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Fire at Wisconsin anti-abortion office investigated as arson

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Posted at 6:29 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 19:12:36-04

MADISON, Wis. — Vandals struck an anti-abortion group office, where a fire broke out and a Molotov cocktail was found. Police say a spray-painted a message also was found inside the Wisconsin Family Action headquarters.

Madison police spokeswoman Stephanie Fryer told the Wisconsin State Journal that the fire was reported shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday. It wasn’t immediately clear who vandalized the building, but the message “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the building.

The lobbying group's president, Julaine Appling, said she considers the fire a “direct threat” given that it happened just a few days after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked. The draft suggested the court may soon overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Tuesday, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said he is not aware of any additional threats, but said there will be extra security for organizations on both sides of the issue.

"We do what is called surveillance as much as we can for these particular areas," Barnes said. "The idea is to protect the next one if that is the case."

He is now asking for the public to step up.

"The best way to respond to crime is to prevent it in the first place," Barnes said.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Tanya Atkinson, issued the following statement:

“At Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the health and safety of patients and health center staff is our top priority. Our work to protect continued access to reproductive care is rooted in love. We condemn all forms of violence and hatred within our communities. We recognize this is an uncertain time for many of our patients. Planned Parenthood will continue to provide essential health care to those who come to us for care, in a safe and supportive environment–no matter what.”

In Milwaukee, the executive director of Women's Care Center said she's not concerned after what happened in Madison, and will continue to focus on supporting women.

Madison Police is encouraging anyone with additional information to call crime stoppers at (608) 266-6014. If you see something something, say something and call 911 if all else fails.

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