Anti-abortion activists consider tracking license plates and searching tax records to be effective tactics for combating abortion providers in Texas, according to newly released undercover audio.
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Progress Texas on Tuesday posted the audio, which was captured at an Aug. 4 “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed” training hosted by anti-abortion groups at the state Capitol. That training took place the same day that abortion providers kicked off a court challenge to the state’s omnibus abortion law, which would reduce the number of providers available to Texans by requiring all facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center standards.
“The license plates that are coming into any abortion facility, we have a very kind of sophisticated little spreadsheet, everybody keeps track. This way you can track whether or not a client comes back, if they turned away,” Karen Garnett, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, said on the recording. She described that tactic as “totally legal.”
“You have license plates, car make, model, description of the person,” she added. “Then as far as the staff members and the abortionists, you can identify if you got a new abortionist.”
Another speaker, identified as Abby Johnson of Live Action, said that her organization had looked through tax records to determine where an abortion provider may be relocating his clinic.
“These abortionists are feeling the pressure from the pro-life movement in Texas. I think they feel like they’re on the run,” she said on the recording. “And that’s how we want to keep it, we want to keep pressure high on them and let them know they can move wherever they want … We’re still gonna be there outside their clinics, we’re still gonna be praying, we’re still gonna be sidewalk counseling, and we’re still gonna be exposing what’s going on inside these buildings.”
The undercover audio flips the script on anti-abortion groups like Live Action, which sent an activist undercover as a pimp to Planned Parenthood clinics back and 2011 and recorded him asking clinic employees for advice on how to get abortions for the “girls” in his fake prostitution ring without alerting authorities.
In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said that the tactics the anti-abortion activists endorsed in the recording threaten patients.
“With fewer clinics for these stalking protestors to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated,” executive director Heather Busby said. “Texas women are now not only forced to travel hundreds of miles to even access a safe and legal Texas clinic, but once they reach a clinic they must also confront the very real threat posed by these anti-abortion activists. The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives.”