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WOMEN'S CLINICS HAVE LONG FELT OUR NEW FEAR
IT has come to this.
Envelopes. Elevators. Bridges and tunnels. Unaccompanied bags.
In a world where the mailroom sits on the front line of terror, everything we see, touch, smell, breathe in the office, the subway and at home can create a momentary sense of paralyzing dread.
"Welcome to my world," says Merle Hoffman, president of Choices Women's Medical Center in Queens.
America is just learning about the enemy's greatest weapon: The ability to spread fear from places unknown, through objects we see every day.
Hoffman, whose clinic provides abortions as well as prenatal care, for years has traveled in the zone we all now occupy.
"I've lived in this parallel universe for a very long time," said Hoffman.
"For years I've lived a normal existence on one level. On another, I'm hyper-vigilant. I'm aware that this so-called ‘normal' existence can explode in a minute."
Three years ago, after abortion doctor Barnett Slepian was murdered by sniper fire through the window of his Buffalo home, Hoffman avoided windows altogether.
"It became second nature to look under my car for bombs. I got into the habit of never driving to the clinic the same route, same time, same car each day."
Ten years ago, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms instructed Hoffman and her staff about anthrax, something that, until two weeks ago, I thought was only the name of a rock band.
In the days before tamper-proof packaging, Hoffman learned to fear strange parcels without return addresses. When one arrived at the clinic a few years ago, Hoffman sealed off a room and called in police and the bomb squad.
That parcel contained no anthrax.
Here is a sickening twist: Home-grown terror-mongers appear to have become energized by terrorists from abroad.
Yesterday, abortion clinics around the country received about 90 threatening letters that are now being tested for anthrax.
This means that in a single day, the clinics received as many such threats as they have in the previous three years, said Stephanie Mueller, director of public policy for the National Abortion Federation (news - web sites).
None has tested positive for anthrax so far.
"Law-enforcement resources are being diverted to deal with this situation that could be dealing with real anthrax," Mueller said.
"It's just deplorable to think that domestic terrorists are piggy-backing on the work of foreign terrorists."
Last week, Hoffman visited ground zero. There, she felt a profound connection to the people of this city. People who, until Sept. 11, lived in a parallel plane.
"It gave me a feeling of patriotism," said Hoffman. "I felt very protective toward the city, my country, toward everything that it's for.
"I never felt it so deeply before." --Andrea Peyser, 10/17/01
"White supremacist" and "Christian" are contridictions. Describing Larry Wayne Harris as such is misleading. --Joshua, 10/16/01
You might want to write to the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta and tell them. Click on the relevant link for their address. --Politex
What in the world is the point of your latest headline? You have absolutely NO proof that the anthrax attacks have come from anyone other than Muslims. To try and blame this on Christians is just so disgusting and irresponsible. Ugh, I cannot believe this. Why is it so unheard of to be a Christian and a liberal? You just lost a loyal viewer. --Mike, 10/16/01
Suggest you note the headline is a quote from excerpt three, re-read the excerpts, and consult the documentation. The excerpts are not about the present documented anthrax attacks, Muslims, Christians, or liberals. --Politex
"Ninety offices of Planned Parenthood and at least 80 clinics of the National Abortion Federation across the United States have received envelopes containing unidentified powdery substances and letters with threatening language, according to spokesmen for the groups. Both groups support abortion rights and provide abortions in at least some of their offices." --CNN, 10/15/01.
"In February 1998, Larry Wayne Harris, a white supremacist and born-again Christian, boasted to an informant that he had enough military-grade anthrax to wipe out all of Las Vegas. Eight bags marked "biological" had been found in the back of a car he and his accomplice were driving.17 Several days later, federal authorities learned that the anthrax Harris had brought to Las Vegas was a vaccine strain not harmful to human health. Nevertheless, the incident frightened many people and sparked a proliferation of anthrax hoaxes and threats in the second half of 1998 continuing into 1999 by groups including Identity Christians and other antigovernment groups, extortionists, antiabortion activists, and presumed prochoice groups." --CDC, 7/00.
"This type of threat is unfortunately not new to abortion providers," said Vicki Saporta, executive director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF)..."Some of the letters reference the Army of God, a group of domestic terrorists that has claimed responsibility for the murder of abortion providers.... Those who are opposed to a woman's right to choose have not hesitated to resort to bioterrorist threats and attacks to advance their personal agenda. Today's events are a sad reminder to all Americans that not only do we face threats from foreign terrorists, but we also face threats from domestic terrorists as well." --Newswire, 10/15/01.