ABORTION: Clinics Evacuated After Threats of Anthrax
Threats of violence, including letters possibly laced with anthrax, reached several abortion clinics yesterday, including one Birmingham, AL, clinic where violence had killed a security guard in January 1998, the AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review reports. The Birmingham clinic, the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic, was evacuated when employees contacted authorities to report a fax that informed them of the letter. Officials confiscated the letter, which had not been opened, and attempted to determine if it had been filled with anthrax. Char Wendel, executive director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Naples, FL, said a letter that clinic received read, "You've been exposed to anthrax. You're going to die in less than 24 hours. We need to get rid of you. We're sorry." Planned Parenthood clinics in Providence, RI, and Manchester, CT, also received letters. Tests on the Connecticut letter indicated it was not contaminated, but it is not known whether the other letters did contain anthrax (AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 1/4). FBI special agent Doug Garrison said of a threat in Fort Wayne, IN, "This is a hoax again, and we're not wanting to blow the horn about it. We're not treating it like anthrax because it's not anthrax." The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the letter the Fort Wayne clinic received had a Cincinnati postmark. In the meantime, the Cincinnati Fire Division's bomb unit disabled two suspicious packages mailed to two Cincinnati abortion clinics. Investigators are examining the packages to determine whether they presented a real threat (Weathers, 1/4). Responding to the threats, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt said that "these deliberate malicious criminal acts cannot and will not be tolerated." She added, "Planned Parenthood health care centers will remain vigilant in the face of threats. Our doors will remain open. We are committed to providing health care to patients at the same time we ensure their safety and comfort" (PPFA release, 1/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.