Planned Parenthood
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Investigators in California said a small fire on 30 September at a Planned Parenthood in Southern California was the result of arson. According to fire authorities, someone used a rock to break a window of the Thousand Oaks centre, threw in a container of gasoline and ignited the fire.

The fire, which was started in the clinic's lobby, triggered the building's sprinkler system, reported KTLA. The building experienced fire and water damage, but the extent of the damage is unknown.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. John Reilly told The Los Angeles Times that the arson attack comes more than six weeks after the office was vandalised. The centre did not receive any threats prior to the fire, Reilly added.

The fire was quickly extinguished, according to Ventura Detective Tim Lohman. "You're putting the community at risk when you're doing something like this. The reasons behind why the person did what they did, we don't know. And that's going to be part of the investigation and hopefully give us some foresight into why they targeted this specific location. Whether it's the stuff that's in the news recently, we don't know."

Lohman told The LA Times that deputies and firefighters were alerted to the fire by the building's fire alarm at around 11.30pm. No one was inside the building at the time, the detective said. According to The LA Times, arson and sheriff's investigators are investigating the fire and are looking at surveillance video from the building's security cameras.

The women's health organisation has come under fire after a series of "undercover" videos allegedly depicted executives discussing using foetal tissue from abortions for research. Congressional Republicans have led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, forcing the organization's president, Cecile Richards, to attend a House hearing to defend Planned Parenthood.

"Planned Parenthood has been in the news recently because of deceptively edited videos released by a group that is dedicated to making abortion illegal in this country," Richards said. "This is just the most recent in a long line of discredited attacks."

The LA Times reported that Jenna Tosh, the chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, said that "we are determined to reopen as soon as possible to serve the healthcare needs of our patients." Tosh continued, "Our commitment today, and always, is to the health and safety of our patients and staff."