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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Genevieve Arnaut, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Krista Brockwood, Ph.D.


During the 1990s, violence committed by individuals who subscribe to an anti-abortion ideology increased. Determining whether an individual or members of a group may become violent is an arduous task, and current threat assessment models are often inadequate when applied to individuals who commit violence for ideological reasons. Anti-abortion shootings are unique and complex phenomena that are impossible to replicate in a laboratory situation. They are a rare but dangerous trend that can only benefit from in-depth study. For these reasons, anti-abortion shootings were studied using a qualitative, collective case study paradigm. Analysis in a collective case study involves examining themes within each case and then across cases in an attempt to find commonalities and begin to answer the questions set out in the purpose of the research. The purpose of this collective case study was to increase understanding of incidents of assassination or attempted assassination by shooting that have been committed by anti-abortion zealots. In turn, such understanding may aid mental health and law enforcement professionals have a better understanding of this phenomenon by assisting in identifying individuals at risk to commit this behavior before they act. Themes found in this analysis were arranged temporally. The first stage, Entrance into the Anti-Abortion Movement, included the main themes of Primitive Defense Mechanisms, Need for Acceptance and Success, and Social Factors. The second stage, Radicalization, consisted of four themes: Extensive Arrest History Stemming from Anti-Abortion Activities, External Influences, Creation of a "Persona," and Belief in Justifiable Homicide. The third stage addressed Pre-Offense Characteristics and included Feelings of Frustration-Aggression, Premeditation and Belief in a Special Relationship with God. The final stage, Post-Offense Characteristics, described the shooters' Lack of Remorse.