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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 1995

CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888

NEW MEXICO MAN INDICTED FOR TRYING TO BURN DOWN ALBUQUERQUE WOMEN'S HEALTH CLINIC WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal grand jury today indicted a New Mexico man for using chains, padlocks, and a burning shopping cart in four separate efforts to shut down a women's health clinic in Albuquerque in which abortions are performed. The Justice Department said the case was the eighth brought under a federal law enacted last year to protect access to clinics. Under the law, known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), the Justice Department can prosecute people who use force, threat of force or physical obstruction to block health clinics or harm health care providers or patients. The indictment, returned today in Albuquerque, alleged that on January 14, Ricky Lee McDonald set fire to the main entrance of the building that houses the Abortion and Reproductive Health Services Clinic. On February 24, he allegedly wheeled a shopping cart filled with flammable materials into the front of the building and set it afire. The indictment also alleged that McDonald chained and padlocked the main entrance to the building on January 2 and 4. No persons were physically harmed in the incidents. "Congress passed the clinic access law to protect women's constitutional rights to reproductive health services," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "Today's case marks our continuing effort to vigorously enforce this law and to ensure that women have access to medical services that is free of violence and intimidation." Count one charged McDonald with using force or threat of force and physical obstruction to intimidate and interfere with clinic employees in the January 2 incident. Count two alleged he used the same techniques to interfere with employees as well as patients during the January 4 incident. Counts three and four charged McDonald with setting a fire on January 14 and one on February 24 at the main entrance with the intention of damaging the facility. Counts five and six charged McDonald with using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce. "Women in New Mexico are entitled to receive services, and their health care providers should be able to render services free of fear and intimidation, " said the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John J. Kelly. If convicted, McDonald faces maximum prison terms up to eighteen months and a fine up to $100,000 for each alleged FACE violation and imprisonment for up to ten years and a fine for each of the two non-FACE violations involving the use of fire. Prior to today's indictment, the Justice Department brought three criminal actions under FACE. In October 1994, Paul Hill was convicted and later sentenced under federal law to two life

terms in prison for murdering a Pensacola doctor. He was subsequently sentenced to death following his state conviction. In November, a federal court convicted six individuals who blocked the entrance to a Milwaukee clinic. A separate case involving the physical obstruction of a second women's health clinic in Milwaukee is scheduled for trial later this month. The Justice Department also has brought four civil actions under FACE. In December 1994, it asked permission to enter into an existing private civil suit against eight individuals who blocked the entrance to one of the Milwaukee clinics. In January, a federal court in Kansas City, Missouri issued a restraining order against a woman who threatened clinic personnel and clients. Later that month, the Department filed civil suit in Fargo, N.D. against several individuals who blocked a clinic entrance. Last month, it obtained a preliminary injunction against an Ohio man for threatening a doctor and his family. # # # 95-134