Terrorist Attacks on Georgia Women’s Clinics Tied to “Fetal Pain” BillPosted: June 22, 2012
The FBI is investigating a series of break-ins and arson attacks at Georgia women’s health clinics as domestic terrorism. From Care2 on May 25:
Within just a few months Georgia has had empty women’s health clinics that provide abortions burglarized and equipment stolen to arson investigations that doctors and lawmakers fear are connected to the contentious 20 week abortion ban passed during the 2012 legislative session.
Each of the four clinics targeted are linked to doctors who either visited the state Capitol or expressed concerns to lawmakers about the 20 week abortion ban. As Robin Marty reports, police are not yet willing to officially connect the violence targeting the clinics to a coordinated campaign targeting abortion clinics and providers, but they have brought in The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist with the investigation.
According to ATF spokesman Richard Coes, the Department is looking at the cases as possible acts of domestic terrorism or civil rights violations.
The federal authorities moved in after two clinic fires happened within just days of each other. The first fire happened on a Sunday morning and when the clinic was closed. The second fire though happened during the day, while the clinic was open and could have easily injured staff and patients at the clinic, not to mention innocent bystanders.
I think JJ wrote about these attacks back in May, and she has covered the Georgia legislature’s anti-abortion campaign extensively. The fetal pain bill, HR954, was introduced by Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens, GA. McKillip was elected as a Democrat and as soon as he got into the legislature, he switched parties–so not really a stand-up guy.
This is the bill that received nationwide media attention when another legislator, Terry Englund, compared pregnant women to livestock.
After an emotional 14-hour workday that included fist-fights between lobbyists and a walk-out by women Democrats, the Georgia House passed a Senate-approved bill that criminalizes abortion after 20 weeks.
Commonly referred to as the “fetal pain bill” by Georgian Republicans and as the “women as livestock bill” by everyone else, HB 954 garnered national attention when state Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) compared pregnant women carrying stillborn fetuses to the cows and pigs on his farm. According to Rep. England and his warped thought process, if farmers have to “deliver calves, dead or alive,” then a woman carrying a dead fetus, or one not expected to survive, should have to carry it to term.
The law has no exceptions for rape or incest.
A couple of days ago, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the attacks appear to have specifically targeted doctors who testified against McKillip’s bill and/or met with McKillip to express their concerns.
Metro Atlanta physicians who participated in the General Assembly’s debate on new abortion restrictions say they warned lawmakers that they were being targeted for reprisals. And they are skittish about returning to the state Capitol next year when the topic is all but certain to come up again.
Four of the five offices targeted are run by doctors who had voiced concerns — sometimes publicly, sometimes privately — about the so-called fetal pain bill, which shortened to 20 weeks the time frame during which women can have an elective abortion.
“These are despicable acts and if there is some relationship between these acts and the legislation, then it’s even more outrageous,” said House Speaker David Ralston. “I’m concerned that Georgians might have some fear of coming to the Capitol and voicing their opinions on legislation. Obviously, that troubles me.”
Four physicians interviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some of whom declined to be named, said they suspected — but could not prove — that whoever targeted their clinics was exceptionally well informed about their activities in the Capitol during the 40 days of the session. Even those activities that occurred out of the public eye.
“The circle of people is not that large,” said John Walraven, a lobbyist for the Infertility and Perinatology Consortium of Georgia. “That’s what’s creepy about it.”
HB 954, which was ultimately signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, is the most substantial abortion restriction to pass the General Assembly in several years, and was designed to provide a new constitutional basis — the pain experienced by fetuses during the procedure —for further restrictions.
McKillip has denied leaking information about the bill’s opponents, but if in fact someone is encouraging these attacks in order to frighten doctors and keep them from testifying in the future, the tactic seems to be working.