Pro-life pregnancy centers and churches are being firebombed, attacked and vandalized as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the future of legalized abortion in America.
Police in Amherst, New York, are investigating a fire that gutted a CompassCare pregnancy center Tuesday in what leaders of the pro-life organization decried as a politically motivated attack less than a month after a May 8 arson attempt at a Right to Life center in Keizer, Oregon.
In other incidents, vandals have sprayed blood-red paint and posted graffiti threats on the walls of pro-life pregnancy centers in the District of Columbia, Washington state, Maryland, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Texas since the leak last month of a draft majority opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationally.
According to a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops report, there have been at least 134 arson and vandalism attacks on churches in 35 states and the District since May 2020. The bishops say the number is growing amid intensifying protests at the Supreme Court and near the homes of conservative justices.
Early Wednesday, police arrested a man armed with a handgun, knife and pepper spray near the suburban Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. The man told police he planned to kill Justice Kavanaugh, one of the conservative justices in the court majority expected to overturn Roe.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a bulletin that violence targeting both pro-life and pro-choice organizations could “become more dynamic” before November’s midterm elections.
“Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies,” the National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin said.
On May 25, Wyoming police reported that arsonists set fire to a Casper abortion clinic that was preparing to open this month, but media reports suggest such attacks are increasingly outliers in the surge of violence. Instead, extremists are mostly targeting pro-life groups, facilities and churches.
Janet Durig, executive director of the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in the nation’s capital, said vandals who attacked her organization’s building early Friday tossed a gallon of red paint on the front door, threw eggs at windows and scrawled “Jane says revenge” with an anarchist symbol on two outside walls.
“We’ve helped thousands of people over the years, and it’s very sad that people can’t see that,” Ms. Durig told The Washington Times on Wednesday.
“We’re upgrading our outside security cameras and looking into other options. We’re also asking people to pray for our protection and clients so that this doesn’t scare people away in their need,” she added.
The organization in Northeast D.C. opened in 1985 to provide resources such as free pregnancy testing, car seats, cribs, baby clothes and infant formula as alternatives to abortion.
The phrase “Jane says revenge” refers to Jane’s Revenge, a self-described “abortion terrorist group” that takes its name from Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade.
Jane’s Revenge has not confirmed its involvement in the CompassCare center attack Tuesday, but the group has claimed responsibility for an arson attack in May on the pro-life organization Wisconsin Family Action in Madison.
“If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either,” the arsonists wrote in black paint on the side of the group’s burned-out office.
Catholic parishes, which began seeing a spike in vandalism attacks during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, also have been targeted over the past month.
The Archdiocese of Seattle confirmed that a vandal spray-painted “abort the church” on a wall at St. Michael parish in Olympia on May 22. In an online post, the Bo Brown Memorial Cell of Jane’s Revenge claimed responsibility for the attack as well as attacks on three other non-Catholic churches.
Colorado police reported that vandals wrote “my body, my choice” and an “A” for anarchy in a May 7 graffiti attack that also smashed windows at St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins.
In New York City, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan has reported receiving several threats amid abortion rights demonstrations outside its front doors.
The Supreme Court is poised to rule this month on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.
Protests have intensified throughout the nation since the May 2 leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft majority opinion on the case, which would overturn Roe by returning jurisdiction over regulating abortion to individual states.
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are poised to restrict abortions if the high court rules as the draft opinion suggests. Barricades have been erected outside of the Supreme Court to contain abortion rights protesters.
Caroline Wharton, a staff writer for Students for Life of America, said pro-life activists will follow their usual summer schedule of praying and picketing outside U.S. abortion clinics regardless of the Homeland Security warning.
“Despite this constant threat, the pro-life movement will continue our life-affirming activism, although we will take further precautions for safety,” Ms. Wharton said Wednesday.