In the wake of a string of burglaries and fires at four Atlanta-area women’s clinics and the main office of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (GOGS), Georgia doctors suspect they are being targeted by someone who knows they raised concerns about a recent bill that restricts abortions, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The FBI is investigating the incidents — two burglaries and two fires at women’s clinics and a burglary at the GOGS office — as possible acts of domestic terrorism or civil rights violations, and is trying to determine if the fires and the burglaries are linked. The burglaries, which occurred between January and March, targeted computers. The arsons, one at The Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics Gwinnett office, which was burglarized in January, both occurred in late May.
According to the Journal-Constitution, “[f]our of the five offices targeted are run by doctors who had voiced concerns — sometimes publicly, sometimes privately — about the so-called fetal pain bill, which shortened to 20 weeks the time frame during which women can have an elective abortion.” The bill, HB 954, was eventually signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. The newspaper spoke with four doctors who said they suspected they were targeted by someone who was “exceptionally well informed” about their activities in the state Capitol.
The only exception to the pattern is the Alpha Group GYN clinic in Marietta, where a fire was set on May 23. Dr. Daniel McBrayer, who runs the clinic, did not go to the Capitol to discuss the bill. His clinic, however, is a “well-known” abortion provider.
“We have folks we believe may be trying to intimidate us,” GOGS executive director Pat Cota said. “My doctors are concerned, given what has been happening.”
Lawmakers in the state appear to be taking the issue seriously.
“These are despicable acts and if there is some relationship between these acts and the legislation, then it’s even more outrageous,” House Speaker David Ralston said. “I’m concerned that Georgians might have some fear of coming to the Capitol and voicing their opinions on legislation. Obviously, that troubles me.”
Meanwhile, HB 954’s biggest backer, Georgia Right to Life, has called the arsons and burglaries as “abhorrent.”
“We are an organization that has never not worked with the FBI against domestic terrorism,” Georgia Right To Life President Dan Becker told the Journal-Constitution. “We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of acts of violence against abortionists, or anybody related — patients or doctors.”
Read the whole story here.
Correction: The headline to this post has been changed to reflect that several of the doctors who have been victims of these crimes do not perform abortions.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com