In just over two months, there have been four attacks on various Planned Parenthood clinics, each case being ruled as arson. No suspects have been charged or caught as of yet. It is no stretch of the imagination that these attacks are politically and ideologically fueled.
The latest in the string of attacks was in Thousand Oaks, California. At 11:30pm on September 30th, the SoCal Planned Parenthood was deliberately set on fire. Fortunately, there was no one inside or injured, however the building received significant water damage from sprinklers that stamped out the fire. Just days before, Congress unsuccessfully attempted to defund Planned Parenthood. The arsonist launched a heavy object through glass and ignited a fire using flammable liquid and an open flame.
An eerily similar event occurred in Pullman, WA just shortly before. Like the Thousand Oaks case, a heavy object was hurled through a window, followed by flammables and then ignited. This event occurred within a couple weeks of an anti-abortion protest in nearby Spokane, WA, that harped on the false claim by the Centre for Medial Progress that Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses. The building was empty when this incident happened, but the fire damaged the clinic enough for it to be temporarily relocated.
Other fires in Aurora and New Orleans were targeted and deliberate, as well. All culminating in the question of why Planned Parenthood is not being taken seriously as a target of terrorism, and how do we change that conversation.
Although without concrete evidence or charges laid, we cannot declare these attacks are ideological in nature, it isn’t a stretch to assume. Since July, when the controversial videos were released, there has been a sharp increase in terrorist-like attacks on PP, and in the cases of Thousand Oaks and Pullman, also very closely-linked to regional and national extremist activities.
On August 31, an extremist group known as the Selkirk Pro-Life Alliance posted a status update, referencing the named fetus in the CMP video, which reads: “Emmett you will have justice. Your short little life sparked the flames that will burn down the abortion industry and save the lives and souls of many babies and their mothers.”
Although they are not associated with any attacks, it is this rhetoric that feeds in to the larger picture of demonizing Planned Parenthood and subsequently excuses inaction on investigating the terrorist attacks.
Each of these four incidents is being cited by the media as being a result of that controversial CMP video. Although CMP officially condemns violence as a means of action , they are also funded and supported by people (namely Sullenger) who have been found guilty of plotting terrorist-like attacks on abortion clinics before.
It’s more easily digestible to give in to this “cause and effect” understanding of Planned Parenthood’s struggles, but it’s not the whole truth. Yes, incidents have increased since July. But keep in mind that in 39 years, there have been 186 arsons and 40 bombings on abortion clinics in the USA. Terrorism has happened, and continues to happen, under the radar and alarmingly underreported. These attacks persist because of the culture that quietly ignores it. It is less sequential that 1, 2, 3. Rather, it is a complicated interplay with patriarchal body politics at its core.
America continues to violently grapple with the idea that women are autonomous and have the right to rule their own beings. Just earlier this week, authorities in Texas raided PP clinics in an attempt to gather information on staff and members. Three days before, we learned that they were pulling the plug on Medicaid funding for the essential healthcare provider.
A culture that demonizes health care and human rights will continue to silence their targets. As terrorist-like attacks increase, so do sweeping cuts and false allegations against Planned Parenthood.
If you want to learn about the terrorist-like attacks happening across America, and would like to get involved, you can contribute and read more through Pro-Choice America.
[image via x]