Anti-choice activists in Indianapolis recently escalated attacks against abortion providers in Indiana by mailing hundreds of flyers printed with the names and home addresses of two Planned Parenthood doctors to the public.
The mailers, which were sent in plain envelopes with no return label, were addressed to residents in the doctors' neighborhoods, raising the specter of an abortion provider who may live just a few doors down from them.
The initiative was reportedly part of the lead-up to a weeklong conference hosted by Operation Save America, a religious group fighting to make abortion illegal in the United States. The conference—which calls on attendees to "ignore Roe," "establish justice," and "abolish abortion now"—anticipated the attendance of 200 and 300 members of Operation Save America, according to the Indy Star.
“This was intended to let the neighborhood know that someone in their neighborhood makes their living by killing children,” James Farrar, a local pastor helping organize the conference, told the Star. “We hope that we would generate pressure from neighbors like an awareness campaign, so people realize that these people are living right around you.”
Operation Save America did not immediately return Broadly's request for comment.
The flyer campaign arrives just months after the publication of a report from the National Federation of America, which found that harassment and threats against abortion providers are on the rise under President Donald Trump. Abortion providers reported 62 death threats or threats of harm in 2017 alone, doubling the number of reported threats from the year before. Other statistics saw similarly steep increases: Instances of trespassing more than tripled last year, while instances of obstruction to abortion clinics—typically led by anti-abortion protesters—jumped from 580 in 2016 to over 1,700 in 2017. Last year also saw 287 more reports of harassment by mail or phone to abortion providers.
Abortion providers across the country have noticed the uptick in anti-abortion harassment. In May, Laura Laursen told Newsweek she had recently received her first piece of threatening mail, delivered right to her office mailbox. “I was really taken aback,” Laursen recalled. “There wasn’t anything violent in the letter, but it was very nerve-wracking to realize that people know I’m an abortion provider and can reach me if they want.”
Christie Gillespie, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Indiana and Kentucky—home to the two doctors named in the anti-abortion mailers this week—told the Star that the organization's staff is well-prepared for such attacks.
"Much of the training is letting people know what to expect and what could possibly happen because frankly people don’t expect when they go to work that they will be targeted in this manner at their home,” Gillespie said. “You assume that your home is a place of sanctuary and you won’t be targeted.
"Our employees are targeted in ways that are very personal," she continued. "Publicizing someone’s home address is, at best, inappropriate behavior.”