Gwinnett County authorities searched Tuesday for a burglary suspect an eyewitness saw running from the Suwanee offices of a physician trade group, which later reported computers containing membership information were missing.
The break-in at the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society’s offices on Tench Road occurred Saturday. The group said the two laptops taken also contained financial and other administrative information.
The society, which has more than 950 member physicians, has been critical of abortion legislation making its way through the General Assembly. On Monday, one piece of legislation the group has targeted, House Bill 954, commonly referred to as a “fetal pain” bill, cleared a Senate committee.
Patricia Cota, the society's executive director, said Tuesday she didn’t want to speculate whether there was a connection between the break-in and the group's opposition to the abortion legislation.
“It’s just discouraging that all of this is happening at this busy time,” Cota told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The laptops did not contain any information on patients, Cota said.
Police are looking for a man a jogger said she saw running from the society's building to a waiting car Saturday, according to a spokesman.
According to a police report released to the AJC on Tuesday, the jogger said the man appeared to be carrying a large book bag that looked heavy. The man jumped into the passenger side of a black vehicle, which drove away.
The man was described as a 6-foot, 250-pound black male in his mid to late 30s. He wore a dark colored short-sleeve shirt, black jeans, black gloves, a black beanie cap and sunglasses.
Police said they found a front door of the office building closed but unlocked, and it appeared it had been pried open.
“Our investigators are following up on all leads regarding this case,” Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Tuesday in a statement. “Hopefully they will be able to identify the person(s) responsible and make an arrest.”
House Bill 954 is among the bills the physicians society and other groups are fighting. It would tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive.
The measure says that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks and, therefore, the state has an interest in protecting it.
Supporters of the bill say it would save lives and protect fetuses. Opponents say the bill would legislate decisions that should be made by doctors and patients.
Opponents are also targeting Senate Bill 438, which is now being considered by a House committee and would ban state employee health insurance plans from offering coverage for abortion services.
-- Staff writer Kristina Torres contributed to this report.
Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, recently likened people with pre-existing medical conditions to wrecked cars and appeared to suggest that the sick are at fault for their illnesses just as drivers are at fault for their accidents.