It didn’t require the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes to determine the fire that started late Wednesday night at Planned Parenthood’s Thousand Oaks health clinic was arson. Footage from the organization’s video cameras showed a solitary figure — believed to be male by police — breaking a front window to the two-story edifice, pour gasoline or another flammable liquid inside, and set it on fire.
No threats had been called in to Planned Parenthood earlier in the day and no one has since called to take responsibility for the action. No one was hurt in the incident and the building’s sprinkler system quickly doused the flames. Significant water damage was inflicted to first-floor offices and the clinic was shut down Thursday. According to Jenna Tosh, CEO for the tri-counties’ Planned Parenthood, it will likely be shut down for several more days.
Tosh said Planned Parenthood remains committed to the health and safety of its patients — an estimated 7,000 a year use the Thousand Oaks clinic. “Our doctors and nurses are very committed to the work we do,” Tosh said. “We are no stranger to threats and intimidation. If anything, attacks like this only strengthen our resolve.” Tosh said no threats have been made against the Santa Barbara office, though picketing and protests have escalated there in recent months.
Planned Parenthood has been under sustained attack on Capitol Hill and in the media stemming from videos, surreptitiously taken by anti-abortion activists posing as representatives of a biomedical company seeking to buy fetal tissues. The activists contend the video demonstrates Planned Parenthood was seeking to profit from the sale of fetal tissues. Planned Parenthood and its defenders contend the video was doctored and spliced to give a false and inflammatory impression.
National Planned Parenthood director Cecile Richards testified before Congress this week, stating the women’s reproductive health agency scrupulously follows federal law and charged only the costs of preparing and shipping such tissues. The attack on the Thousand Oaks facility generated press releases from State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Congressmember Lois Capps, and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who bemoaned the “dangerous consequences” of “toxic rhetoric.”