A suspicious fire broke out a women's health clinic in Palm Beach County, Florida late Friday night. Dale Armstrong, resident agent investigating the fire with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, said that the fire was started purposefully. “It’s a common method: break a window, throw in an accelerant,” Armstrong told the Associated Press. The fire has damaged the roof of the Women’s Care Centers of Florida clinic and blew out all of the windows. “It’s burnt pretty bad,” said city police detective Donna Murphy, according to the Palm Beach Post. One neighborhood resident has reported that he saw a man walking away from the building shortly before the fire trucks arrived, the Post reports.
The clinic, which has been open for two-and-a-half years, has been the target of protests for the past three weeks.
Although severe clinic violence is down from its peak in 1994, "our national clinic violence survey reveals that violence is still threatening our nation's clinics at an intolerable level," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. FMF’s most recent clinic violence survey found that levels of severe violence have slightly increased in the past two years, from 20 percent of clinics experiencing severe violence in 2000 to 23 percent in 2002. FMF's National Clinic Access Project is the largest of its kind in the US, leading efforts to keep women's health clinics open in the face of a war of attrition waged by abortion opponents.