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Indiana man charged in ax attack on abortion clinic

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Police on Thursday arrested a man who said he opposed abortion and charged him with breaking into an Indiana Planned Parenthood clinic and causing extensive damage with an ax.

Benjamin Curell, 27, of Ellettsville was charged with felony burglary and criminal mischief. Police said they found Curell at about 3:50 a.m. inside the building after he allegedly damaged equipment with an ax and splashed red paint.

Curell said he targeted Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions and that his religious beliefs were behind the attack, according to a police statement.

Police said Curell did not elaborate on his religious beliefs.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum said an inventory of damage has been done, but an estimate of loss was unavailable at this time.

The office will be open for limited purposes on Thursday and would be back to a normal schedule as soon as possible, according to Cockrum.

"I'm just real clear we are going to be there and this unfortunate behavior will not daunt us," Cockrum said.

This was the third such incident at an abortion clinic in the last year and a half. In April 2012, a small explosive device was detonated outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in central Wisconsin.

Four months earlier, the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida was destroyed by a Molotov cocktail.

Indiana is one of a number of states with Republican legislative majorities that has voted to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions.

The Indiana Senate on Wednesday approved a separate measure that requires clinics administering the so-called abortion pill to also have full surgical facilities, a move that critics said was aimed at Planned Parenthood.

Bills similar to those in Indiana have passed in states including Arkansas, Arizona and Texas, according to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group in Washington.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider and runs four of the 10 clinics in Indiana that offer abortion services.

(Reporting By Susan Guyett; Editing by Brendan O'Brien, Greg McCune and Steve Orlofsky)

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