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Today's Top News
Albuquerque Has Renewal of Attacks on Abortion
A rash of attacks on abortion and family planning clinics has struck Albuquerque this month, the first such violence there in nearly a decade.
Two attacks occurred early Tuesday at two buildings belonging to Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, according to Albuquerque police and fire officials. An arson fire damaged a surgery center the organization uses for abortions, and the windows of a Planned Parenthood family planning clinic 12 blocks away were smashed, the officials said.
Neither building sustained significant damage, and activities at both of them resumed Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
The attacks came just weeks after the Albuquerque clinic run by a nationally known abortion provider, Dr. Curtis Boyd, was destroyed by arsonists on Dec. 6.
On Wednesday, agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with local arson investigators, arrested two suspects in the fire at Dr. Boyd's clinic, which has provided abortions to women from throughout the region and Mexico since 1972.
The suspects, Chad Altman and Sergio Baca of Albuquerque, both 22, were arrested on arson charges after the authorities received a tip, said Jake Gonzales, the agent in charge of the firearms agency's Albuquerque office.
Mr. Gonzales said it was not clear whether the Dec. 6 attack was related to those at the Planned Parenthood offices, which are still under investigation by federal and local authorities.
The small, tightknit group of abortion providers here reacted with a mix of shock and fear over the attacks. In 1999, the same Planned Parenthood surgical center was set ablaze. An ex-convict, Ricky Lee McDonald, who has a history of violence against New Mexico abortion clinics, was found guilty in that attack and sent to prison.
The Planned Parenthood of New Mexico spokeswoman, Martha Edmands, condemned the recent attacks, as did Dauneen Dolce, executive director of the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico.
"It makes me really angry," Ms. Edmands said. "It's really upsetting that anyone would attempt to put any kind of doctor out of business."
She said the group was revamping security measures when the attacks occurred. Protesters regularly picket the surgical center, she said.
Ms. Dolce said: "We never encourage violence of any nature. After all, there's enough violence going on in these clinics."
Dr. Boyd, who helped found the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, said: "After working on the abortion reform movement for 40 years, I wake up and I still can't believe we're still where we are. When will it stop?"
He and his wife, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, a past president of the National Abortion Federation who is a psychologist at the clinic, vowed to rebuild their operation. But they said it had been difficult to find a new location because landlords were wary of renting to an abortion provider.
"I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to die before the rights of women are secured, and the violence against providers and staff comes to an end," Dr. Boyd said.
A study issued last year by the Feminist Majority Foundation, which monitors attacks on abortion clinics, concluded that the most serious anti-abortion violence had declined since 1994, when federal legislation gave greater protection to providers and patients. According to the report, 18 percent of clinics experienced severe violence in 2005, compared with 52 percent in 1994.
Still, the report said, many clinics are still targets of extreme violence.
© 2007 The New York Times