Winter 2024 Sneak Peek: Inside a Violent Clinic Invasion

The cover of Ms.’ Winter 2024 issue.

At 9:05 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, a group of anti-abortion extremists from at least six states forced their way into the Washington Surgi-Clinic, a facility that provides abortion care in Washington, D.C. Some bound themselves together with chains, ropes and bike locks to block access to the clinic’s patient area. Others obstructed access to its employee entrance. Several used their bodies to try to prevent patients from entering the facility. Still more moved about assaulting patients—mostly verbally, but in one case physically—in the waiting room, a hallway and even in the small elevators leading to the fourth-floor clinic.

So begins investigative reporter Amanda Robb’s alarming account of a violent attack on an abortion clinic in the nation’s capital. Her article reveals, for the first time, how a clinic invasion was planned and executed—piecing together court testimony, FBI agents’ forensic analysis of the social media and cell phone records, footage obtained from the clinic’s security cameras and responding police officers’ body cameras, as well as the extremists’ own Facebook livestream.

Father Fidelis Mochinski is forcibly removed from a Washington, DC clinic after trespassing to attempt to stop patients from having abortions on May 14, 2020. (Courtesy of We Engage)

Nine extremists were ultimately found guilty not only for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, but also on felony conspiracy charges. As Robb wrote, this additional charge “affirms what abortion rights advocates have documented and tried to bring to authorities’ attention for decades: Anti-abortion extremists—including its most violent actors—are connected and coordinated.”

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Here’s a glimpse at what else you’ll find within the pages of the upcoming issue:

  • From rape threats and misogynistic slurs to sexual harassment and doxing—a Ms. report on how online abuse is used to intimidate, discredit and silence people, and what all of us can do about it.

  • The first step to stopping gender apartheid: Women activists in Afghanistan and Iran are calling on the international community to “name, describe and proscribe” this crime against humanity.

  • ‘Women, Life, Freedom’: an excerpt from the new book by Iranian human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh gives her firsthand account of how women suffer under gender apartheid.

  • Watch and weep—Ms.’ television critic picks the top 10 most disappointing series cancellations of 2023.
Police officer in the doorway at Washington Surgi-Center during the clinic blockade on Oct. 22, 2020. (Courtesy of We Engage)

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Camille Hahn is the managing editor at Ms. In her 15-plus years with the magazine, she has served as research editor, associate editor, features editor, copyeditor and proofreader. Previously, she worked as an associate editor at Bon Appétit. She lives in Davis, Calif.