A fire that started late Monday night has forced the Presidential Women’s Clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida to close due to damage. There were no injuries, and the clinic hopes to reopen within a week, according to the Palm Beach Post. Suspicions were raised because of evidence that lighter fluid or another substance was used to accelerate the blaze, reports the Miami Herald, and local law enforcement is joined by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in investigating the scene. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Clinic Access Project is working with both the clinic and federal law enforcement on this case.
The apparent arson may have been a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a federal law prohibiting the intentional injury, intimidation or obstruction of people seeking abortion services, which also applies to cases of damage or destruction of a reproductive health facility. Furthermore, the Herald reports that authorities are searching for possible connections to fires set at clinics in the area in 2003 and 2004.
Lou Silber, the clinic’s attorney, told the Post, “It was an act of terrorism, an act of arson that did a great deal of damage,” but went on to say “this is not going to close us down. We are going to open up as soon as possible and provide women medical services.”