An abortion clinic that draws patients from all over Florida and beyond has closed after an Independence Day fire labeled by the group as an “act of terrorism.”
The fire late Monday night at the Presidential Women’s Center in West Palm Beach sent flames through the roof of the building. The incident was almost one year to the day after an arsonist set ablaze another women’s center in Lake Worth, Fla., which remains closed, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Entrance to West Palm Beach abortion clinic (Photo: WND)
Investigators said it’s too early to comment on the cause of Monday’s fire, though they have found evidence of a fire accelerant at the scene.
But the clinic has come to a quick conclusion.
“It was an act of terrorism, an act of arson that did a great deal of damage,” said Lou Silber, the center’s attorney. “This is not going to close us down. We are going to open up as soon as possible and provide women medical services.”
The case has been turned over to the federal Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he said.
The leader of a local pro-life group says abortion protesters undoubtedly will be blamed.
“It is tragic that it happened,” said Frances Fitzgerald, president of the Palm Beach County Right to Life League. “You don’t take care of violence with more violence.”
Fitzgerald said the pro-life supports who regularly gather outside the clinic come to pray and “help women, not cause violence.”
The Post noted the clinic’s status as one of the few — and more recently the only — women’s clinic where abortions are performed in the county has fueled constant protests.
Frank Rodriguez, an OB/GYN, said patients are referred to the clinic from far and wide.
“People come from out of state and out of the country to that place because they provide a lot of decent care,” he said.
The Palm Beach County Right to Life League and other groups, including local FACE Life, bring people Saturdays to counsel women on the sidewalks.
The Rev. Joe Papes, spiritual moderator for Respect Life, says the pro-lifers are not protesters.
“We don’t endorse any kind of violence,” he said. “There has never been any type of brouhaha or melee.”
Abortion clinic workers box up materials after building was closed due to “suspicious” fire (Photo: WND)
Susan Pine, president of FACE Life, told the Post she sometimes stands apart from the crowd to hand out fliers or offer advice.
Pine’s group issued a news release June 23 reporting that a WomanCare abortion clinic in West Palm Beach was evicted from its building.
Pine said it was her understanding that WomanCare misrepresented itself to the property owner in order to secure the location.
“Although WomanCare is an abortion center, they made no statements to the fact that they perform abortions,” Pine said.
In response to that closure, and to another WomanCare clinic shut down in Cocoa, Fla., Pine stated: “We are thrilled that there are two less facilities in our beautiful state that are focused on the destruction of innocent human life, that exploit women in dire and unusual circumstances, and that rob men of their fatherhood.”