Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Abortion Providers Raise Security Concerns After Planned Parenthood Shooting


Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper is an OB-GYN who performs abortions at Planned Parenthood and at a hospital in the Washington, D.C., area, and she joins us now. Welcome to the show.

DIANE HORVATH-COSPER: Thank you very much.

MCEVERS: Tell us; what did you first think when you heard the news from Colorado?

HORVATH-COSPER: You know, I was surprised and not surprised. I think we're always surprised when violence of this magnitude happens. But then, you know, you take the time to think about how it connects to the hateful rhetoric and vitriol that's directed at providers and patients, and then it actually isn't surprising.

MCEVERS: As the attack was happening on Friday, did you put yourself, you know, in the shoes of the people who were working at the clinic? Did you imagine yourself in that scenario and what you would do?

HORVATH-COSPER: I think we can't help but put ourselves in the shoes, you know? I think that's, obviously, like, our worst nightmare, something like that happening in clinic.


HORVATH-COSPER: And it's very difficult not to have it affect you personally.

MCEVERS: I mean, one interesting thing to hear after the attack in Colorado was the - about the intense, you know, safety measures that they took at the clinic and that people take at many Planned Parenthood clinics. Is that something you do as well?

HORVATH-COSPER: Yeah. I think, as a physician, I take care to not identify myself as a physician coming in and out of the clinic. I think we're always very aware of our surroundings as we move about the city. I think about the possibility that there's going to be a bomb in my car every time I turn the ignition. And there's a split second where I think about it. And then the car starts, and it's OK. But I - it's ever-present.

MCEVERS: I understand that every few months, you actually Google yourself.

HORVATH-COSPER: Yes (laughter). I've actually set up Google alerts as well, so things ping back to me. But I do it because I have chosen to be public on social media and chosen to identify myself as an abortion provider. And I wanted to know what was being said about me out in the cyber world.

MCEVERS: And what have you found?

HORVATH-COSPER: So I recently found that I was listed on a website that lists me as part of the abortion cartel and has several photos of me. In one of them, I am holding my daughter, who was 15 months old at the time.

MCEVERS: And what did the website say?

HORVATH-COSPER: So I think that the purpose of the website is pretty clear. I think it's to put your information out there so that you'll be intimidated into not being an abortion provider. And they've listed my office address and my medical licenses and where I went to school and all of the articles and op-eds that I have published and had them all linked to the page.

MCEVERS: Is this something common? Does this happen to other abortion providers?

HORVATH-COSPER: It's happened to friends. Certainly people who have come out also and identified themselves publicly have shown up on the same website and other websites as well.

MCEVERS: I mean, how is the community talking about what's happened in Colorado? I mean, are there people saying, we have to take even more strict security measures? Are there some people who are saying, maybe we shouldn't be so public about what we do?

HORVATH-COSPER: I think that we are a family in our, you know, community of providers and staff who work at the clinics. And we really rally around each other at these times. We've all got good safety measures in place. And perhaps those safety measures prevented additional loss of life in the case in Colorado Springs. I think that while some of us have chosen to stop providing abortions because of these threats and intimidation, I think the vast majority of us - it just really strengthens our resolve to continue to provide care for our patients and to be motivated by our consciences to do what's right.

MCEVERS: And that's your decision. But you talk about this picture of your daughter on this website. I mean, do you think about...


MCEVERS: ...The safety of your family?

HORVATH-COSPER: Of course I do. I think you - I would be foolhardy not to. I do think about my daughter's safety. I think about, you know, the kinds of things that she might come across, as she gets older, in social media and the things that she reads and hears. But I also think about the idea that she's going to see me - she's going to grow up seeing me fight to take care of women in the way that they deserve to be cared for. And I'm proud of that. I still worry about her, but I'm proud of what I do.

MCEVERS: That's Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper. She is an OB-GYN in the Washington, D.C., area who performs abortions at a hospital and at Planned Parenthood. Thank you so much.

HORVATH-COSPER: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.