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Wis. also charges man in abortionist-attack plans

Ralph W. Lang

Ralph W. Lang (AP Photo/Dane County Sheriff’s Department)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Marshfield man already facing a federal charge after describing his plans to attack a Madison abortion clinic now faces a state charge as well.

Ralph W. Lang, 63, was charged Friday in state court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

He was also charged Thursday in federal court with a misdemeanor count of attempting to injure or intimidate a provider of reproductive-health services. Federal prosecutors are considering a related felony charge as well.

Most of the details in the state criminal complaint mirror those in the federal complaint, with one slight difference.

Both sets of court documents describe how, on the eve of his planned attack at a Madison Planned Parenthood clinic, Lang accidentally fired a bullet through his motel-room door. The event resulted in his arrest on a reckless-endangerment charge, and in the course of the subsequent investigation he laid out the details of his planned rampage.

The two complaints give different reasons for how the gun fired.

The federal complaint quotes Lang as saying he was loading a magazine into the .38-caliber handgun when it inexplicably went off. The state complaint says he told police he was practicing lowering his gun and was facing the door when he pulled the trigger, causing the gun to fire.

“I didn’t think it was loaded,” the complaint quotes him as saying.

Lang, a slight man with thick, salt-and-pepper hair and a white beard, appeared in Dane County Circuit Court on Friday, where he was ordered jailed on $200,000 bail.

The lawyer who appeared with him, Gina Bosben, said he is unemployed but doesn’t qualify for a state public defender because he owns a small house and a rental duplex in Marshfield.

Court Commissioner Todd Meurer ordered that if Lang gets out of jail he not come within 1,000 feet of Planned Parenthood or any other reproductive-health clinic and not to have any weapons.

A Wisconsin State Journal report says a preliminary hearing is set for June 7.

Planned Parenthood operates 27 clinics around Wisconsin. The facilities offer family planning services, including birth control and screening for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer. Three clinics — the Madison facility as well as facilities in Milwaukee and Appleton — provide abortions as well.

The state complaint says Lang’s plan was to shoot an abortion doctor in Madison and then head to a Milwaukee clinic.

Lang was arrested in 2007 outside the Madison Planned Parenthood for blocking the entrance, U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said. Lang told police at the time that the Bible says anyone involved in abortions should be executed and police weren’t doing their jobs because they weren’t killing everyone working there, according to court documents.

“This fits a pattern,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, an abortion-rights group. She said the small number of anti-abortion protesters who turn violent generally show the same “escalation of activities from perhaps just protesting to making threats to carrying out threats.”

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj

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