With the Supreme Court poised to overturn abortion rights, Fox News is suddenly up in arms following recent attacks on crisis pregnancy centers -- despite the network’s long history of ignoring violence and harassment targeting abortion providers and patients.
In the weeks after Politico first reported that the Supreme Court is planning to overturn Roe v. Wade’s abortion precedent, some crisis pregnancy centers have been apparently ransacked and defaced. These fake health clinics (often called CPCs) are notorious for deceptively appearing as though they provide abortion services, but in actuality they are meant to dissuade individuals from proceeding with an abortion. The radical group Jane’s Revenge has claimed credit for many of these attacks, seemingly hoping to intimidate anti-abortion advocates and public figures to protect abortion access. These attacks are in complete contrast to the majority of peaceful pro-abortion activism and have been denounced by prominent reproductive choice advocacy groups.
They have also compelled right-wing media to paint the entire pro-choice movement as inherently violent and inspired continued fearmongering that the Roe draft opinion leak would result in left-wing violence. However, anti-abortion extremism poses a much greater threat, evidenced by decades of harassment and violence. The National Abortion Federation has tallied hundreds of violent acts committed by anti-choice extremists, including 37 slayings or attempted murders, 223 arsons or bombings, and 663 threats of anthrax poisoning.
Behind these attacks is an ecosystem of conservative outlets that have sustained extreme anti-abortion rhetoric and downplayed acts of violence and harassment targeting abortion providers. For instance, just last month, Fox host Tucker Carlson mocked the threat of far-right violence against abortion clinics once Roe is overturned.
For years, right-wing media have pushed calls for violence and exacerbated harassment against abortion supporters. After a 2015 mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood left three dead and nine injured, its perpetrator revealed he was influenced by anti-abortion diatribes from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and by online misinformation that the clinic sold “baby parts.” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly repeatedly ridiculed abortion provider Dr. George Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer,” attempting to walk back his comments only after Tiller was assassinated during a church service in 2009.
While recent years show a pattern of escalating violence and threats against abortion providers, right-wing media have largely ignored the monster they have helped created. And now that Roe is on the verge of being overturned, Fox has covered threats by Jane’s Revenge without mentioning the history of attacks by anti-abortion radicals:
- On the June 17 edition of Outnumbered, Fox anchor Julie Banderas called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against CPC attacks because “somebody could lose their life,” adding that he must “be held accountable” for this. Co-host Kayleigh McEnany praised the anti-choice movement, saying it has the “most loving people” and “benevolent organizations.” McEnany also claimed that CPCs “are the ones there when a woman comes in during her darkest hour.”
- Discussing the FBI’s investigation of Jane’s Revenge during The Faulkner Focus, Fox’s Lawrence Jones declared, “We report it but what are they going to do about it -- that’s the real question.” Jones then shared a passage from a Wall Street Journal op-ed that equivocated between left-wing and right-wing violence by comparing attacks on CPCs to the January 6 insurrection and citing “an explosion of political violence on all sides.”
- On June 16, The Five co-host Jesse Watters dismissed the threat of right-wing extremism, saying sarcastically: “Right-wing violence, greatest threat to national security ever. Left-wing violence, just an idea. And where is the FBI? I mean, someone sneezes at a militia group and like 15 FBI members take off their jackets with ‘FBI’ and then arrest everybody.” Watters then decried the lack of an investigation into Jane’s Revenge.
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade compared right-wing extremists to Jane’s Revenge and demanded an investigation of recent attacks on CPCs, saying the government “is great at riling up QAnon. They're great at riling up and vilifying the Proud Boys. What about these guys? When is the president going to speak out about that?”
- During his prime-time Fox show on June 15, host Sean Hannity claimed damage done to crisis pregnancy centers “sounds like a coming insurrection,” using the story to mock authorities for stating that domestic terrorism is the largest threat to the country. “Ask yourself tonight, where is Merrick Garland? Where is the FBI?"