Arson Fires Damage Two Ohio Abortion Clinics

Associated Press

Arsonists set fire to two abortion clinics early Monday, including one that had received threats, causing $150,000 in damage and forcing them to close, officials said.

The Women’s Health Care Center and the Margaret Sanger Center each had about $75,000 in damages from the blazes. There were no injuries.

Firefighters said they discovered the fire at the Sanger Center en route to an alarm at the nearby Women’s Center.

The Sanger Center, which had received threats and been targeted by protesters, will be closed indefinitely, officials said. The Women’s Center was expected to reopen within three weeks, owner Dr. Martin Haskell said.


Acting Fire Chief Charles Collini said the fires were arson, and federal investigators were looking for evidence of firebombs.

“I can’t understand people like that,” said Ann Mitchell, executive director of Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati, which operates the Sanger Center. “This is a devastating comment on today.”

Received Threats

Mitchell said she received a threat about 10 days ago that the building would be destroyed. Earlier this year, the Sanger Center received a threat, she said.


Haskell said most of the damage to his 7-year-old clinic was confined to a storage area.

“This is the first time we had a firebomb or anything of that nature,” he said.

Both centers offer pregnancy diagnosis, counseling, abortions, voluntary sterilizations, infertility counseling, family planning and community education.

About 100 members of the Texas-based Americans Against Abortion held a memorial service Saturday outside the Sanger Center for eight decaying fetuses that lay in wooden coffins. About 50 members of the Freedom of Choice Coalition conducted a counterdemonstration nearby.

Melody Green, a spokeswoman for Americans Against Abortion, said the group tells supporters not to resort to violence.

“We (have) told people that, even though what the abortionists were doing is wrong, we love them,” Green said. “We would take a strong stand but be peaceful.”