Originally created 01/30/98

Bombing gets firm local condemnation



In a city where the abortion debate is marked by quiet disagreement, Augusta activists on both sides of the issue said they were horrified by an Alabama clinic bombing Thursday, but a local clinic didn't plan to beef up security.

Standard procedures should be enough to protect Planned Parenthood on Broad Street and its patrons, external affairs director Mary Beth Pierucci said. The clinic does not release details of security measures, but visitors must be buzzed in through the front door.

Richmond County Sheriff's Department patrols in the area will be put on notice, standard procedure when incidents happen in other parts of the country, Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said.

"This strikes close to home, particularly with the bombing in Atlanta last year," Ms. Pierucci said Thursday afternoon. "Even though what happens here (during protests) is nonviolent, it's still an emotional strain to deal with harassment for providing a medical service that's legal," she added.

Protesters hold weekly vigils outside the clinic, and demonstrations increased last week during the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. In the past, workers' license plate numbers have been written down, and some protesters may have snapped photographs, Chief Deputy Strength said.

The vigils usually are nonconfrontational, and protesters remain on public property, Ms. Pierucci said.

Anti-abortion activists also decried the bombing. "I think that clinic bombing was an act of terrorism and deserves absolute condemnation," said Penny Goodman of Project Rachel, an organization affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital that offers counseling for women who have had abortions. "Being pro-life is not just about stopping abortions. You can't focus on the unborn and see the people involved with them as less than human. It negates everything we stand for."