Anti-Abortion Terrorist Released from Jail
Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon, a convicted anti-abortion terrorist, was released from prison Tuesday. Shannon was convicted of firebombing abortion clinics in Oregon and two other states—a crime for which she was given 20 years in prison. Shannon was also convicted of shooting Dr. George Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country. Dr. Tiller was later murdered by another anti-abortion terrorist in 2009.
Rachelle Shannon and Anti-Abortion Terrorism
Shelley has been released to a halfway house in Oregon. Her sentence will be completed on November 7, when she may go free. Her release has sparked fears at abortion clinics across the country. “This is someone who not only committed multiple acts of violence herself, but also encouraged others to murder abortion providers,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, in a statement. “She has shown zero remorse.”
Shannon has repeatedly asserted that anti-abortion activists are called by God to kill. Of Michael Griffin, the first terrorist to kill an abortion doctor, she said, “I’m not convinced that God didn’t require it of Michael to do this…I’m praying God will push more of us ‘off the deep end.'”
Shannon reportedly inspired Paul Hill, who met with her in prison, to kill two abortion providers. The evening before the trial of Scott Roeder, the convicted killer of Dr. Tiller, Shannon sent an email to another anti-abortion activist asserting that Dr. Tiller “needed to be killed for the sake of justice.”
According to the National Abortion Federation, Shannon inspired other anti-abortion activists to commit acts of violence during her time in prison. Shannon is a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist organization that advocates and commits acts of violence against abortion providers. Army of God members have killed several abortion doctors. The organization also claimed responsibility for Eric Robert Rudolph’s 1997 bombing of an Atlanta abortion clinic and lesbian bar.
How Common is Anti-Abortion Terrorism?
Between 1993 when Shannon committed her attack and 2016, anti-abortion extremists killed 11 people. Bombings at abortion clinics are more common than any other type of bombing, with 42 clinic bombings and 185 arson attacks since 1977. The rate of violent extremism has greatly accelerated since 2015, when the Center for Medical Progress released now-discredited videos smearing Planned Parenthood.
These attacks intimidate women seeking abortion, and put clinic providers in danger. In an attempt to protect women seeking health services, some states have enacted “buffer zone” legislation to prevent potential terrorists from getting too close to clinics. Similar to rules about parking at airport entrances, these laws allow protesters to voice their concerns outside of clinics, but without getting too close or blocking entrances. In 2009, the Supreme Court struck down buffer zone legislation as unconstitutional.