An unidentified person poured gasoline on a recently laid foundation and a security guard’s car early Saturday morning at the construction site of the Planned Parenthood facility in New Orleans.
The security vehicle caught fire at 3:42 a.m., though the concrete failed to ignite, according to the National Abortion Federation’s statement on the apparent act of politically motivated violence. Local law enforcement and the fire department responded and extinguished the blaze.
Video surveillance reportedly captured the incident and law enforcement is investigating.
Planned Parenthood Louisiana issued a statement Monday that no one was injured in the attack, and the organization is working with the New Orleans Police Department and federal law enforcement to investigate the incident.
Appreciate our work?
Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:
Melissa Flournoy, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast-Louisiana state director, said in a statement that the vandalism was another example of violence experienced by abortion providers around the country.
“This isn’t just an attack on our health center; it’s an attack on expanded access to reproductive health care,” Flournoy said. “Unfortunately, this arson attack is another example of the violence reproductive health care providers and advocates for abortion rights too often face.”
Planned Parenthood cleared an administrative hurdle last month toward the construction of the facility, the Center for Choice, which would expand access to abortion in the New Orleans area, after the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals rescinded regulations that may have prevented it from opening such a facility.
The national reproductive health-care provider has been under increased scrutiny by Republican lawmakers over the past month after the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice organization with ties to radical activists, published a series of videos that it claims show Planned Parenthood officials engaged in illegal activities.
The videos have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from GOP legislators and anti-choice activists.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) used the CMP videos as justification to direct the state Department of Health and Hospitals to investigate Planned Parenthood’s facilities in Louisiana. As the U.S. Senate was debating a vote to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, Jindal issued a statement Monday that the state had terminated the organization’s Medicaid provider agreement.
Flournoy noted in a statement that the arson came in the wake of a “video smear campaign” and calls to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.
“The group behind the video smear campaign is a part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement,” Flournoy said. “They have been behind the bombing of clinics, and the murder of doctors in their homes and in their churches.”
The incident comes after a report released in February found that threats of harassment, intimidation, and violence against abortion providers have doubled since 2010. Reproductive rights advocates have raised concerns that radical anti-choice activists have been emboldened by a wave of legislative attacks on reproductive rights.
There was an act of vandalism at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in March, as an unidentified person destroyed some of the Mississippi clinic’s security cameras and a generator. Footage was captured of a person on the clinic property before the security cameras were destroyed.
All Families Healthcare, a family medicine and reproductive health-care facility in Kalispell, Montana, was severely vandalized in March of 2014. Susan Cahill, a physician assistant who manages the office, told Rewire that she believes the break-in was part of a coordinated effort to intimidate the facility into no longer providing abortion care.
Zachary Klundt, who has connections to a local anti-choice group, was sentenced in June to five years in prison after he plead guilty in April to felony burglary, criminal mischief, and theft.