On New Year’s Day a fire gutted a Florida Panhandle abortion clinic. Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was arrested for the crime of violating Federal explosives laws. He is being held in the Escambia Country Jail in Pensacola pending indictment. A conviction could result in a 20-year prison sentence. An anonymous tip led to Rogers’ arrest.
The fire alarm was raised at 1 a.m. and no one was injured. The fire began in a woodland behind the building, and a dense fog kept the fire from being seen soon enough to save the building.
This particular clinic has been targeted before. It was bombed on Christmas Day, 1984, and a doctor and volunteer escort were shot to death in 1994. Paul Hill, who was convicted of the murders, was executed in 2003.
Though Rogers is being held in the county’s jail, this is a Federal prosecution. Depending on the outcome of the indictment and the setting of bail, Rogers could be transferred to one of five Federal prisons in Florida to await trial, most likely the one in Pensacola.
Rasmussen, a right-leaning polling organization, has released their latest poll of “Likely U. S. Voters” on the issue of abortion. Though abortion ranks very low on the list of issues voters are concerned about, it has been used for the past year to divert attention from the more important issues, like jobs.
According to the January 2 telephone poll, in response to the question “Generally speaking, on the issue of abortion, do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life?” Americans responded 49% pro-choice to 43% pro-life.
Abortion is one issue that should not be polled with the usual simple questions and even simpler answers. There are too many variables, and too many shades of support. There are also too many ways to slant the questions so that people don’t have the opportunity to nuance their answers.
And finally, over in Ohio, the Ballot Board will take up the issue of the proposed “personhood” amendment. Like Georgia, Ohio’s constitution calls for amendments to contain one issue. There is a question of whether or not the “personhood” amendment, which would grant full rights to a fertilized egg, has too many aspects.
If it has more than one issue, the group which submitted the notification to collect signatures for a ballot initiative on “personhood,” then the group will have to rewrite the amendment and submit each issue separately. They would then need to collect 385,245 signatures for each issue petition. A “personhood amendment” would ban all abortions under all circumstances, as well as many forms of birth control. Everywhere that the proposed amendment has been placed on the public ballot, it has been defeated.