October 5, 2015 — Law enforcement is investigating a case of arson against a Planned Parenthood clinic in southern California late Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports.
Authorities could not say if the attack was in response to the nationwide debate about the organization (Rocha/Mejia, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/1).
The antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress recently released a secretly filmed series of videos targeting Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. In August, Planned Parenthood submitted a report to Congress that found the videos were manipulated, making them unreliable for official inquiries into the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/27).
According to authorities, the latest arson in Thousand Oaks, Calif., follows another attack on the facility about six weeks ago, in which the clinic was vandalized ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/1). In addition, last month, another case of arson temporarily shut down a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington state (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14).
Local authorities said workers at the Planned Parenthood in Thousand Oaks had not been directly threatened before the attack, although they noted the previous vandalism incident.
The fire began at about 11:30 p.m., but emergency services quickly were alerted by the fire alarm, and the clinic's sprinkler system extinguished the flames, according to "L.A. Now." No one was in the clinic when the fire broke out.
Investigators have collected surveillance from the clinic's security cameras.
On Thursday, Jenna Tosh -- CEO of Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo -- said the clinic is "determined to reopen as soon as possible to serve the healthcare needs of our patients." She added that the clinic serves more than 7,000 patients with health care annually, "over 90% of which is life-saving preventive care like cancer screenings, birth control, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treat[ment]."
Julie Mickelberry -- vice president of public policy and community engagement at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo -- denounced the arson, saying that such attacks "are designed to intimidate and harass staff and the patients who visit our health centers." She added, "It's discouraging when people want to stop men and women from accessing life-saving services."
Separately, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, "The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences. It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate healthcare professionals and women is 'OK.' It is not" ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/1).