CINCINNATI — Nearly simultaneous fires, both blamed on arson, damaged two abortion clinics early today and may have been the result of a mock funeral held at one of the clinics last weekend, officials said.
The blazes, one at the Women's Center and the other at the Margaret Sanger Center, were set by "incendiary devices," said Assistant Fire Chief Charles Collini. The clinics are about a mile and a half apart.
Firefighters were on their way to the Women's Center shortly after 3 a.m. when they spotted the blaze at the Sanger clinic and called for more crews, Collini said.
Both blazes were under control within two hours, and no injuries were reported.
Confrontation of Groups
On Saturday, about 100 members of a group called Americans Against Abortion demonstrated in front of the Sanger clinic, holding a mock funeral that triggered a confrontation with about 50 members of the Freedom of Choice Coalition.
Police looked on but made no arrests.
"It's hard to believe (the fires) were not at least activated (by the demonstration)," said Shirley Clark, director of education at the Sanger Center.
"The kind of fervor they were raising Saturday encourages this action. There were very hostile people there," she said.
Asked whether he thinks the fires were linked, Dr. Martin Haskell, director of the Women's Center, said: "That's a logical assumption. We're not the first health-care center to be firebombed."
There have been more than 30 attacks on abortion clinics throughout the nation since 1982.
Pro-choice advocates have accused the Reagan Administration and the FBI of not vigorously investigating the attacks, but federal officials have said there is no evidence of a national conspiracy.