Clinics Nationwide on Alert After Ga. Women's Health Facilities Attacked

May 29, 2012 — Abortion clinics and ob-gyn offices across the country are heightening security measures following a series of recent burglaries and fires in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Simmons, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/25).

Earlier this month, fires occurred at an Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics office and a Marietta abortion clinic. There also were burglaries at the Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics office in January and Atlanta Women's Health Group and the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society in March.

Georgia ob-gyns believe that the incidents were retaliatory crimes committed by antiabortion-rights activists. The events came after the enactment of a controversial law (HB 954) that prohibits most abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy. During debate over the legislation, the ob-gyns spoke out against the bill, saying it could prevent treatment for women who have difficult pregnancies (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/25).

The FBI is leading a joint investigation into the possibility of domestic terrorism or civil rights violations related to the burglaries and fires. Jaime Chandra, communications manager at Feminist Women's Health Center in Georgia, said that other women's reproductive health clinics are being alerted to the situation and told to take extra security precautions.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said that the organization is concerned about the rise in crimes, saying, "It's not a good sign when one arson follows another, after following several burglaries." Saporta added that the incidents show "[s]omething clearly is escalating" and that the federation hopes law enforcement will be able to stop the incidents.

Historically, crimes against abortion clinics involve a small number of people with no criminal records and who are not affiliated with antiabortion-rights groups. They believe such groups are all talk and no action, retired ATF agent and spokesperson Jack Killorin said (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/25).