FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: MELINDA SHELTON, 767; DIANE MINOR, x773
NOW leaders today are organizing quick responses and long-term answers to the wave of anti-abortion violence surrounding this year's anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Activists are increasing already tight security at the national offices and feminist store one block south of today's explosion, as federal agents swarm the area. "We're gratified by President Clinton's strong response and the FBI's involvement in the investigation of today's explosion, and we take some credit for the political changes that have brought that about," said NOW President Patricia Ireland. "However, we need a rapid, thorough response in communities all across the country, not just in Washington, and we need it at all levels of law enforcement, not just the top.
"It's time for President Clinton and Attorney General Reno to give abortion clinic bombings the same priority they gave to the recent wave of church burnings," Ireland said. "We need an inter-agency response that increases arrests and convictions, and deters further attacks."
Meanwhile, NOW activists went to the site of today's explosion with protest signs in hand, volunteered to provide increased security at NOW's national headquarters and store and planned to attend a vigil at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Ireland will speak.
"When early news reports indicate someone with a grenade in hand was one block away from our offices, it takes considerable courage for our staff members to report to work, let alone to stand outside and protest," Ireland said. "But that is exactly what anti-abortion extremists intend to achieve -- to intimidate us into forfeiting our constitutional rights. We face cowardice with courage and violence with peaceful protest."
The explosion and bombings the past few days raise the stakes for the NOW v. Schiedler case -- a case NOW fought all the way to the Supreme Court that is finally set to be heard by a Chicago trial court starting March 3.
"Our racketeering case against the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement will prove the connections among these far-from-random acts," said Ireland. "And with the possibility of being awarded triple the usual damages, we will try to put the terrorists out of business once and for all."
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