Attacks on ‘right to life’ clinics threaten fight for women’s emancipation

By Vivian Sahner
November 7, 2022
Hollywood, Florida, pregnancy center graffitied in May by leftist thugs “Jane’s Revenge,” part of surge of violent attacks, firebombing, vandalism on “right-to-life” clinics in recent months.
Dr. Grazie Pozo ChristieHollywood, Florida, pregnancy center graffitied in May by leftist thugs “Jane’s Revenge,” part of surge of violent attacks, firebombing, vandalism on “right-to-life” clinics in recent months.

Since the May 2 leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion holding Roe v. Wade as unconstitutional, there have been at least 70 violent attacks directed against crisis pregnancy centers and offices of groups opposed to decriminalizing abortion.

The pregnancy centers counsel against abortion while providing medical care and baby supplies to women with unexpected pregnancies. Mobs of masked vandals have set fires, smashed windows and plastered buildings with messages like “fake clinic” and “liars.”

These attacks are dangerous blows to key constitutional freedoms and need to be strongly opposed.

Early in the morning of May 8, the office of Wisconsin Family Action, an anti-abortion group in Madison was firebombed. Its windows were blown out and furniture destroyed. Because no one was there at the time, there were no injuries. The threat, “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either,” was spray-painted on the side of the building.

At the CompassCare office in Buffalo, New York, June 7, vandals threw Molotov cocktails through a window. “I was shocked to see our nurses’ station totally destroyed,” one employee told the press, describing an office gutted by smoke and water damage. No one was inside at the time. The attackers left a spray-painted message: “Jane was here,” referring to Jane’s Revenge, a group that takes credit for similar assaults around the country and threatens more.

Others have vandalized churches and interrupted services. In June, police in Portland, Oregon, stood aside as 50 masked people in broad daylight broke windows and scrawled death threats on the Hinson Memorial Baptist Church. That same month, the city’s All Saints Catholic Church and School was defaced with a similar threat: “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you.” According to the Religious Freedom Institute, 32 Catholic churches have been attacked since May.

Yet so far, there has not been a single arrest.

With no sign that this is likely to change, CompassCare sued the town of Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo, to regain possession of surveillance footage of the attack. Cops are refusing to return or make a copy of the evidence that CompassCare CEO James Harden had given them on the day of the assault. “We have a right to our own evidence,” Harden told the Buffalo News.

There’s been barely a mention of the assaults in the major newspapers.

Democrats have left no stone unturned in pursuit of alleged crimes by Donald Trump, from endless televised hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, to unleashing the FBI on the former president. But they have shown no concern about these attacks.

In July, House Democrats blocked a resolution condemning the violent assaults on pregnancy centers. “We need to shut them down all around the country,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren declared. Warren gave backhanded support to the attacks, stating, “You should not be able to torture a pregnant person like that.”

These moves by leftist thugs and Democrats endanger freedoms that working people need to be able to fight bosses’ attacks on jobs, wages and conditions that are making it harder for workers to provide for our families or to start one.

Rights to free speech and assembly are crucial for the discussions that are needed to advance access to family planning, including contraception and safe and secure abortion. The door to debate on that question was opened up by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June that returned decision-making on the status of abortion from an unelected judiciary to the people and state governments.

Nadine Strossen, former head of the American Civil Liberties Union and a staunch supporter of abortion rights, spoke to the press about the attacks on pregnancy centers. “This is not just about protecting the rights of pro-life organizations but upholding basic standards of due process,” she said.

“Those of us who support the right to abortion have an especially great stake in the rule of law,” Strossen said. “One of these days, the power that you’re sanctioning is going to be used for the exact opposite purposes.”

Violence leveled against abortion providers over decades bears her point out. At least 11 people have been killed, including doctors, receptionists and other volunteers. There have been kidnappings, other physical attacks and numerous clinics have been damaged.

“What is at stake is a general principle of protection that either benefits everybody, or the alternative is that it doesn’t provide security for anybody,” Strossen said.