it wasn’t for Facebook, he might have gone unnoticed.
A week or two ago, I received what I thought was an innocent instant message: a friend asking for quick advice. Thinking it was going to be about roommate drama or boy issues, I said yes and expected to get back to my own work in a few minutes. What I didn’t anticipate was that my friend, who works at a prominent pro-choice organization, was dealing with an anti-choice zealot on Facebook, a possible terrorist, and was looking to me to help her decide the right course of action to take.
I took a look at the offenders’ Facebook profile, on which he had listed such aphorisms as “end abortion by any means necessary and at any cost” and “save a life, shoot an abortionist.” Seeing these shockingly violent aspirations stated so bluntly with such pride gave me chills. My friend shared that he wrote threatening messages on the Facebook page of her place of employment, which is what led her to his profile in the first place.
After skimming through all of the hateful messages on Moose’s profile, I told my friend to contact the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, her local police, and the police in his area. I also suggested she contact the National Abortion Federation and any clinics local to this guy to put them on alert. It turns out that all of these authorities knew about him already and were vigilantly monitoring his activities. While writing violent threats on a pro-choice organization’s Facebook wall isn’t enough to launch a police investigation, it did put them on high alert, which lead to his eventual arrest.
No matter the venue, anti-choice terrorism or threats of violence cannot be ignored. Besides reporting it to the proper authorities, there are a number of other things you can do:
- Educate your peers about anti-choice violence. Let your friends and family know that abortion providers are in literal danger and that the right for women to make reproductive choices is constantly under siege. The more people that know about it, the more action we can take to prevent it.
- If you feel safe doing so, write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting your local abortion provider. Public support is important, especially when abortion is such a stigmatized subject.
- Become a clinic escort at your local clinic. This allows you to make sure patients and staff get into the clinic despite harassing protesters. This also lets you know exactly what the anti-choice people in your area look like and what activities they participate in, which is useful information should you have to report anything to the police.
- Write to your elected officials at the local, county and state levels and explain why you support your local abortion providers. Make sure you let policy makers know that you want them to do whatever they can to protect providers in your area.