Undercover Audio Reveals Anti-Abortion Tactics

Anti-abortion activists monitor and track providers, patients

Anti-abortion protesters show their support for newly enacted abortion restrictions.
Anti-abortion protesters show their support for newly enacted abortion restrictions.
photo by Jana Birchum

Anti-abortion activists in Texas employ strategies to identify and monitor abortion patients, investigate abortion providers and clinic staff, and search tax records to find locations of abortion providers, according to newly released undercover audio.

The audio, from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Progress Texas, was recorded during a training session at the Capitol hosted by several anti-abortion groups. Entitled, “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed," the recording reveals the disturbing lengths anti-abortion advocates take to track, monitor and intimidate abortion providers, clinic staff, and patients.

For instance, Karen Garnett of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas instructs the audience on how to track license plates as well as car make, model, and description of the patients visiting abortion clinics and lauds causing cancelled abortion procedures by “lining the sidewalks” of abortion clinics. “You track license plates […] coming into any abortion facility. We have a very sophisticated spreadsheet. This way you can track whether or not a client comes back.”

Another speaker refers to monitoring the percentage of abortion clinic closures as “keeping score” and cites the number of clinic staffers who quit, to applause. The “poorer ones,” she said, heard the abortion clinic in their area was going to close and visited an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center instead. “God is good,” she said.

Anti-abortion poster child Abby Johnson of Live Action discusses how her group investigated appraisal district records to find the new location of where an Austin abortion physician plans to work. “We know where he will be moving if he loses the case […] These abortionists are feeling the pressure from the pro-life movement in Texas. I think they feel like they’re on the run. And that’s how we want to keep it.”

The session took place on Aug. 4 – the same day that the trial against Texas’ abortion law, House Bill 2, began. The final provision of the law is expected to reduce the number of abortion clinics to as few as six.

“The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB 2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are those outside abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers,” said Heather Busby of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas in a statement. “With fewer clinics for these stalking protestors to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated.

“The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives.”

As the reproductive rights group points out, abortion providers face threats and violence, including bombings, shootings, vandalism, and harassment.

Since 1993, eight clinic workers, including four doctors and two clinic employees have been killed by anti-abortion violence in the United States. Since 1991, a recorded 17 murder attempts have taken place.

To view the video, watch here via Progress Texas.

For more, check out our War on Women's Health page.

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