Officials were investigating a fire that damaged a Christian “pregnancy crisis center” in Gresham, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, early on Friday morning.
The Seattle field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it was helping police and fire departments investigate the blaze, which happened inside the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center around 3am. No injuries were reported.
Jason McGowan, the Gresham fire chief, told local TV news station KOIN 6 News: “There’s enough to tell us that [the fire] is suspicious in nature.”
Across the US, tensions between pro-choice and anti-abortion groups are rising, after the leak of a draft supreme court ruling which would overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling which guaranteed the right.
A full supreme court ruling is expected this month.
The Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center is one of three clinics in the Portland area run by First Image, a Christian organization.
In a statement posted to its website on Saturday, First Image said the fire was primarily in one room, “but damage there was extensive and there is additional water and smoke damage in other parts of the building”.
Investigators believe an incendiary device was thrown through a window and no messages or notes were left, First Image said. The clinic will temporarily close.
“The kind of outrage that’s being directed at us is based on a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of who we are and how we have served the hundreds of thousands of people that have come to us over the decades,” First Image said.
First Image pregnancy centers encourage pregnant people to give birth, instead of having an abortion.
The fire in Oregon comes days after a suspected arson attack on a “pregnancy crisis center” in upstate New York.
The windows of CompassCare, a “community medical facility” in Amherst, were smashed and the clinic was allegedly firebombed.
A spray-painted message was left on the side of the building. It said “Jane was here” – leading some to speculate that a pro-choice rights group, Jane’s Revenge, was behind the damage.
Last month, the group claimed responsibility for a similar fire set in another crisis center in Madison, Wisconsin, where a Molotov cocktail was thrown, starting a small fire.
The message “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either” was spray-painted on the side of the building in that attack.
The group had sent a message to a Wisconsin newspaper, saying it attacked the clinic because of its anti-abortion stance and warning of “increasingly extreme tactics” across the US if similar institutions did not disband. Officials are still investigating.