Anti-Abortion Harassment

Acts of terror directed toward abortion providers, recipients and advocates.

The daily threat of terror and violence must stop.

Extremists have focused their attention on harassing and terrorizing abortion providers, organizations, clinics, patients, and advocates. Their activities include but aren’t limited to threats, violence, intimidation, stalking, online harassment and doxxing, and – historically – murder. See the dropdown menu below for more insight into how we help targets of anti-abortion harassment.

“I was referred to C.A. Goldberg to help me with harassment I was facing. The team was professional and responsive, and it was so helpful to know someone was on my side and had the tools to assist.” – ABORTION PROVIDER

C.A. Goldberg, PLLC is also available to support patients, advocates, and practitioners who have safety or liability concerns in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. We stand ready to defend those whose private medical decisions become criminalized, nationwide.

  • Doxxing – Extremists may publish and circulate identifying and/or private information of providers and their families in order to create ‘hit lists’ or encourage other like-minded individuals to harass providers online, at work, or at home.
  • Targeted Online Harassment – Providers, advocates, and patients may be the subject of online harassment on message boards, anti-abortion websites, social media sites, review sites like yelp and google reviews – as part of online campaigns designed to intimidate them.

Reproductive healthcare clinics can be targets of vandalism, trespassing, and other crimes on their property. Buffer zones are defined spaces around clinic entrances that can be established by statute or injunction. Buffer zones enable clinic access for patients by prohibiting certain activities within the defined space (while still allowing space for protest).

The aim of safety planning is to create an intentional plan that reduces the risk of future harm to you and those close to you. It may include: planning for the event of a future crisis, identifying warning signs, considering and assessing options, creating a support network, and making decisions about what you will do now, next, and going forward.

We can identify potential risks, hazards, or vulnerabilities, and analyze what could happen if a risk occurs and how to plan for and minimize it.

Many people would rather not consider the worst case scenario, but it’s important to understand your risk exposure and prepare for the worst as best as you can.  Going through this with an attorney can help you define what you are comfortable taking on, and what you are not.  From there you can use the tools available to protect yourself ahead of time.

We can jump into a harassment situation as it is happening, helping you to manage and document what you are experiencing.  We can then identify the legal tools available to respond and help in a variety of scenarios.

We have helped many abuse victims prepare to speak out against high profile, well-funded, volatile, and often dangerous abusers.

Unfortunately, when someone publicly advocates for access to abortion, they may also face some risk of backlash. We can help mitigate this risk by conducting assessments, advising you on potential hazards, and offering tools to protect your safety and your reputation.

Sometimes, anti-abortion activists re-appropriate articles or photographs published by individuals that write about or work in the reproductive justice community. For example, huge swaths of an article published by an individual telling about their abortion experience will wind up on pro-life websites, inciting readers to harass the storyteller. That’s a copyright infringement. Sometimes they also post the storyteller’s picture that they found elsewhere on the internet. Also a copyright infringement.

We will look at criminal, civil, and available family court remedies to take on and stop stalking behavior. Definitions of stalking vary, but it’s illegal in all 50 states.  Generally, stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.  It’s serious, often violent, and can escalate. If you need legal help, we are here to assist.

Incidents of hacking and security breaches against the reproductive health community has increased as anti-abortion activism has moved online. Online threats are not limited to messages and videos posted to various websites or social media platforms, but have also included sophisticated attacks to the websites, systems, and online infrastructure that individuals and groups rely on to provide information about and access to abortion care. For example, patients have been targeted by geo-fencing technology as they access clinics, or redirected to websites with misinformation or alternative messaging. We recognize these threats and are committed to taking creative action to combat them.

There have been some recent high-profile cases that involve hidden cameras or stealth recording devices that were installed or used unbeknownst to the individuals being recorded. Sometimes these images or recordings wind up on the internet, or become the subject of public controversy. In addition to pursuing criminal proceedings (if available), victims can sue in civil court for the damages suffered as a result of the privacy invasion.

Defamation is a blanket term for a statement that injures someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel.” Spoken defamation is called “slander.” In almost all states, defamation is not a crime. However, a defamed person can sue the defamer. The public perception of what constitutes “defamation” is quite different from the legal definition. This causes disappointment for many would-be litigants. In a defamation lawsuit, the defamed person must prove that there’s been a statement that is all of the following: 1) published, 2) false, 3) injurious, and 4) unprivileged.

Importantly, the statement must be false. Even if the statement is incredibly mean or nasty, if it looks like an opinion, it is not defamation. The plaintiff must prove that it is objectively false. Truth is always a defense in a defamation suit.

A great deal of defamation happens online. Online service providers generally cannot be held liable for content that users post. They can, however, be asked to remove defamatory content and can be subpoenaed to provide user information (e.g. IP address, etc.) about the person who posted the information. Remember, though, if it’s true it’s not defamation, though it may trigger different invasion of privacy claims, depending on the state where the case will be brought.

Four causes of action have been recognized under the tort of invasion of privacy: intrusion upon seclusion, false light, publication of private facts, and appropriation. The privacy torts available to a victim vary depending on the state where the invasion occurred.

In some states you can sue if somebody publicly disclosed private facts about another person, even if those facts are true.  The private facts are those that relate to a person’s personal life that have not been published before, are not of legitimate public concern, and the publication would be offensive to a reasonable person.  Examples would include revealing somebody’s sexually transmitted infection or outing someone’s sexual orientation.

However, public figures must also prove that the nonconsensual disclosure was not newsworthy or a matter of legitimate public interest.  Courts take a broad view of what constitutes newsworthiness or a matter of public interest.  They tend to rule that there is a legitimate public interest in most recent media events and the private lives of prominent figures like movie stars, politicians, and professional athletes.  Fortunately, courts do recognize that even public figures are entitled to retain a zone of privacy relating to things like sexual activity and medical information.

Patients, their companions, providers, and clinic escorts may find they are the subject of digital recordings that are uploaded to the internet to social media sites or websites devoted to anti-choice activity. While filming another in a public place may not be illegal, it is egregious violation of privacy in this context. We are committed to fighting for and protecting your privacy, whether you work at a clinic or have visited one.

We are not your attorney. Nothing on our website, blog, or social media should be interpreted as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on the basis of information on this site without seeking the advice of an attorney. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please keep in mind that the success of any legal matter depends on the unique circumstances of each case: we cannot guarantee particular results for future clients based on successes we have achieved in past legal matters.