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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 12, 2001

CONTACT

Communications Department
202-667-5881

National Abortion Federation Joins Leading National Pro-Choice Organizations in Calling on Attorney General to Provide Leadership against Anti-Choice Violence

Statement of Vicki Saporta, Executive Director

Washington, DC - Since the beginning of this Administration, our members across the country have reported an escalation in threatening activity directed at them and their patients. Not only is a convicted criminal on the run and threatening to kill abortion providers, but as we stand here this afternoon anti-choice activists from around the country are arriving in Kansas for a week of protests and disruptive activity.

That is why we are here today. The Attorney General has the discretionary power to provide additional resources when they are needed to prevent violence - that power includes assigning U.S. Marshal protection, posting rewards, and placing fugitives on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. When these tools have been used in the past they have prevented violence and saved lives.

Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider and NAF member, has specifically been identified as the target of the upcoming protests in Wichita. An attempt was made on his life in 1993, and the theme of this year's event is "let's finish it." Dr. Tiller is still alive and caring for his patients today in large part because he received round-the-clock Marshal protection after he was shot.

Two months ago, Dr. Tiller requested U.S. Marshal protection during the upcoming protests. NAF supported his request. We only ask for this type of assistance when we feel it is absolutely necessary. Given the past assassination attempt on Dr. Tiller and recent threats, we were certain that in this case U.S. Marshal protection was necessary. Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Tiller was notified by fax that his request was denied. Then last night, he received a call from the Justice Department, stating that his request has now been granted. Rather than question the motive for the last-minute change, we would like to thank the Attorney General for granting Marshal protection for Dr. Tiller. But we would also like to let him know that more needs to be done. This is the first step of many that must be taken to ensure that violence against abortion providers does not increase.

At the same time that Dr. Tiller is being threatened, abortion providers across the country are currently in a state of high alert due to the escape of convicted criminal Clayton Waagner. Waagner has a history of stalking abortion providers, including several of our members, and he has stated recently on the Army of God web site that he plans to kill as many abortion providers as he can. He wrote, "I consider this a war and in war there are few rules... It doesn't matter to me if you're a nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor, if you work for the murderous abortionist I'm going to kill you."

We take this threat very seriously, and so do our members. In the past decade, there have been 7 murders as a result of anti-choice violence, including the murders of two receptionists. We know that we must take this threat seriously to prevent any further violence from occurring. U.S. Marshals and the ATF are currently working to apprehend Waagner, but we would like to hear from the Attorney General that the Justice Department is making his capture a top priority. We ask the Attorney General to demonstrate this commitment by posting a reward for anyone with information leading to Waagner's capture, and by allocating additional resources to the search.

As the chief law enforcement officer in the land, Attorney General Ashcroft is in a position to send a clear message to anti-choice terrorists that any violent acts they commit will not be tolerated. He has granted U.S. Marshal protection to one physician, but he has the power to commit additional resources that are critical to stemming the tide of violence directed at all abortion providers. We call on him now to work with us and take further steps to ensure that Waagner is captured before he can carry out his threats to murder abortion providers. We ask the Attorney General to fulfill the promises he made during his confirmation hearings, and exercise his power on behalf of those who risk their lives daily to provide safe, legal reproductive health care services to women.

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The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.
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