When Hillary Clinton referred to the escalation of attacks on health care providers as "domestic terrorism" last month, there was a collective gasp in the media.
But let's examine the facts behind the assertion. In the wake of the hoax videos release by an extremist anti-choice group, providers are reporting more frequent and more threatening attacks on women's health.
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington State -- which doesn't even offer abortions -- was set on fire, and law enforcement has determined it was arson. Death threats to abortion providers have spiked. As reported in The Huffington Post, Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation "is so alarmed by the escalation of threats against providers" that she asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to intervene.
"In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring," she told The Huffington Post in an interview. "We have enlisted law enforcement's help."
A new book by attorneys David Cohen and Krysten Connon,, "Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism," details the constant and escalating threats to reproductive health care providers, including physicians, nurses, aides or clinic administrators. Providers report that threats have doubled since 2010, according to a survey done by the Feminist Majority Foundation.
According to RH Reality Check, "Incidents of wanted-style posters of abortion providers, pamphlets targeting doctors and clinic staff, and harmful information and pictures of doctors posted on the Internet have all significantly increased over the past four years, according to the report. The posters and flyers often include phrases like "Killers Among Us," "Wanted For Killing," and "Stop This Abortionist Now."
The rate of clinics reporting stalking of physicians has also increased, from 6.4 percent of clinics in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2014."
Planned Parenthood's flagship health care facility in Denver, a pro-choice city in a pro-choice state, has a 12-foot high security perimeter and an armed guard. Protestors regularly threaten patients, and providers change their route to work as a safety measure.
Providing women's health care shouldn't be at personal risk of physical and mental harm. The fact is, we need to call the threats of violence and the intimidation of health care providers and patients what it is -- domestic terrorism. And more public officials like Hillary Clinton, not just advocacy groups and the people on the front lines, need to take a stand opposing domestic terrorism and supporting women's health.