Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 611–627

The Impact of State Laws Protecting Abortion Clinics and Reproductive Rights on Crimes Against Abortion Providers: Deterrence, Backlash, or Neither?

Original Research

Abstract

Since Roe v. Wade, most states have passed laws either restricting or further protecting reproductive rights. During a wave of anti-abortion violence in the early 1990s, several states also enacted legislation protecting abortion clinics, staff, and patients. One hypothesis drawn from the theoretical literature predicts that these laws provide a deterrent effect and thus fewer anti-abortion crimes in states that protect clinics and reproductive rights. An alternative hypothesis drawn from the literature expects a backlash effect from radical members of the movement and thus more crimes in states with protective legislation. We tested these competing hypotheses by taking advantage of unique data sets that gauge the strength of laws protecting clinics and reproductive rights and that provide self-report victimization data from clinics. Employing logistic regression and controlling for several potential covariates, we found null effects and thus no support for either hypothesis. The null findings were consistent across a number of different types of victimization. Our discussion contextualizes these results in terms of previous research on crimes against abortion providers, discusses alternative explanations for the null findings, and considers the implications for future policy development and research.

Keywords

Abortion Violence Deterrence Domestic terrorism Political crime 

References

  1. Akins, J. K. (1998). God, guns, and guts: Religion and violence in Florida militias. Ph.D. Dissertation, Graduate School of the University of Florida.Google Scholar
  2. American Religion Data Archive. (2003). Religious Congregations and Cembership Ctate Report. Available online at http://www.thearda.com/test_main.asp?Show=RCMS2000. (Accessed March 15, 2003). A list of Evangelical Protestant groups is available from the ARDA website: http://www.thearda.com/RCMS /2000/Denoms/evangelical.html.Google Scholar
  3. Baird-Windle, P., & Bader, E. J. (2001). Targets of hatred: Anti-abortion terrorism. New York: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baller, R. D., Anselin, L., Messner, S. F., Deane, G., & Hawkins, D. F. (2001). Structural covariates of U.S. county homicide rates: Incorporating spatial effects. Criminology, 39, 561–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beccaria, C. (1963). On crimes and punishments. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Blanchard, D. A. (1994). The anti-abortion movement and the rise of the religious right: From polite to fiery protest. New York: Twayne Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Blanchard, D. A., & Prewitt, T. J. (1993). Religious violence and abortion: The Gideon project. Gainsville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  8. Brehm, S. S., & Brehm, J. (1981). Psychological reactance: A theory of freedom and control. Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chatterjee, S., & Hadi, A. S. (1988). Sensitivity analysis in linear regression. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  10. Chermak, S. (2002). Searching for a demon: The media construction of the militia movement. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Churchill, R. (2001). The highest and holiest duty of freemen: Revolutionary libertarianism in American history. Ph.D. Dissertation, History Department, Rutgers University.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, A. (1987). Moral reform and the anti-abortion movement. Sociological Review, 35, 123–149.Google Scholar
  13. Donohue, J. J., & Levitt, S. D. (2003). Further evidence that legalized abortion lowered crime: A reply to Joyce. NBER Working Paper 9532. Available online at http://www.nber.org/papers/w9532.Google Scholar
  14. Donohue, J. J., & Levitt, S. D. (2001). The impact of legalized abortion on crime. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116, 379–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2001). Crime in the United States, 2000, uniform crime reports. Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation.Google Scholar
  16. Finer, L. B., & Henshaw, S. K. (2003). Abortion incidence and services in the United States in 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35, 6–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fox, J. (1991). Regression diagnostics: An introduction. Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences (pp. 07–079). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Francisco, R. A. (2005). The dictator's dilemma. In C. Davenport, H. Johnston, & C. Mueller (Eds.), Repression and mobilization: Social movements, protest and contention (pp. 58–81). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  19. Freilich, J. D. (2003). American militias: State-level variations in militia activities. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.Google Scholar
  20. Freilich, J. D., Pichardo-Almanzar, N., & Rivera, C. (1999). How social movement organizations explicitly and implicitly promote deviant behavior: The case of the militia movement. Justice Quarterly, 16, 655–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freilich, J. D., & Pridemore, W. A. (2006). Mismeasuring militias: Limitations of advocacy group data and of state-level studies of paramilitary groups. Justice Quarterly, 23, 147–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Freilich, J. D., & Pridemore, W. A. (2005). A reassessment of state-level covariates of militia groups. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 23, 527–546.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Freilich, J. D., & Pridemore, W. A. (2007). Female empowerment, paramilitary culture, and political crime: Covariates of abortion clinic attacks in the United States.. Forthcoming in Journal of Criminal Justice.Google Scholar
  24. Gamson, W. (1975). The strategy of social protest. Homewood, IL: Dorsey.Google Scholar
  25. Green, J. C. (1999). The spirit willing: Collective identity and the development of the Christian Right. In J. Freeman & V. Johnson (Eds.), Waves of protest: Social movements since the 1960s (pp. 153–167). New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Gurr, T. (1970). Why men rebel. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hewitt, C. (2003). Understanding terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Hewitt, C. (2000). The political context of terrorism in America: Ignoring extremists or pandering to them? Terrorism and Political Violence, 12, 325–344.Google Scholar
  29. Huber, P. J. (1967). The behavior of maximum likelihood estimates under nonstandard conditions. In Proceedings of the Fifth Berkeley Symposium Mathematical Statistics and Probability (vol. 1, pp. 221–223). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jurgensmeyer, M. (2000). Terror in the mind of God: The global rise of religious violence. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kahane, L. H. (2000). Anti-abortion activities and the market for abortion services: Protest as a disincentive. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 59, 463–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kaplan, J. (1996). Absolute rescue: Absolutism, defensive action and the resort to force. In M. Barkun (Ed.), Millennialism and violence (pp. 128–163). London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd.Google Scholar
  33. Kaplan, J. (1993). America's last prophetic witness: The literature of the rescue movement. Terrorism and Political violence, 5(3), 58–77.Google Scholar
  34. Kenney, D. J., & Revland, M. (2002). Public order policing: A national survey of abortion-related conflict. Journal of Criminal Justice, 30, 355–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. LaFree, G., Korte, R., & Dugan, L. (2006). Deterrence and defiance models on terrorist violence in Northern Ireland, 1969–1992. Unpublished manuscript currently under review.Google Scholar
  36. Lipset, S., & Raab, E. (1970). The Politics of unreason: Right-wing extremism in America (pp. 1790–1970). New York: Harper Torchbook.Google Scholar
  37. Lo, C. Y. H. (1982). Counter-movements and conservative movements in the contemporary U.S. Annual Review of Sociology, 8, 107–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lonsway, K. A., Jackman, J., Koenig, E., Leader, J., & Campos, P. (2003). 2002 National Clinic Violence Survey Report. Available online at http://www.feminist.org/research/cvsurveys/clinic_survey2002.pdf.Google Scholar
  39. Lonsway, K. A., Sefl, T., Jackman, J., Cicero, M., Wood, M., Koenig, E., & Aguilar, S. (2001). 2000 National Clinic Violence Survey Report. Available online at http://www.feminist.org/research/cvsurveys/clinic_survey2000.pdf.Google Scholar
  40. Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc. (93-880), 512 U.S. 753 (1994).Google Scholar
  41. Mason, C. (2002). Killing for life: The apocalyptic narrative of pro-life politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Maxwell, C. J. C. (2002). Pro-life activists in America: Meaning, motivation, and direct action. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. McAdam, D. (1982). Political process and the development of black insurgency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. McCauley, C. (2006). Forthcoming. Jujitsu politics: Terrorism and responses to terrorism. In P. Kimmel & C. Stout (Eds.), Psychology of terrorism. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  45. McPhail, C., & McCarthy, J. (2005). Protest mobilization, protest repression, and their interaction. In C. Davenport, H. Johnston, & C. Mueller (Eds.), Repression and mobilization: Social movements, protest and contention (pp. 3–32). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  46. McVeigh, R., & Sikkink, D. (2001). God, politics, and protest: Religious beliefs and the legitimation of contentious politics. Social Forces, 79, 1425–1448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nagin, D., & Patternoster, R. (1993). Enduring individual differences and rational choice theories of crime. Law and Society Review, 27, 467–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. NARAL Foundation. (2001). Who decides? A state-By-State Review Of Abortion And Reproductive Rights, 10th edition. Available online at http://www.naral.org/mediaresources/publications/2001/whod.html. (Accessed March 15, 2003).Google Scholar
  49. Nice, D. C. (1988). Abortion clinic bombings as political violence. American Journal of Political Science, 32, 178–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pitcavage, M. (2001). Camouflage and conspiracy: The militia movement from Ruby Ridge to Y2K. American Behavioral Scientist, 44, 957–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rogers, W. H. (1993). Regression standard errors in clustered samples. Stata Technical Bulletin, 13, 19–23.Google Scholar
  52. Sherman, L. (1993). Defiance, deterrence, and irrelevance: A theory of criminal sanction. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 30, 445–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Smith, B. L. (1994). Terrorism in America: Pipe bombs and pipe dreams. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  54. Stern, J. (2003). Terror in the name of God: Why religious militants kill. New York: HarperCollins Publishing.Google Scholar
  55. Tyler, T. R. (2000). Multiculturalism and the willingness of citizens to defer law and legal authorities. Law and Social Inquiry, 25, 983–1019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tyler, T. R. (1990). Why people obey the law: Procedural justice, legitimacy and compliance. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  57. United States Census Bureau. (2002) Census Summary File 3. Available online at http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2002/sumfile3.html. (Accessed December 4, 2002).Google Scholar
  58. Van Dyke, N., Soule, S. A., & Widom, R. (2001). The politics of hate: Explaining variation in the incidence of anti-gay hate crime. In B. A. Dobratz, L. K. Waldner, & T. Buzznell (Eds.), Research in political sociology, Volume 9: The politics of social inequality (pp. 35–58). Amsterdam: JAI.Google Scholar
  59. White, H. (1980). A heteroskedasticity-consistent covariance matrix estimator and a direct test for heteroskedasticity. Econometrica, 48, 817–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Williams, R. L. (2000). A note on robust variance estimation for cluster-correlated data. Biometrics, 56, 645–646.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zwerman, G., & Steinhoff, P. (2005). When activists ask for trouble: State-dissident interactions and the new left cycle of resistance in the United States and Japan. In C. Davenport, H. Johnston, & C. Mueller (Eds.), Repression and mobilization: Social movements, protest and contention (pp. 85–107). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana UniversityDepartment of Criminal JusticeBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeDepartment of SociologyNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations