Late one night earlier this month a man approached their front door and left a flyer with a graphic depiction of an aborted fetus and a message mocking the doctor and midwife about to open an all-trimester clinic in proximity.
“I got physically sick and started shaking,” Youmans said. “I thought, ‘God, where did we move to?’ ”
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wadethe landmark case that legalized abortion, the June ruling allowed 15 states to ban or mostly ban abortion while some high-profile lawmakers in Deep Blue Maryland are considering listing the protection in the state constitution.
The fallout from the ruling has deepened the country’s fissures, with increased nationwide harassment and, in some cases, violence, against abortion providers reaching into pro-clinic liberal enclaves and pitting support for the clinics. residents of access to abortion rights opponents of the First Amendment.
The Youmans learned of the man on their doorstep, known to authorities as an anti-abortion activist, and two women were dropping off the flyers in the neighborhood and at the offices of the medical complex where Partners in Abortion Care could open within weeks.
A spokesperson for Prince George’s County Police said officers have been in contact with the owners of the clinic and stressed that no one has been charged with a crime.
Diane Horvath, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said the clinic had a strong safety plan. She and her business partner, Morgan Nuzzo, a nurse-midwife, also contacted the FBI, which advises providers on things like what to do if there’s an active shooter.
“But we shouldn’t have to fear for our lives now to open a clinic. We shouldn’t have to think about how someone could kill us,” Horvath said in tweet which included a redacted photo of the flyer.
A spokeswoman for Washington The FBI office, which investigates violations of federal civil rights laws, including a civil rights law that prohibits intimidating or interfering with a person giving or seeking abortion care, declined to comment on the leaflet.
The first time Horvath’s work on abortion intruded on her personal life, she found a photo of herself on an anti-abortion website. She was holding her 15 month old daughter in the picture.
“That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to shut up about it,” she said.
But they are careful. Before Horvath and Nuzzo began publicly raising funds for their clinic, they hired a company to identify any security issues in their online data. Horvath’s tweets about the flyer helped raise $8,000 on their GoFundMe page, she said.
“I think they picked the wrong community this time,” she said.
With Access at Risk, 2 Women Open Late Abortion Clinic in Maryland
Shyamala Rajan said she also received the flyer and found the content “very offensive” and the way it was left late at night “immoral”.
“I’m not pro-abortion,” she said, standing on her doorstep. “I am for a woman’s right to do what is right for her.” She didn’t know the clinic was moving less than an eight-minute walk from her home until she received the flyer, but she supports the business. “Now you need it more than ever. You need that safe space.
Youmans, a mother of two who volunteered for Planned Parenthood in Arizona years ago, said she’s still coming to terms with the reality that deer was knocked down but never imagined the fight would follow her to College Park.
“I think we should be outraged by that,” she said.
College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said that while he hosted the clinic and supported its mission to prioritize abortion later in pregnancy, council members did not discuss the flyers.
“We respect the ability of the police to do their job and not get directly involved,” he said.
John Rigg, a College Park council member who has lived in the neighborhood closest to the clinic, Calvert Hills, since 2007, said city officials assured him county police would keep patients safe and personnel without infringing rights of protesters.
The office complex where the clinic will open takes up most of a city block and includes many other doctors’ offices, including Rigg’s optometrist and her children’s pediatrician, and future protests cannot prevent access. patients, he said.
“I strongly believe that women’s health care includes abortion,” Rigg said. “I believe that is a strong opinion throughout the College Park community.”
In the South and Midwest, within one month of the decision reversing deer, at least 43 clinics have stopped offering abortion services in 11 states that banned abortion completely or from six weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that supports the right to abortion.
Many women who have been denied care will travel to more permissive states, including Maryland, where an abortion can be performed at or after viability if the patient’s life or health is in danger or there is a fetal anomaly. Local officials have tried to help clinics cope with the surge in patients.
Montgomery County will award $1 million in grants to organizations that directly support access to abortion care. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (right) calls for a 15-week abortion ban, but Alexandria City Council plans to relax zoning requirements for new clinics and fund abortion services for low-income residents.
Beginning with the leak of the draft advisory in May, the National Abortion Federation has tracked an increase in everything from threatening online messages to death threats, said Melissa Fowler, the group’s program director.
NAF identified the man who distributed the flyers in College Park from security camera footage, Fowler said. He has ties to Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, a group of anti-abortion activists who brag about their arrest records and move from place to place targeting clinics and providers.
“It’s not the first or the last thing this person is going to do,” clinic owner Nuzzo said. “We are in a blue state, but look at this. These people are everywhere.
Scott Clement, Peter Hermann and Peter Jamison contributed to this report.