CLAREMONT, N.H. (AP) — An intruder used a hatchet to destroy computers, plumbing fixtures, phones and medical equipment inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, and police are investigating whether the vandalism is linked to the word “murderer” being spray-painted on the same building earlier this month.
Claremont Police Chief Alexander Scott said his department beefed up patrols around the clinic after the graffiti was found on Oct. 6. During one of those checks early Wednesday, officers discovered the damage and caught a juvenile inside.
The Claremont office provides a range of health care services to men and women and referrals for abortions, though it doesn’t conduct abortions, according to its website. Planned Parenthood officials said they will restore operations at the clinic as soon as possible.
“This illegal activity is the second incident in New Hampshire since the recent escalation of attacks against Planned Parenthood,” said Jennifer Frizzell, vice president for public policy for Planned Parenthood Northern New England. “These acts have no place in New Hampshire.”
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Funding for Planned Parenthood has been threatened nationwide since July, when an anti-abortion group released an undercover video showing agency officials discussing the disposition of fetal tissue.
There has been a corresponding increase in vandalism and arson at clinics across the country.
Earlier this month, an arsonist threw a container containing flammable liquid through the window of a Planned Parenthood office in Thousand Oaks, California, igniting a small fire. Last month, an arsonist threw a flammable object through the window of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington, causing extensive damage.
The police chief noted that Planned Parenthood has operated a clinic without incident for 18 years in the city of about 13,000 in western New Hampshire.
He would not identify the age or gender of the juvenile who was taken into custody or comment on what charges the suspect faces. Additional patrols will continue, and Scott said the police department will consult with Planned Parenthood officials to determine if other steps are needed, such as additional security for patients, staff and providers.
“We’ll work cooperatively to come up with the best plan,” he said.
Scott said the flooding that resulted from the vandalism also damaged a business adjacent to the clinic. He said officials are still trying to assess the extent of the damage.
“To put a dollar value on it at this point in time would be difficult, but it’s going to be significant,” he said.