Colorado, Virginia attacks occurred after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling; FBI was already investigating trend
Unknown assailants torched a crisis pregnancy centre in Colorado and broke windows at another in Virginia after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, reversing a decision that had legalised abortion for nearly 50 years in the US.
The attacks followed a wave of similar incidents at such centers across the country in the runup to the controversial decision, leaving abortion legislation up to the states – several of which immediately enacted trigger bans outlawing the procedure.
Unlike many other reproductive health facilities, crisis pregnancy centres do not offer abortions and have been severely criticised for pressuring women not to end their pregnancies.
The centres are described by Planned Parenthood as “clinics or mobile vans that look like real health centers, but they have a shady, harmful agenda: to scare, shame, or pressure you out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health … they won’t give you honest facts about sexual health and your pregnancy options — their goal is to spread misinformation and propaganda.”
Many are affiliated with religious and right-wing organisations.
As speculation mounted following a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion regarding Roe v. Wade, attacks were increasing against centres from Oregon to New York.
“The FBI is investigating a series of attacks and threats targeting pregnancy resource centers and faith-based organizations across the country,” the FBI said in a statement earlier this month. “The FBI takes all threats seriously and we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities.”
Early Saturday morning, emergency services in Longmont, Colorado were called to a fire at Life Choices, which describes itself as “a Christ-centered ministry providing education, support, healing, and limited medical services for sexual life choices.”
The building sustained fire and smoke damage and was painted with graffiti messages such as “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you.”
Life Choices does not offer abortions but does advertise “abortion pill information & reversal.”
A few hours later on Saturday, the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg, Virginia was similarly vandalised, with attackers breaking several windows and spraypainting messages such as “If abortion ain’t safe you ain’t safe” on the property.
The Lynchburg location offers counselling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and post-abortion services but not the procedures themselves nor referrals, according to its website.
Sharing a press release from the Lynchburg Police Department — which said security footage showed four masked vandals — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted on Saturday night that “There is no room for this in Virginia, breaking the law is unacceptable.
“This is not how we find common ground. Virginia State Police stands ready to support local law enforcement as they investigate.”