A Planned Parenthood clinic in Thousand Oaks (Los Angeles) was the target of an arson attack this week. This is the second time the particular clinic has been vandalized within the past six weeks. Someone broke a window, poured gasoline inside, and lit it. Thanks to an emergency sprinkler system, there was minimal damage to the clinic. The attack took place at around 11:30 pm and no one was inside at the time.
Setting a clinic ablaze in the middle of the night when no one is there is still terrorism. Whoever set the fire knew this was not the first arson attack, not the first clinic bombing, not the first murder of a doctor. This single act didn’t need bloodshed of its own to evoke past events and remind clinic workers of the risks they face.
The first clinic arson attack was in 1976 and the first bombing of a clinic was in 1978. According to the most recently available research from the National Network of Abortion Funds (which doesn’t include this most recent attack), there have been 172 arson attacks since then, as well as 41 bombings, and 91 attempting bombings or arson attacks. In 2000, one fifth of all abortion clinics dealt with extraordinary violence and threats.
Eight people have been murdered due to anti-choice violence and terrorism, often after prolonged campaigns of harassment and intimidation. Dr. George Tiller was shot first in 1993, then murdered in his church in 2009. The entire time between shootings he was stalked, harassed, followed home from work, threatened. Everyone from Operation Rescue (the organization which inspired most of these murderers, arsonists, and bombers) to FOX News called him a “baby killer” and targeted intense scrutiny at him and his practice.
This is terrorism. The political attacks on Planned Parenthood are taking place in a country where terrorism against abortion providers and clinics has been going on for decades. And they know this. The people behind the deceptive videos “exposing” Planned Parenthood know this. The politicians fanning the flames of the anti-choice discourse know this. The arsonist who lit a fire in the Thousand Oaks clinic knows this.
I have to conclude that terrorism is the point. That members of Congress and presidential candidates want terrorists on their side, want them committing acts of violence, want them threatening clinic workers and patients. And as much as I hate to admit it, that really does terrify me.