Law enforcement agencies are preparing for unrest and possible violence from extremists following leaked news of the Supreme Court’s opinion to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Federal agencies are warning of possible violence after the court’s opinion was leaked to the news outlet Politico. The majority opinion on the Mississippi case could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a case that famously protected women’s abortion rights.
According to a bulletin from the Colorado Information Analysis Center shared on the Department of Homeland Security’s website, authorities warn that challenges to Roe v. Wade by the judicial branch could inspire civil unrest and widespread violence.
“Law enforcement and public safety officials should anticipate an increase in abortion-related events, rallies and protests with the potential for violence and criminal activity, particularly leading up to and directly following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mississippi case … expected by June 2022,” the bulletin said.
The leak of the draft opinion has already sparked violent protests across the country, including a significant clash between police and protestors in Los Angeles on May 3 — a day after the leak.
The clash resulted in a smashed police car window and several altercations between officers and protestors blocking an intersection downtown after police declared an unlawful assembly.
The bulletin also warned that abortion-related protests and counterprotests could attract violent extremists “with motives unrelated to abortion, including groups or individuals interested in attacking large crowds.”
The bulletin then went on to list incidents of violence against patients or abortion clinics across the country, noting that reports of assaults and battery were up 125% from 2019 to 2020.
The Colorado Information Analysis Center also referenced the 2015 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Office that resulted in the death of three people.
One anonymous U.S. government counterterrorism official told Yahoo News that law enforcement is considered abortion providers may be targeted more frequently in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
“They had targets on their backs before, now it’s that much more,” said the official.
The DHS has been drawing attention to calls for violence online, including a January post by a “suspected white supremacist” calling for attacks against abortion clinics and providers.
The DHS shared the information with federal agencies such as the FBI, CIA and ATF.
The FBI has also been monitoring abortion-related violent extremism in recent years.
“Abortion-related violent extremists seek to further their pro-life or pro-choice ideologies through the threat or use of force or violence against individuals or facilities which provide services in opposition of their beliefs,” the FBI Domestic Terrorism Reference Guide on Abortion-Related Extremists states.
A senior DHS official said that the agency has been more concerned with extremism from the pro-life side in recent years, but that could soon change.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade is a big deal, and it’s going to get pretty intense on both sides, so that’s what we are trying to prepare for. We don’t know what we don’t know,” the official told Yahoo News.