News Violence

Washington Planned Parenthood to Reopen After Arson Attack

Nicole Knight

Extensive renovations were required on the clinic, which serves about 3,000 patients annually, after arsonists on September 4 lobbed an explosive through a window.

A Planned Parenthood health-care center in Pullman, Washington, is set to reopen to patients February 1 after a firebombing in September destroyed much of the facility.

Extensive renovations were required on the clinic, which serves about 3,000 patients annually, after arsonists on September 4 lobbed an explosive through a window, as Rewire reported. Work crews, according to the Associated Press, installed new walls, ceilings, carpeting, fixtures, and significant security upgrades, including cameras and exterior lighting.

Pullman Police Department Commander Chris Tennant said Wednesday no arrests have been made in connection with the incident. The firebombing was part of a spate of clinic violence that followed the release of deceptively edited smear videos produced by an anti-choice front group attacking Planned Parenthood.

Karl Eastlund, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said in a prepared statement that he was “overjoyed” to reopen the center.

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“We’ve been serving the Palouse community for 30 years, and we are honored to be the provider of choice for the thousands of students, women, men and families who rely on us for high-quality, compassionate reproductive healthcare and education,” Eastlund said.

A community celebration of the reopening is planned for February 5.

Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the attack, which came roughly two weeks after a massive protest at the clinic by 500 abortion opponents.

“It lit the entire inside of the building on fire very quickly,” Tanya Riordan, vice president of community outreach for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, told Rewire in an interview following the September incident. “Every single thing inside the center was destroyed or damaged and 100 percent of the inside of the building has had to be replaced and rebuilt.”

Clinics have been subject to increasing waves of violence in the last year. Two months before Robert Lewis Dear Jr. was arrested for a November attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood that killed three people, the FBI warned that there would be “an uptick in attacks on reproductive health-care facilities.”

Dear reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts” at the time of his arrest—an apparent reference to a series of covertly recorded, widely discredited videos released this summer that claim Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue. The heavily edited footage was produced by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice front group that has worked with Republican lawmakers to smear the health-care organization.

The CMP attack videos, pro-choice advocates suggest, have contributed to a climate of violence.

Incidents of harassment against Planned Parenthood clinics surged ninefold in July, according to National Abortion Federation court filings, compared to reported incidents in June. Reported incidents of harassment were even more numerous in August.

Located near Washington State University, the Pullman clinic serves many college students who rely on the provider for STI testing, breast and cervical cancer screening, birth control, and pregnancy tests.

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