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Pro-life activist Jim Pouillon.

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It was Sept. 11, 2009, just outside a high school in the small Michigan town of Owosso when Jim Pouillon, 63, was murdered for doing what he thought was right: protesting against abortion, which he considered murder.

Like many pro-life activists, the elderly Pouillon, a volunteer with Operation Save America who relied on an oxygen tank to breathe, was peacefully holding a sign featuring a graphic picture of an abortion victim. He had been trying to stop abortion since 1988.

The goal of his particular brand of activism: force people to visualize and understand the reality of abortion, and to help stop it.

Local resident Harlan James Drake, however, had other plans. Apparently he was disturbed by the images of abortion victims, police said later.

So, on 9/11, Drake loaded his gun, and from his vehicle, shot Pouillon, killing him. It was about 7:20 a.m.

The pro-abortion killer promptly fled the scene and killed another man.

“I just shot one person, I might as well go shoot anyone else I thought deserved to be shot that day,” Drake testified later during his prosecution, which also featured the killer cracking jokes in court.

He confessed to the shooting before claiming to be insane. The jury found Drake guilty of murder and the judge sentenced him to life in prison.

While Pouillon was hailed as a “martyr” by many pro-life leaders, the national press barely noticed the murder. Some media outlets even tried to smear him – starting on the day he was murdered.

Most were still busy demonizing the pro-life movement for the killing, months earlier, of late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Instead of endlessly fretting about the threat of pro-abortion terrorism and murder – as generally happens in the exceedingly rare instances when abortionists are targeted – much of the press responded to Pouillon’s murder by seeking to smear the late activist’s reputation.

Pro-abortion violence is widespread

Most of the attacks aimed at pro-life activists, of course, are less extreme than Pouillon’s case.

However, a two-week review by WND revealed that violence against opponents of abortion is not only common and widespread – it is often tolerated or even tacitly encourage by much of the media, some elements within law enforcement, and the powerful abortion industry.

The list of brutal beatings, attacks, vandalism, and other crimes perpetrated against pro-life activists, for instance, is virtually endless.

In mid-2012, for example, a Personhood USA leaders’ home was violently vandalized by pro-abortion extremists after a profile on the couple appeared in the media.

A large rock was also thrown through the window, scattering glass across their three young children’s toys. The couple was also expecting another child.

Later that week, pro-life volunteer Everett Stadig, then 69, was brutally assaulted while collecting signatures for a pro-life initiative in Colorado.

He was hospitalized with multiple serious injuries and underwent surgery for a broken hip sustained in the unprovoked attack.

The year before, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an abortion supporter viciously attacked peaceful pro-life protesters outside a late-term abortion clinic.

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One of the victims, Bud Shaver, was left bleeding profusely after suffering a deep gash on his head requiring stiches that was inflicted by the attacker, who used keys as a weapon.

The year before that attack, the same victim, Shaver, was almost deliberately run over by a longtime abortion supporter who jumped the curb with his delivery truck.

Two weeks before that, a man was arrested with weapons at the same clinic after threatening to murder two pro-life women.

In Kalispell, Montana, an unknown assailant firebombed 40 Days for Life prayer vigil participants praying peacefully outside an abortion clinic in 2011.

The list of similar incidents is practically endless, though media coverage is sparse to non-existent.

More common still are incidents such as spitting, throwing items, and verbal abuse directed at activists and counselors peacefully standing or praying outside of abortion clinics.

Death threats against leaders and activists within the pro-life movement, meanwhile, are practically an everyday occurrence, multiple pro-life leaders who have received such threats told WND in interviews.

In 2012, a self-styled “pro-choice terrorist,” Theodore Shulman, 51, of New York pleaded guilty to making death threats against two prominent pro-life leaders.

When he was arrested before being able to launch his attacks, Shulman was found to be in possession of cyanide and castor beans, which are used to make the deadly toxin ricin – A substance that can kill victims exposed to it, even in tiny amounts.

While Shulman made headlines and eventually faced justice for his threats, countless other perpetrators do not.

Despite the occasional headlines about it, the prevalence of violence, threats, and abuse against pro-life activists and sidewalk counselors by abortion activists is far more widespread than media coverage would suggest.

Comprehensive data on attacks and crimes against pro-lifers for their views and activities, however, is not maintained by any government agency.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request from WND for an explanation on why statistics on the phenomenon were not tracked.

Anecdotal evidence and the statistical research by analysts that does exist, though, suggest pro-choice violence is a major problem in the United States that has been largely unaddressed by government, media, and the abortion industry.

The numbers that do exist

Human Life International, a non-profit dedicated to defending “the God-given right to life and dignity of all human persons,” compiled massive amounts of data surrounding violence and crimes perpetrated for the pro-abortion cause.

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The latest report on the numbers, released in 2011, documents a stunning level of criminality perpetrated under the pro-choice banner. More recent data has not been released.

Figures relating directly to attacks on pro-life activists are interspersed across the data along with a broad range of other “pro-choice” violence and criminality.

Still, the numbers tell a story that activists said was shocking.

Between 2011 and the controversial Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in 1973 striking down state laws criminalizing the killing of unborn children, for example, HLI researchers documented nearly 6,000 incidents of “‘pro-choice’ violence against human beings.”

Those figures, which likely drastically underestimate the true total, include everything from violence against pro-life activists and kidnappings to arson, aggravated battery, and murders of women who refuse to abort their unborn children.

The report documented more than 400 death threats, too, though again, the real numbers are likely far higher.

In all, the report also documented 874 “pro-choice” crimes against property.

The grand total for pro-choice violence and crimes was nearly 12,000, according to HLI’s report.

Brian Clowes, director of research and training at Human Life International, which compiled the report, told WND in an interview that the number of crimes perpetrated under banner of “choice” was far beyond even the most outlandish estimates of crimes perpetrated by supporters of the pro-life camp.

According to the National Abortion Federation’s 2011 tally cited in HLI’s report, for example, pro-life activists were involved in 29 incidents of deadly and extreme violence.

By contrast, HLI found more than 1,100 incidents from the pro-abortion side.

Even those numbers, though, almost certainly underestimate the problem by several orders of magnitude.

“My wife and I spent years on the sidewalks in front of some of the worst abortion mills in the country in Portland, Oregon,” Clowes explained. “At first, there were several assaults, and the good Christians we were with declined to press charges because they wanted to ‘turn the other cheek’ like Jesus did.”

“This only encouraged the cowards, and the assaults got more frequent and more violent,” he said.

Because of that, Clowes still encourages activists and sidewalk counselors who operate outside abortion clinics to report attacks to the police – and if possible, videotape the incident.

“We have the right to protest and the right to be free of harm doing so,” he said. “If a pro-lifer is assaulted and does nothing about it, it shows a lack of respect for his or her fellow pro-lifers, since others will be assaulted.”

Despite the daily attacks on pro-lifers, the national media and even the federal government continue to paint pro-life activists as potential threats.

And authorities have refused to keep track of violence against pro-life activists, and attacks often go unpunished and unreported.

“This is largely a result of the cover that abortionists have received in the media – there is not enough of an uproar,” explained Clowes.

“Even the agents working for the old VAAPCON – Violence Against Abortion Providers – task force knew that the violence lay on the pro-abortion side,” he added.

Because of biased media coverage in favor of abortion and demonizing pro-life activists, the public by and large has not yet realized the need to monitor pro-choice violence more closely.

Indeed, when HLI compiled the first-ever comprehensive report on such violence, it, too, was largely ignored by the media.

‘Almost no reporting’

“There was almost no reporting on it,” Clowes said.

“It does not support the narrative that abortion is not only a constitutional ‘right,’ but is good for women,” he added. “The blackout of these facts remains in effect.”

Like others in the pro-life movement, Clowes suggested a link between legally “killing for a living” and “a much higher propensity than most people to commit violence.”

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“It shouldn’t surprise us, but it should appall us and move us to look more carefully at the connection,” he said.

When it comes to law enforcement’s response to crimes against pro-lifers, Clowes said most cops “are good at what they do and fair minded.”

They also do take the most serious crimes against pro-life activists and counselors – murder and attempted murder, for example – seriously, he said.

“But there have been hundreds of instances when police have actually witnessed attacks on pro-lifers and have simply done nothing,” Clowes added, echoing a widespread concern among activists and leaders who spoke with WND for this story. “I have seen this several times myself.”

“In many cases a pro-lifer might accidently put his or her little toe over an injunction line, and that person is instantly arrested and carted off to jail,” he observed, again giving voice to a common perception among those who stand peacefully outside abortion clinics in an effort to help women and rescue unborn children for the clutches of abortionists.

Among the most revealing data points uncovered by Clowes and HLI in their research was “the incredible number of women murdered for refusing abortion – and we probably know about only a small percentage of them.”

“More women are dying of murder for refusing abortion than ever died of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade, yet the feminists, who profess to care so deeply about women, never say a word about it,” Clowes told WND.

“You want a ‘war against women?’ It is being waged every day by so-called ‘pro-choice’ men,” he added.

“Regardless, the far greater crime is abortion itself, which happens over 3,000 times a day. This is what must be stopped.”

Violence and attacks on the rise

One of the activists on the frontlines of the national abortion debate every day is Mark Harrington, the executive director of Created Equal.

His organization, a national pro-life group, suffers from especially frequent attacks due to displays of graphic pictures and videos of aborted children and the process of abortion.

While acknowledging that hard data does not exist to confirm his experiences, Harrington told WND in a phone interview that crimes against pro-life activists were on the rise.

“Overall, in my 20 years of activism, I’ve definitely seen an increase recently in violence and attacks,” he said.

Among the possible reasons for that, Harrington suspects that abortion advocates realize they are losing the battle in the realm of public opinion, as well as in state legislatures across the country.

“In the last 3 or 4 years we’ve seen just an exponential increase in the amount of pro-life legislation that has passed in states across America,” he said.

The shifting momentum in favor of life, he said, makes abortion proponents nervous.

“So people on the other side are getting more radical and resorting to things that they wouldn’t resort to in the past,” Harrington said.

“The tide has turned and now that they are on the losing end, in general, we see increased resistance among those who are more vocal, more willing to break the law, more willing to do whatever is necessary to win,” he added.

Recent attacks on video part of trend

Just in the last few years, Harrington continued, there have been a growing number of high-profile attacks on pro-life movement activists.

The murder of Pouillon in Michigan may have been the most extreme, but less severe crimes against pro-lifers perpetrated by abortion advocates are also on the rise.

As one example, he pointed to a recent case in which a radical “feminist studies” professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara was prosecuted for assaulting and terrorizing 16-year-old Thrin Short and other pro-life activists on campus with the group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.

After stealing signs from the young pro-life activists, the professor eventually pushes and assaults two of them, resulting in minor injuries.

Written by Alex Newman
Read more at WND

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