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Calif. clinic temporarily closes following arson attack

A Planned Parenthood clinic in Modesto, California, has temporarily shut down following a reported arson at the facility last Wednesday, Rewire reports.

The clinic is expected to reopen in early June.

Incident details

Dustin Bruley, a criminal investigator with the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office, said officials are investigating the arson "as a criminal matter."

According to Bruley, the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit, Modesto Fire and the Modesto Police Department responded at the clinic at 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday, following reports of a fire. Local media outlets reported the damage to the facility includes fire damage to a chair and the entrance, as well as broken glass. No injuries were reported.

Liz Figueroa, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in San Jose, California, said officials believe an incendiary device was thrown into the clinic. She noted that FBI is investigating the matter.

Clinic attacks part of surge in antiabortion-rights violence, harassment

According to Rewire, the arson comes amid a surge in antiabortion-rights violence and harassment following the release of misleading videos last summer targeting Planned Parenthood.

Advocates have said the violence is linked to antiabortion-rights rhetoric stemming from the videos, and the FBI cautioned providers of "an uptick in attacks on reproductive health-care facilities" related to the videos. Meanwhile, a National Abortion Federation report released in April found that threats of violence targeting abortion providers increased from one in 2014 to 94 in 2015.

According to Rewire, abortion-rights opponents have recently attacked clinics or property belonging to clinics in Aurora, Illinois; New Orleans; Pullman, Washington; Thousand Oaks, California; and New Hampshire. In November, alleged gunman Robert Dear killed three individuals at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

Figueroa said, "We're constantly getting suspicious calls and things we're monitoring ... We have noticed an increase in the past few months of suspicious calls and different packages left near the door that we don't know what they are." She added, "We're very cautious of everything" (Knight Shine, Rewire, 5/26).