In the third set of attacks on Florida abortion clinics within a week, two more abortion clinics were sprayed with a noxious acid. Officials have been unable to determine whether the attacks took place on Friday evening or Saturday morning.
The Woman’s Health Center in St. Petersburg and National Women’s Health Services in Clearwater were the most recent targets in a string of attacks on 10 separate clinics. The perpetrator(s) drilled holes in the buildings’ door and then sprayed the butyric acid inside.
Butyric acid is a corrosive, foul-smelling substance that creates fumes, irritates the eyes, and can cause damage to the respiratory systems of those around it. It has been used in anti-abortion violence many times in the past and can be fatal in large doses.
In at least three of the earlier attacks, the acid was poured through holes drilled in window frames; in at least two others, the acid was poured through the clinics’ mail slots.
Ray Velboom, special agent and intelligence supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said “There’s a good chance they are all related, but we have not been able to prove that forensically.” Velboom said that officials have some leads, but are not revealing this information to the public.
Miami Fox affiliate WSVN-TV reported that officials have seized a burgundy rental car that reeked of butyric acid. According to WSVN’s report, police took fingerprints and a bag of objects from the vehicle.
All of the attacks were committed within days of Operation Rescue’s eight-day “Operation Pushback” campaign, which started May 31. Operation Rescue sponsored several anti-abortion demonstrations during the campaign, but has denied involvement in the ten recent clinic attacks.
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