Cyber Attacks Stymie Abortion Fundraiser

Bowl-a-Thon hack affects Lilith Fund


Part of "Our Stories Will Not Be Erased," a traveling exhibit of abortion experiences that visited Spider House on Sat., April 16 (Photo by John Anderson)

Anti-choice activists waged a series of cyber attacks against the National Network of Abortion Funds last week. Hackers apparently gained access to a list of registered Bowl-a-Thon participants and sent a flood of anti-choice propaganda to that list. According to Rewire, and confirmed by NNAF policy representative Renee Bracey Sherman, one email included an image of a fetus with a thought bubble reading: "I hope I grow up big enough to go bowling someday."

NNAF is a national network of local, primarily grassroots organizations working to fund abortions and advocate for both political and social change. Its Bowl-a-Thon is a nationwide fundraiser put on to aid local nonprofits such as the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity in Texas.

"The Bowl-a-Thon site recently received several hundred fake donations apparently intended to cause a 'denial-of-service attack,' which caused the payment card processing site supporting Bowl-a-Thon to go down," NNAF said in its official statement. "In addition, the attackers made a series of fake donations in a manner that caused operational problems for the site supporting Bowl-a-Thon. We are actively investigating this incident, are coordinating with law enforcement, and, out of an abundance of caution, have temporarily disabled the Bowl-a-Thon website until it is determined that the site may be safely reactivated."

This "directly impacts our ability to fundraise and to provide financial assistance to people in Texas seeking an abortion," said Lilith Fund president Schell Carpenter. "Fortunately, our own website is still online and taking donations, and our supporters have been stepping up in reaction to the attacks. We'll figure out a way to replace what we would've raised via this part of Bowl-a-Thon, that's for sure, but there's still an impact."

In the current climate of abortion rights, this latest attack is greatly unsettling. "It's another piece of evidence that anti-abortion extremists have no limit to what they will do," said Carpenter. "They've dehumanized entire groups of people, so it seems to be easy for them to justify anything they do to attack us.


Though the NNAF site is down until further notice, Bowl-a-Thon events are still being held across the country, and donations can be made directly to www.lilithfund.org.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct an earlier version which stated that hackers infiltrated NNAF email accounts. A spokesperson for NNAF said their email accounts were not in fact infiltrated. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

National Network of Abortion Funds, Lilith Fund

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