Janurary/Feburary, 1999 Volume XIII Number 4
Mail-in hoaxes cross abortion divide
Within days of the shooting of abortionist Barnett Slepian in Amhurst, New York, a new twist in the abortion wars appeared.
First, several abortion clinics opened their mail to find a bit of white powder and a note reading essentially, "You have been exposed to anthrax."
Immediately, federal authorities, hazardous materials teams, and local police went into action. So did the mouths of pro-abort spokesmen.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spokesman Doug Garrison said clinics in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and New Albany, Indiana as well as Louisville, Kentucky., received similar threats.
At least 31 people were treated for possible exposure to the deadly biological toxin at a Planned Parenthood clinic at East 21st Street and Ritter Avenue in Indianapolis. The 31 people included two police officers, two firefighters, and the postal carrier who delivered the letter. The letter bore a Cincinnati postmark.
Though it later proved to be a hoax, it looked real, according to fire Lieutenant Jack Cassaday.
"It looked like Anthrax so whoever sent it knew enough to package it the right way," he said.
Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, according to a Centers for Disease Control. An infection can occur by breathing or making skin contact.
Symptoms, which usually occur within seven days of exposure, include raised, itchy bumps on the skin that develop into ulcers that could lead to death if left untreated. Antibiotics usually cure the disease.
It was not long before abortion enthusiasts began making hay of the incidents.
Delbert Culp, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central and Southern Indiana, called the acts despicable.
"These are just political extremists who call themselves pro-life.'' he said. "This is putting 29 people's lives at risk, and I just find that absolutely appalling. I think society just has to begin saying this is totally unacceptable.''
But similar denunciations were not heard just a few days later when anxious parents filled the gymnasium at Cathedral High School, waiting for buses to bring their children from the St. Matthew Catholic Church parish school, where the city's second recent anthrax threat had forced the evacuation of 481 students and teachers.
This became a part of a string of similar "anthrax" letters received by pro-life activists and groups.
Just two weeks before, St. Matthew had staged what Principal Rita Parsons called "Pro-Life Sunday," protesting abortion by planting 150 white wooden crosses in a small grove of pine trees at the edge of the church yard. An anti-abortion banner, part of the display, disappeared a short time later, she said. School officials never determined what happened to the banner, and the incident never was reported to police, she said.
In addition to the school, Joe Scheidler of Pro-Life Action League of Chicago, Jeff White of Operation Rescue/California, and Neal Horsley, creator of the "Nuremberg Files" pro-life website received similar envelopes.
"They were all window-envelopes postmarked in Ft. Worth, Texas," said Scheidler.
Tests later proved all the attacks to be hoaxes, but worrisome times were had by all.
Many suspect that all the anthrax attacks originated with pro-abortionists seeking sympathy to be added after the shooting of Slepian.
Indianapolis postal inspector P.J. Farmer reacted angrily to the second anthrax threat.
"The individuals who get their jollies out of this, if we and the other investigative agencies involved find them, they're going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he said. "You don't go to the airport and say 'bomb,' you don't go to the bank and say 'robbery,' and you don't go to the post office and say 'anthrax.'"
Speech in peril
Pro-lifer gives pro-aborts “a devil of a time”