Florida Abortion Business Will Likely Relocate After Suspected Arson
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 10, 2004
Lake Worth, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida abortion center operator says she plans to relocate her operation, following a firebombing there more than a week ago. No one was injured in the fire at the WomanCare Center in Lake Worth, but the building was destroyed.
Owner Tammy Sobieski told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that she is now planning to relocate the abortion center in the West Palm Beach area.
Sobieski estimates up to 5,000 women visit the abortion facility each year. The blaze damaged patient records, medical equipment, and artwork.
Pro-life groups strongly oppose such acts of violence and will provide any information to investigators to help find the culprit.
Sobieski owns a chain of abortion centers in Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Cocoa Beach. None of the other centers have ever been the target of violence.
According to one investigator, the windows of the abortion business were broken, likely indicating the fire was deliberately set.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Dale Armstrong, told the Associated Press, "It’s a common method: break a window, throw in an accelerant." The Bureau is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of the arsonist.
The State Fire Marshall’s Office also confirmed that the blaze appeared to have been the work of an arsonist.
The abortion center was empty at the time of the fire and the blaze was quickly extinguished, according to published reports.
Neighborhood resident Patricia Kelly told the Sun-Sentinel she was unhappy when she learned the abortion center had moved in across the street from her home.
"I see people coming and going. It’s very hard for me," Kelly said. "I don’t believe in what’s going on there, but I don’t think that violence is the answer."
The abortion center has been the site of prayer vigils and peaceful pickets by pro-life groups. But members of those groups do not appear to be suspects in the case and oppose the use of violence to stop abortion.
In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, Susan Pine, president of Face Life, a pro-life outreach group, confirmed that no one from her group was involved in the arson.
"Our activists are non-violent, churchgoing people who would have no thoughts of doing something like that. It’s not what pro-life people believe in," Pine told the newspaper.
Rich Giesman of Palm Beach County Right to Life echoed that view. "For us, it’s about conversion. It’s not about doing damage to property," Giesman said.
According to published reports, the incident has been reported to the National Abortion Federation, a group representing abortionists throughout the U.S.
Supporters of legal abortion quickly seized on the incident, saying that it was a sign of an on-going campaign of violence against abortion centers, despite the fact that pro-life groups and members of pro-life groups are not involved.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said that, while the number of violent incidents at abortion centers is down since its peak in 1994, "Our national clinic violence survey reveals that violence is still threatening our nation’s clinics at an intolerable level."
The Feminist Majority claims that levels of severe violence have slightly increased in the past two years, though the numbers often include such activities as peaceful rallies or pro-life meetings.
However, pro-life leaders point out that mainstream pro-life organizations have strict policies against violence, advocating education as the best way to work for an overturn of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion.
Also, pro-life leaders note that mainstream news organizations often fail to report incidents of violence committed against pregnancy resource centers and other groups that offer women alternatives to abortion.