A firebomb has been thrown at a 77-year-old pro-life demonstrator in America, and the local police force has been criticised for its casual response.
One police officer has been accused of saying that the firebombing was “reasonable” given that the pro-lifers were protesting outside an abortion clinic.
The incident took place on 17 March in the city of Kalispell in the American state of Montana. Victim Mary Anne Hofmann was unhurt.
The device, a water bottle filled with a flammable liquid, made a loud popping noise like a big firecracker and burst into flame.
Following a call to the police, it was reportedly some time before an officer arrived. When he did he was “very brusque and rude”, according to the pro-lifers’ lawyer.
The officer allegedly said there would be no fingerprints to collect on the firebomb and instead called for rubbish collectors to pick up the debris.
The police officer is also reported to have said “it was reasonable that people would react this way when you’re out there protesting on a public sidewalk”.
Tom Brejcha, of legal group Thomas More Society, which is supporting the pro-lifers, criticised the police response.
“Of course, those reactions are just outrageous. This was a serious incident, a violent attack with a firebomb that exploded on impact and could have caused very serious impact to this lady,” he said.
Mr Brejcha commented that there was another bombing at a shop close to the same time and said the two incidents may be related.
“There has to be an utter condemnation of the use of violent tactics from both sides of the abortion debate. Any kind of coddling, or treating it as a normal thing would only provoke violent actions,” Mr Brejcha commented.
He also commented that many police officers from the area had said they disagreed “strongly” with the controversial response.
In September 2009 a pro-life campaigner was shot dead. James Pouillon, 63, was gunned down in Michigan.
At the time comparisons were made with the murder of controversial abortion doctor George Tiller, who was shot dead in May 2009.
Then pro-life groups quickly condemned the shooting and Mr Tiller’s death made headline news in Britain.
The BBC gave prominent coverage to the abortion doctor’s murder, but there is no mention of Mr Pouillon’s death on its website.