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Bishops call for protection of pro-life centers

VANDALIZED PRO-LIFE CENTER

Mountain Area Pregnancy Services | Facebook | Fair Use

John Burger - published on 06/14/22 - updated on 06/14/22

Pregnancy care centers have been victims of arson and other acts of vandalism.

If abortion isn’t “safe,” then neither are you.

That’s the message abortion activists are sending in the lead-up to a major Supreme Court decision on the issue, and to prove their point, they’ve been showing how “unsafe” it can be to be pro-life.

The slogan has been painted on the walls of crisis pregnancy centers and churches by abortion activists who are worried that the court is about to roll back rights granted by its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The latest act of violence against an abortion alternative office took place this past weekend, when a pregnancy center in Gresham, Oregon, was firebombed.

Luke Cirillo, CEO of Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center, told LiveAction that authorities believe an incendiary device was thrown through a window and sparked a fire. No one was hurt in the incident. 

But it was the fourth known arson committed against a pro-life organization since the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case indicated a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade is imminent.

In response to the ongoing attacks, as well as vandalism of Catholic churches, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Religious Liberty and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged elected officials to “take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger.”

“For two years now, Catholic churches have been attacked and vandalized at an alarming rate. In July of 2020, we strained to understand this violence,” the bishops wrote. “In October of 2021, we called on elected officials to condemn the attacks. This past January, we prayed that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear. Only rarely have the motives been clear; when they were, it was often opposition to the Church’s teachings on life in the womb.”

Dolan and Lori said that since the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs, “charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed and pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily and terrorized, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened. In light of this, we urge our elected officials to take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger. We thank those who have already done so, and we encourage them to continue.”

Chris Slattery, a New York-based pro-life veteran who runs a network of pregnancy resource centers, said that authorities are not doing enough. 

“The [New York] state police are not providing protection to the Jim Harden family in Rochester, N.Y.,” Slattery said, referring to the CEO of CompassCare, a center that was firebombed last Tuesday. Graffiti sprayed on the building of the center said “Jane was here,” an apparent reference to a pro-abortion protest group known as Jane’s Revenge. It claimed to be behind a fire set last month at a pregnancy resource center in Madison, Wisconsin. The group has not formally claimed credit for the attack in Rochester.

But Slattery said Harden “had to leave his home with his children, due to death threats. And he literally had to go to an undisclosed location with no police protection.”

While CompassCare had to dip into its savings to hire security consultants and begin installing armored glass at its Eggertsville office, it pointed out that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul earmarked $35 million to support abortion clinics, including $10 million to ramp up security.

In regard to his own network of pregnancy care centers in New York City – EMC Frontline – Slattery said in an interview, “I can’t say I feel completely at ease. There’s not much I can do because we have offices inside of office buildings. We don’t have any ground floor locations. We don’t have any windows that are seriously exposed [but are] 15-feet high second floor windows in the Bronx, and no windows in our Brooklyn and Queens offices. So they can’t firebomb us in Brooklyn and Queens; they could possibly lob grenades at our Bronx office – that’s probably not going to happen. They could always invade us, though that hasn’t been their pattern yet. So far, the method of attack has been firebombing when the offices are closed.”

But, he cautioned, with the assassination attempt against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it “means that they could be trying to assassinate leaders like Jim Harden, possibly me. But I’m not living in fear.”

Slattery said that if he withdraws from his work due to the fear of violence, his pro-life work would suffer, meaning the probably loss of life of children in the womb. 

“A single baby saved is worth the whole world,” he said. “I would never shut my office down because of fear or excessive caution.”

Dolan and Lori wrote that the Church has a “long history of service to those who are most vulnerable, including both mother and child, and remains the largest private provider of social services in the United States. From religious communities to pregnancy care centers, from refugee resettlement services to foster care and adoption agencies, and from maternity homes to parish-based ministries, the Church consistently bears witness in word and deed to the beauty and dignity of every human life.”

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