Severe Anti-Abortion Harassment Forced This Indiana Clinic to Close—But Providers are Fighting Back

Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Fort Wayne, Indiana is shutting down in the wake of harassment by anti-abortion extremists. Because of ongoing and dangerous attacks on clinic staff and providers orchestrated by anti-abortion organization Allen County Right to Life, the clinic’s patients will now have to seek out care at its nearest sister facility nearly 70 miles away.

Planned Parenthood supporters rally in Aurora, Col. (Nathan Boltseridge / Creative Commons)

“This harassment goes well beyond the ritual protesting,” Christie Gillespie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, declared in a press statement. “It includes publicly sharing personal information, including home addresses of staff.”

A 2016 study by the Feminist Majority Foundation found a dramatic increase in the number of abortion providers and clinics who had experienced severe, violent threats, including death threats, stalking and blocking clinic access, with numbers reflecting a two-decade high for such harassment. Now, a year later, a study done by the National Abortion Federation found three times the amount of incidents of trespassing, obstruction and blockades of abortion clinics.

“The hateful and violent rhetoric that is spouted constantly creates a hostile climate where violence thrives,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “When threats go up, violence occurs. You cannot consistently call women and doctors murderers and then escape responsibility when others are emboldened to commit violence.”

Every year, Planned Parenthood assists 2.4 million patients across the United States in obtaining shame-free, safe and affordable sexual and reproductive services. Despite this setback, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky remain dedicated to that historic mission.

“I am putting Allen County Right to Life, and all anti-women’s groups, on notice,” Gillespie said. “You have intimidated and harassed us for the last time in this community. We will be back, stronger than ever before. Because our supporters know that we provide lifesaving, high-quality health care to the thousands of Hoosiers in the Fort Wayne community. No matter what.”


Eleanor Salsbury is a former editorial intern at Ms.