Homemade Device Explodes At Wisconsin Planned Parenthood Clinic

A small bomb exploded at Planned Parenthood’s Appleton North Health Center in Wisconsin, according to numerous news reports.  The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that a “small, homemade explosive device” was placed on a windowsill of the clinic at around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night, causing damage as well as small fire. 

The clinic, one of very few in the the state that provides abortions, has been a constant target of anti-choice activists, from Lila Rose attempted “undercover video ‘stings'” to Pro-Life Wisconsin’s “Empty Manger Christmas carols” and other stunts. With the amount of attention being put on the clinic, and the escalating frenzy to try and block a woman’s right to abortion, it was likely only a matter of time before a violent act happened there. 

The incident also points to a disturbing and increasing trend of clinic violence.  This would be the fourth case of incendiary devices being used as a weapon against clinics and supporters in the last eight months.  Last August, a suspect firebombed a clinic in McKinney, Texas.  On New Year’s Day, a clinic in Florida was firebombed in the early morning hours by a homeless man believed to be sympathetic to the anti-choice protesters who frequented the health center.  And just last month, a Texas state senator known for her Planned Parenthood advocacy had her office in Fort Worth firebombed during working hours while the office was full.

And clinic violence just in the state of Wisconsin itself has become a major issue.  Ralph Lang has been in jail since May, still awaiting trial for his alleged attempt to kill a Madison abortion doctor.

Bombing clinics is obviously becoming the favorite activity for anti-choice extremists, and for every thwarted plot like North Carolina’s Justin Moose in 2010, we’re now seeing multiple successes.

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  • nonsequiteuse

    When Senator Wendy Davis’s office was firebombed last month, I immediatley assumed it was because of her pro-choice, pro-Planned Parenthood advocacy.

    The police quickly identified a suspect who is very likely going to be found to be the fire-bomber. He had a long history of mental instability and the attack did not seem to be politically motivated by her position on women’s reproductive freedom.

    Reading your article, I see that a 2nd firebombing (the NYD in Florida incident) has been attributed to a “homeless man believed to be sympathetic to anti-choice protesters.”

    I don’t want to say there’s a trend here, and I do not know the specifics of either case, but I feel it is worth sharing this thought.

    When I worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the 90s, one protest group actually opened a little office across the street from us. They often fed the various street people in the area, sometimes in exchange for having those street people hold signs outside the clinic. When the protesters suddenly disappeared, the guys continued to harass us for a very short period of time, but they then realized that no one was going to continue to reward that behavior with food and so went back to their normal routines.

    There’s already a narrative that plays out in cases of clinic violence – bombers are always described as lone wolves, working on their own. Careful reporting has demonstated that often, this is far from the case – clinic violence is often perpetrated by someone with multiple connections to extreme anti-choice activists & organizations.

    Maybe those extremists are realizing that it is too risky to have their own people on the front lines. Could they possibly have a strategy of recruiting mentally unstable people to do their work?

    A homeless person with serious mental health issues is, for those extremist anti-choice organizations, the “ideal” bomber. That person would most likely be easy to manipulate, and likely to have a record of interaction with either the police or mental health institutions – or both – that can make investigators assume that the person is “just crazy,” acting on his own, not part of an organized effort of intimidation and terrorism. There wouldn’t be pictures of that person at other protests around the country, or phone records showing calls back and forth, etc. It would be hard to find the extremists’ fingerprints on the job.

    Maybe / probably / hopefully the firebombing at Wendy Davis’s office wasn’t anti-choice terrorism, but thinking about it in the context of the earlier incident in Florida with a different mentally unstable person makes me think we need to actively watch to see what continues to happen.

    I say things like this and think I’m being paranoid, but I’ve seen too much violence to believe that it is all as random as the anti-choice extremists insist it is.