by Steven Ertelt
January 11, 2005
Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Investigators looking into a fire at a Washington state abortion facility are calling the blaze an arson after preliminary findings. They say the fire was intentionally set using incendiary materials on the roof of the abortion business.
The Eastside Women’s Health Clinic was damaged by an early Sunday fire and smoke and water damaged the offices. Lt. Robert Johnson of the Olympia Fire Department says a call concerning the fire came in about 2 a.m.
No one was injured in the blaze and the abortion facility was closed at the time.
Agent Scott Thomasson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated the damage at $500,000, according to an Associated Press report.
Thomasson said there were several leads but no firm suspects in the case. He indicated that the people authorities are focusing on so far have no link to any pro-life organization.
"It seems to be a random act at this time," Thomasson told the Olympian newspaper.
Shelley Pacheco, who co-owns the abortion business with Nancy Armstrong, told the Olympian that the arson would not stop her from operating the facility.
"I’m not going to be kicked down that easily," Pacheco said. "I don’t feel that sense of fear."
Armstrong told the newspaper she didn’t agree with the BATF agents who said the crime wasn’t linked to pro-life advocates.
"The first thing that comes to mind is they’re anti-abortion," Armstrong said.
The fire damaged old equipment and files stored in an attic, but patient records were not damaged, Armstrong said.
Armstrong indicated she did not know when the abortion facility, which performs abortions and provides some legitimate health care services, would reopen. The owners are looking for temporary office until the building is repaired.
Pro-life groups have long opposed the use of violence against abortion facilities or its staff.
In an unrelated matter, Priests for Life released a statement Tuesday about abortion and violence.
"Priests for Life calls upon all people to reject all violence, whether directed against abortion providers or against unborn children, and furthermore to reject the idea that we can be against one type of violence but for the other," the group said.
After a years of attacks against abortion facilities by people unrelated to the pro-life movement, such incidents have dwindled recently. In 2005, only one arson at an abortion facility was reported.