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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-22-97

Tuscaloosa, AL Abortion Clinic is the 13th Arson/Bombing of 1997

Highest Rate of Anti-abortion Violence Since 1984

The July 22nd arson of the West Alabama Women's Center clinic in Tuscaloosa, AL marks the 13th abortion clinic arson or bombing of 1997 -- the highest rate of anti-abortion violence since 1984. The Tuscaloosa clinic sustained massive damage, estimated at $100,000, due to the early morning fire. The clinic has been plagued in the past by threats of clinic violence.
Alarmed by the resurgent wave of abortion clinic arsons and bombings, Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal called for the Tuscaloosa arson to be immediately classified as an incident of "domestic terrorism," and for more federal law enforcement investigative resources to prevent further losses like in Tuscaloosa, and earlier this year in Atlanta, Georgia, Oregon, North Carolina, Northern Virginia, Oklahoma, California, and Montana. "These incidents of violence must not be examined in isolation, but as part of a larger pattern of terror and violence against women's health clinics," continued Smeal. "More investigative resources are needed to determine whether the double bombings in Atlanta claimed by the "Army of God", and the string of arsons across the country since, are connected."

Federal law enforcement officials have issued an alert to clinics throughout the region to increase security measures in the wake of the Tuscaloosa fire. Clinics are urged to take all precautions to safeguard against further arson attacks.

"Every month, women's health clinics are lost or temporarily closed because of anti-abortion violence," continued Smeal. "These clinics -- like the clinic in Tuscaloosa -- often provide not only abortion, but also provide birth control, cancer screening, and general gynecological healthcare services to women. The loss of these clinics harms the availability of reproductive health care for the women who depend on them."

A survey released earlier this year by the Feminist Majority Foundation, reveals that 27.6% of clinics faced severe anti-abortion violence in 1996, including death threats, stalking, bombings, arsons, blockades, invasions and chemical attacks. When gunfire, home picketing, and vandalism are included, the number of clinics and offices experiencing some form of violence, harassment or intimidation rises to 44.9%.

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