Texas Planned Parenthood clinic attacked with Molotov cocktail

As the tragedy in Norway provokes speculation about the threat of home-grown right-wing extremism in the U.S., here’s a stark reminder that our most common form of domestic terrorism is alive and well.

Holly Morgan, director of media relations and communications for Planned Parenthood in Dallas, said their McKinney health center located on Eldorado Parkway was “attacked” between 10 and 11 p.m. Tuesday with an incendiary device.

The person or persons involved in the attack threw a Molotov cocktail, consisting of diesel fuel in a glass bottle with a lit rag, at the building. Morgan said the device did not penetrate the front of the clinic but did cause some serious damage.

Although the media often shies away from calling anti-choice terrorism what it is, two recent profiles highlight the risks that abortion providers face–and the way that anti-choice harassment, threats, and occasionally actual violence are clearly designed to intimidate doctors out of providing abortions.

Dr. Mila Means is attempting to become the first doctor to provide abortions in Wichita, Kansas since the late Dr. Tiller was murdered two years ago. She has endured ceaseless harassment at work and her home, had her personal history posted on the internet, and received a car bomb threat. Anti-choice activists have vowed that any doctor who tries to offer abortions, even early ones like Means, will face protests “beyond anything anyone could imagine.” Operation Rescue president Troy Newman says, “We will ensure that this community remains abortion free.”

Meanwhile, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the only remaining later-term abortion providers in the country, has become a main target for anti-choice extremists. After Nebraska passed a clearly unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks, Carhart started traveling each week to provide abortions at a clinic in Germantown, Maryland. Operation Rescue basically followed him there and set up shop across the street. Carhart, whose entire farm was burned down by anti-choice terrorists early in his career, says he never stays at the same hotel twice or takes the same route to work, because the “the biggest part of security is not being predictable.”

Carhart’s Germantown clinic will face even more harassment than usual as the Summer of Mercy 2.0 gets started this Saturday. The original Summer of Mercy targeted Dr. Tiller’s clinic in 1991 and had a permanent impact on the community. If you’re in the area, you should definitely join the Summer of Choice to stand against anti-choice intimidation and show support for Dr. Carhart, his staff, and his patients.

As for the dedicated staff at Planned Parenthood of North Texas? The day after the attack, they tweeted: “We’re open for business today in McKinney, b/c our patients depend on us & our resolve to serve the community is strong as ever.”

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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